Most people take sitting and standing for granted. After all, it is something you started to do at just a few months old and have done ever since. However, this is only possible because of your spine. The unique structure of bones stacked on top of each other, with discs between, gives your body support and maintains flexibility.
You quickly appreciate your spine when you encounter problems with it. Approximately 4 million Australians suffer from back problems. Fortunately, most of these don’t need the services of a qualified neurosurgeon.
However, it is worth knowing about the most common spinal conditions and symptoms and consulting a specialist if your symptoms don’t clear up by themselves within a week or two.
The disk sits between the small bones in your spine and cushions them. This prevents pain from the bones grinding against each other and ensures you have flexibility.
If you place too much stress on your back the disc can tear, reducing its ability to cushion your bones. You may notice an ache at the site or pain in your arms and legs, because of pressure on the nerves that run through your spine. This usually gets better by itself.
As you age your body starts to weaken and it may produce extra pieces of bone, known as bone spurs. These are intended to boost strength but they can also reduce movement in your spine and you are likely to get pain in your neck. You’ll want to get it checked and managed to avoid spurs pressing on nerves and causing permanent damage.
Osteoarthritis is the weakening of bones due to a reduction in mineral content. It is common as you age, although more common in women than men. This can’t be reversed but it can be managed with exercise and painkillers.
The spine has a space inside it where all your nerves travel between your brain and the various parts of your body. This space can shrink, most commonly caused by osteoarthritis. When this happens it exerts pressure on the nerves and you can experience pain, tingling, and even numbness in parts of your body.
A neurosurgeon can widen the restricted part.
Herniated or slipped discs and bone spurs can place pressure on the nerves at the lower part of your spine. This causes pain to shoot down your legs. This causes weakness and the pain can make it hard to function normally.
In most cases, this will heal over time but you may need medical help.
This condition is more common in children and generally happens just as they have a growth spurt before puberty. It’s not known why it happens but it twists the spine and causes the top half of their body to be twisted. You’ll need a brace to treat it, this prevents the need for surgery later on.
This condition bends your spine, effectively making a hunch at the top of your body. It is usually caused when vertebrae crack. It is painful and can ultimately bend your entire body into a different shape. Fortunately, a neurosurgeon can help to rectify the issue with surgery.
It should be noted that this list is not complete, if you are suffering from back pain for more than a couple of weeks, speak to your specialist.