Arthritis is when the cartilage wears away between the joints. The most common areas people experience this is in the hands, back/neck, hips and knees. As this happens, people will begin to experience pain, swelling and stiff joints along with loss of range of motion.
Cervical Spondylitic Myelopathy
As we age, the normal wear-and-tear on our spine can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal (the bony house of the spinal cord). This compresses the spinal cord and causes a spinal cord deficit (myelopathy). Most individuals experience neck pain and stiffness, numbness and tingling in their arms, hands and legs and loss of balance. This condition may also worsen in an acute setting, such as following a car wreck or fall.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) occurs when the discs between our vertebrae begin to wear down, causing the vertebral bones to get closer together. As this process happens, the discs can bulge, which can result in compressed spinal nerves or spinal cord. Although this is a natural process in aging, certain situations can accelerate the process. As this happens, people will begin to feel back and neck pain in the area of degeneration.
Degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips over the level below it. As stated above in DDD, the loss of height along with increased stresses can cause the vertebrae to move forward. Individuals mainly feel this in the low back, where symptoms such as acute back pain and/or leg pain, numbness and tingling can occur. The joints in the back (facets) can also get inflamed which can cause back pain.
Herniated discs occur when the disc extrudes out of its normal casing and into the spinal column. This can cause back pain due to the compression of spinal nerves and/or spinal cord. Most individuals have back pain and some can experience numbness and/or tingling radiating down the legs (sciatica). The difference between a herniated disc in the neck and back is the types of nerve they compress. The terms “herniated”, “ruptured” and/or “extruded” are often used synonymously.
This is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, and is a progressive disease of the joints. Where there was once smooth articular cartilage that made the bones move easily against each other when the joint bent and straightened, there is now a frayed, rough surface. Joint motion along this exposed surface is painful. Osteoarthritis usually develops after many years of use. It affects people who are middle-aged or older. Other risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, previous injury to the affected joint, and family history of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, with symptoms ranging from mild to disabling. A joint affected by osteoarthritis may be painful and inflamed. Pain and discomfort in this condition can arise from the joints wearing on each other, and/or any nearby irritation of the nerves adjacent to these joints. Pain may be worse in the morning and feel better with activity.
As we “mature”, our bones thin and our bone strength decreases. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become brittle and more likely to break. It often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a bone breaks. Fractures caused by osteoporosis occur in the spine, hips and wrists mainly. Spinal fractures, called vertebral compression fractures, occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year. They are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists. Not all vertebral compression fractures are due to osteoporosis. A vertebral compression fracture is often a patient’s first sign of a weakened skeleton from osteoporosis. Individuals mainly describe back pain near the fractures. The pain often gets worse with standing or sitting for a period of time, and is often relieved by rest or lying down. Although the pain may move to other areas of the body (for example, into the abdomen or down the legs), this is uncommon.
Sciatica is pain that radiates from your lower back down through your buttocks and into the legs. It arises typically due to compression of a spinal nerve from L2-S1, and often affects the side on which the disc herniation ruptures on.
Scoliosis is an abnormal rotation of the spine that can result from developmental abnormalities or severe degeneration. Typicalyl this manifests as a curvature displacing the spine to the side, either to the left or right of midline. Scoliosis can affect both children and adults. Among children, it typically occurs closer to the age of puberty, and can be associated with symptoms like abnormal appearance of the trunk, difficulty breathing, chest or back pain. In adults, this spinal deformity may cause abnormal posture, back pain and possibly leg symptoms, if pressure on the nerves is involved.
Spinal Stenosis occurs when the space around the spinal cord/nerves narrow and puts pressure on the adjacent nerves. The body’s natural response to advanced arthritis is to try and stabilize it by forming bone spurs. Over time, these bone spurs can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Osteoarthritis can also cause the ligaments that connect vertebrae to thicken, which can narrow the spinal canal.
The most common cause of low back pain in adolescent athletes that can be seen on X-ray is a stress fracture in one of the bones that make up the spinal column. Technically, this condition is called spondylolysis. It usually affects the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back and, much less commonly, the fourth lumbar vertebra. If the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it is unable to maintain its proper position, the vertebra can start to shift out of place.
This condition is called spondylolisthesis. If too much slippage occurs, the bones may begin to press on nerves and surgery may be necessary to correct the condition.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms in the hand and arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. The anatomy of your wrist, health problems and possibly repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Proper treatment usually relieves the tingling and numbness and restores wrist and hand function (hand splints, injections, or outpatient microsurgery).
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a type of hydrocephalus that usually occurs in older adults. The average age of person with NPH is over age 60. NPH is different than other types of hydrocephalus in that it develops slowly over time. The drainage of CSF is blocked gradually, and the excess fluid builds up slowly. The slow enlargement of the ventricles means that the fluid pressure in the brain may not be as high as in other types of hydrocephalus. However, the enlarged ventricles still press on the brain and can cause symptoms (the term "normal pressure" is somewhat misleading).
The parts of the brain most often affected in NPH are those that control the legs, the bladder, and the "cognitive" mental processes such as memory, reasoning, problem solving, and speaking. This decline in mental processes, if it is severe enough to interfere with everyday activities, is known as dementia. Other symptoms include abnormal gait (difficulty walking), inability to hold urine (urinary incontinence), and, occasionally, inability to control the bowels.
The pituitary gland is in the skull, below the brain and above the nasal passages. A large tumor can press upon and damage the brain and nerves. Vision changes or headaches are symptoms. In some cases, hormones can also be affected, interfering with menstrual cycles and causing sexual dysfunction. Treatments include surgery and medications to block excess hormone production or shrink the tumor. In some cases, radiation may also be used.
Tumors can start in the brain, or cancer elsewhere in the body can spread to the brain.Symptoms include new or increasingly strong headaches, blurred vision, loss of balance, confusion, and seizures. In some cases, there may be no symptoms. Treatments include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.