The back is composed of short extensor muscles that bridge from vertebra to vertebra. These muscles are shorter and more prone to spasm. A muscle spasm occurs when muscle fibers in the back tighten and convulse involuntarily. Muscle strain can also be a result of spinal ligaments near the vertebral bodies or tendons that become painful due to inflammation. Ultimately, a muscle spasm is an alert to the body that it has been pushed beyond its limits. When a muscle spasm occurs, it is a good idea to gently stretch the injured area to increase circulation. The more circulation to the area, the sooner the pain will subside.
I. Herniated and Bulging Discs
The spine is composed of many vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Between these bones are discs which act as shock absorbers. The shock-absorbing discs resemble jelly donuts, each having a jelly-like center. As we age, the discs naturally become less flexible and more brittle. In the event of a fall or heavy strain, these discs can rupture, causing the nucleus to break through the wall of the disc and place pressure on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. This results in a herniated disc accompanied by back or neck pain. As the nucleus escapes through the wall, the tissue either remains connected with the disc, or it can break from the nucleus and travel away from the disc. Discs can herniate in any direction forward, centrally, or most commonly backwards and sideways in the direction of the spinal nerves. Sometimes, people mistake excruciating pain for a herniated disc, when the pain might actually be the signal of a muscle strain. The most common indicator of a herniated disc is when pain radiates into the leg or arm. Special extension exercises can help relieve pain from a herniated disc. Exercise can work like a vacuum to suck the center of the disc back into place, helping release pressure on the nerve. Although someone suffering an attack of back pain may find it hard to believe, it has been proven that specific exercises can help relieve some cases of back or neck pain. The good news is that a herniated disc does not necessarily mean a person needs surgery. In some cases, symptoms from a minor herniation can subside, and with care, pain recurrences can be minimized. A bulging disc forms when the wall of the disc is deformed but not necessarily herniated. The nucleus is still contained in the wall. You don't need surgery to treat a bulging disc.
II. Spondylolisthesis and Spondylolysis
Spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis are caused by joint instability in the low back. When a person experiences low back pain that doesn't subside after a few weeks, a spine doctor will scan for this instability by taking X-rays or performing other diagnostic tests. The rear section of the spinal vertebrae has facet joints that act as hinges, which allow our spines to twist and bend. Sometimes, however, this posterior element can crack.Factors such as heredity and stress can lead part of the posterior element, called the pars interarticularis (PARS), to crack. Spondylolisthesis occurs when the cracked PARS causes the vertebra to slide forward out of its correct position. Gymnasts who perform routines that bend and arch the back are often victims of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. If left untreated, spondylolysis can lead to spondylolisthesis. Many victims of spondylolisthesis don't experience symptoms and may not know they have it. While ligaments and muscles help hold vertebrae in place, over time, it may be necessary to install surgical instrumentation or bone grafts that lock vertebrae in place, to prevent them from sliding out of position and damaging the spinal nerves.
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that can first appear during childhood. Some people are born with it, while others develop it over time. Scoliosis can cause the spine to twist and bend in an abnormal way. The cause of scoliosis is unknown, but it does tend to affect more women than men. It is very important to individually assess cases of scoliosis. Sometimes a back brace is used to prevent worsening of the spine curvature. Dramatic curves of the spine can place pressure on internal organs. This leads to a shorter life expectancy, and surgery may be necessary. Scoliosis surgery is extremely complex, and a person should invest a great deal of time in choosing an orthopedic surgeon who uses the most current surgical fixation rods. If a surgeon uses improper methods during scoliosis surgery, the patient could become paralyzed.
Kyphosis and lordosis are types of spinal deformities. Lordosis occurs when the spine curves too far inward in the low back. Kyphosis occurs when the spine in the shoulder blade area curves forward more than normal. Individuals with kyphosis may have visible humps in their back.
V. Coccygeal Pain
In rare cases, back pain originates in the coccyx, the small section of fused bones at the base of the spine. This pain typically results from a direct fall onto the buttocks or from excessive sitting
VI. Neck Pain
Neck pain can be muscle-related, caused by holding the head in the same place for too long. Other cases of neck strain can be the result of an injury involving a sudden jerk of the neck, such as a car accident. Just as in the low back, a disc may herniate, which places pressure on nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
VII. Spine Tumors
The presence of a tumor in the spinal area is extremely serious. These tumors may or may not be painful, which is why it is important to see a spine specialist when back or neck pain persists for more than a week. A tumor can place pressure on nearby nerve roots, which will cause pain. Spine tumors can be benign or malignant.
VIII. Bone Spur
A bone spur is an excess growth of bone around a vertebral body. If bone spurs grow too much, they can impinge on nerve roots.
IX. Degenerative Disc
Degenerative disc disease frequently occurs with age. Discs become more brittle, less resilient and more prone to herniation. In many cases, the space between vertebrae can shrink and compress, which in turn can impinge upon nearby nerve roots, causing pain. Osteoporosis can lead to disc degeneration bone fractures and pain symptoms. As bones become weaker, a person becomes increasingly at risk for vertebral fractures. Since osteoporosis typically doesn't have noticeable symptoms, those at risk, particularly older women, should undergo a bone density scan in order to detect osteoporosis in its early stages. Dietary supplements or medications may be recommended to treat bone loss.
X. Spinal Stenosi
Spinal Stenosis occurs when there is not enough room in the spinal canal for the spinal nerves. This condition resembles placing a ring on your finger. If the finger becomes injured or inflamed, the ring constricts and causes pain. The pain caused by Stenosis is usually focused in the low back area and can shoot down the legs or flare up after walking or exercising. Sometimes pain from spinal stenosis can be relieved temporarily by leaning forward or sitting. Pain typically increases when the person bends backward. Stenosis can be treated nonsurgically, but some cases require surgery in order to create more space around the nerves.