Spinal Disorders

Description of Disorders

Degenerative Disc Disease
Aging and/or traumatic wearing away of the discs (shock absorbers) that are located between the spinal vertebrae (bones).

Degenerative Spinal Arthritis
Aging phenomenon gives rise to a wearing away of the smooth cartilage (Teflon coating) within the spinal facets (joints).

Pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in one or both legs referable to inflammation or compression of one or more branches of the sciatic nerve (nerve symptoms).

Herniated Disc
Rupture of a piece of the disc, sometimes causing pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord, with resulting pain, numbness or weakness in one or both arms or legs (nerve symptoms).

Narrowing of an area in the spinal canal which may cause “nerve symptoms” if the narrowing compresses a nerve.

Slippage of one vertebral body on another due to either aging arthritis or to a fracture, acquired during childhood or adolescence. Slippage and instability may cause nerve symptoms.

Curvature of the spine usually due to congenital, unknown or degenerative causes.

Loss of calcium from spinal bones. Most commonly occurring in older women after menopause.

Spinal bones typically fracture due to trauma and falls, although they may occur in osteoporosis patients with minimal if any trauma.

Tumors may be benign or malignant. Although they may arise primarily from the spinal vertebrae themselves, these bones are frequently the site of secondary deposition of malignant tumors arising from other organs (metastasis lesions).

The spinal bones and discs may become infected, usually from bacteria traveling in the blood or urine.

Possible Treatment Options

Degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, sciatica, herniated disc, stenosis and spondylolisthesis are usually treated initially with pain medications, physical therapy and spinal cortisone injections. When these treatments fail, surgery, in the form of nerve decompression with or without spinal fusion, may be indicated.

Children’s and teenage scoliosis are treated with observation, bracing, or surgery.

Adult scoliosis is usually treated with medication, physical therapy and spinal cortisone injections for pain. Progressive curves can be treated surgically.

Osteoporosis is treated with medications. Fractures are treated with rest, bracing or surgery.

Tumors are treated with radiation, chemotherapy and sometimes surgery.

Infections are treated with antibiotics and sometimes surgery.

For more information on Spinal Disorders, visit UnderstandSpineSurgery.com.


If you suspect that you have signs or symptoms of spinal disorders, please see your doctor for further evaluation and discussion of treatment options.

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