NeckLow backGeneral Spine Topics

Cervical (Neck) Topics

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Cervical Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy refers to symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in a limb. This can be a result of degenerative changes in the spine that have accumulated over the lifespan, but radiculopathy often manifests after injury to an intervertebral disc. Radiculopathy is named based on the location of the injury, thus, radicular symptoms in an upper extremity are referred to as cervical radiculopathy.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

The cervical region of the spine consists of 7 vertebrae (C1-C7). Cervical spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the cervical spinal canal, which can irritate nerves and produce unpleasant symptoms such as burning, tingling, and weakness in the upper extremities. The most common cause of stenosis is spondylosis, whis is degenerative arthritis of the spine. Other common causes of stenosis include progressive damage of intervertebral discs from aging, trauma, and obesity as well as injury leading to a bulging or “herniated” intervertebral disc.

Side view of cervical vertbrae (in red)

Interactive 3D Model of a cervical vertebra (outside link)

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Lumbar (Low back) Topics

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Lumbar Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is the displacement of one vertebral body with respect to another. This happens due to degenerative disc disease or as a result of a fracture/defect of the pars interarticularis.

Lumbar spondylolisthesis at the L5/S1 level
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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The lumbar region of the spine consists of 5 vertebrae (L1-S1). The further down the spine a vertebra is, the more stress it endures in day to day life. It is no surprise then, that many back problems arise in the lumbar region. Lumbar spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal, which can irritate nerves and produce unpleasant symptoms such as burning, tingling, and weakness in the lower extremities. The most common cause of stenosis is spondylosis, whis is degenerative arthritis of the spine, and is most common in individuals over 60 years old. Other common causes of stenosis include progressive damage of intervertebral discs from aging, trauma, and obesity as well as injury leading to a bulging or “herniated” intervertebral disc.

Lumbar vertebrae, highlighted in red
A lumbar vertebra with important landmarks labeled

Interactive 3D Model of a lumbar vertebra (outside link)

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a joint that connects the bottom of the spinal column (sacrum) to the pelvis (ilium). This joint normally moves only minimally, participating slightly in rotating and bending, and helps to more evenly distribute the everday stress of walking, running, jumping, and falling. Excess motion at the SI joint, known as SI joint dysfunction, can be a cause of low back and hip/groin/thigh pain. When other sources of pain such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, fracture, or intervertebral disc herniation have been ruled out we often look towards the SI joint as a possible pain generator. If an in-office physical exam is suspicious for SI joint dysfunction an injection of numbing medication in the SI joint can provide a definitive diagnosis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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General Spine Topics

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What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common cause of back pain and radiculopathy. It is a result of natural aging and is influenced by genetic factors as well as activity level.

MRI image demonstrating DDD in the cervical spine
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What is a Disc Herniation?

Intervertebral discs lie between vertebrae and act as a shock absorber for the spine. Discs are composed of two segments: the nucleus pulposus acts as the shock absorber and it is surrounded by a tough ring called the annulus fibrosis. A disc herniation is when a portion of the nucleus has pushed out, or “herniated” through the annulus. Disc herniations can press against neural elements and cause radicular symptoms, which can be one or all of: pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in an upper or lower extremity.

Disc hernations in the cervical (left) and lumbar (right) spine
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