Common Spine Conditions

Common Spine Conditions | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Since 2012, the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health has collaborated with various organizations around the world to raise awareness about the prevention and management of different conditions affecting the spine. To recognize the importance of spinal health, World Spine Day came to fruition and is marked on the 16th day of every October.

Spine problems can range from mild to severe, and can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, or athletic ability. Commonly, you will develop back problems (such as pain and stiffness) as a result of a muscle strain, usually after a fall or living something heavy. In some cases, back pain can also be caused as a result of very specific spine conditions, including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, stress fractures, facet joint syndrome, spinal stenosis, sciatica, scoliosis, and even spinal tumors. Some of these spinal disorders can also be caused as a result of a traumatic injury to the vertebrae, or to the thoracic or lumbar regions of the spine. In some cases, spinal disorders may also be present at birth. One condition known as kyphosis commonly affects children. Kyphosis is a condition that results in the back having a rounded appearance, and it can cause both pain and poor posture.

One tell-tale sign that you may have a spinal-related problem is lower back pain. If you happen to experience frequent or lingering back pain that does not get better after a few weeks, then you should see your physician to discuss potential causes as well as come up with a treatment plan. Typically, Dr. Ghahary will refer patients with chronic back pain for medical imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, or X-rays. These types of tests will allow your physician to have a better understanding as to what, if anything, is going on with your spine, and is also good for detecting things like arthritis.

Spine pain that is mild and caused by a sprain or strain, or muscle-related problem, can usually be easily treated with NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), alternating between applying cold and hot packs on the affected area, and getting plenty of rest. Doing too much too soon before your back has had a chance to heal can actually worsen the pain and may lead to you becoming susceptible to developing more back issues in the future. If your spinal condition is considered more severe, you may need to see an orthopedic specialist or a spinal surgeon to help you come up with an effective treatment plan, which may or may not include surgery. Given the ways in which the medical industry and technology has advanced over the years, many spine procedures have excellent results – however, as with any surgical procedure, there is still the risk of complications, including paralysis. Your surgeon will go over these risks with you before the procedure takes place, along with the benefits, and he or she will be happy to answer any questions you have.

To learn more about spinal health and how you can take part in World Spine Day this year, visit WorldSpineDay.org.