Health Conditions

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. AIS is a lateral (side) curvature of the spine that can occur in children aged 10 to maturity. The spine may curve to the left or right. Sometimes AIS may start at puberty or during an adolescent growth spurt. Idiopathic means the abnormal curve develops for unknown reasons. There is undoubtedly a genetic pre-disposition for some adolescents to develop AIS. Three to five percent of adolescents will be found to have some form of scoliosis. Most of these children will be girls, in which curves may be more progressive, especially between the age of 10 and 16 years old.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis. Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, is a condition many people associate only with adolescents. But adults can have scoliosis as well. Adult scoliosis is defined as abnormal curvature of the spine in a patient over the age of 18. Sometimes this is the result of a childhood curvature that was left untreated and has since progressed. If scoliosis occurs in an adult with no history of a childhood curvature, it is classified as adult degenerative (de novo) scoliosis.

Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease. As we age, our vertebral discs, which serve as shock absorbers for the spine, sometimes gradually dry out, affecting their strength and resiliency. This can lead to degenerative disc disease (DDD). DDD of the cervical spine is a relatively common condition for aging adults. However, many people who have cervical degenerative disc disease don't even know it. They may only become aware of the condition when being examined for another health problem or during a routine checkup.

cervical_stenosis.jpgCervical Stenosis. Cervical Stenosis is a common cause of neck pain, especially in older patients. This occurs when there is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area or upper part of the spine. This narrowing places pressure on the spinal cord. While some patients are born with this narrowing, most cases of cervical stenosis occur to patients over the age of 50 and are the result of aging and "wear and tear" on the spine.

Many patients with cervical stenosis have a history of some kind of injury or trauma to the neck, however this trauma may have occurred many months or even years before the onset of stenosis type symptoms.

Compression Fractures Osteoporosis. Compression Fractures Osteoporosis is characterized by a loss of bone density, leaving bones weak and at increased risk of breaking. See our informative article on osteoporosis for more information. One of the most common complications of osteoporosis are vertebral compression fractures, affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year in the United States. Many people do not even realize they have a compression fracture and do not seek medical care because they assume their symptoms are simply part of the aging process. For others, compression fractures can be very painful. Whether painful or not, compression fractures can lead to additional fractures, spinal deformity, and loss of the ability to function. The spinal column consists of 34 individual bones called vertebrae. Separating the vertebrae from each other are intervertebral discs that cushion and absorb the stress and shock that the body incurs during movement and give the spine its flexibility. Compression fractures occur when the vertebrae collapse, decreasing the space between them. These injuries often happen to people with osteoporosis and can be the result of a minor fall or even simple daily activities such as bending or lifting.

degen_spine.jpgDegenerative Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below. Degenerative spondylolisthesis, usually occurs in the lumbar spine, especially at L4-L5 level. It is the result of degenerative changes in the vertebral structure that cause the joints between the vertebrae to slip forward. This type of spondylolisthesis is most common among older female patients, usually those over the age of 60.

Isthmic Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a condition of spinal instability, in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below. Isthmic spondylolisthesis, the most common form of this condition, is caused by a bony defect (or fracture) in an area of the pars interarticularis, an area located in the roof (laminae) of the vertebral structure. This bony defect occurs in approximately 4% of the population, and results from a genetic failure of bone formation. The condition most commonly affects the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae (L4 and L5) and the first sacral vertebra (S1). It is interesting to note that the condition is not always painful.

Low Back Strain. Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. Although spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or other more serious condition may cause low back pain, sprain or strain is the most common diagnosis. Sprains and strains often result from excessive physical demands on the spine, such as lifting a heavy object or falling awkwardly. Although the pain can be severe and even temporarily disabling, the good news is that most lumbar sprains and strains are easily treated and do not require spine surgery.

lumbar_degen.jpgLumbar Degenerative Disc Disease. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the lumbar spine is a relatively common condition infor aging adults. Our intervertebral discs serve as shock absorbers for the spine, and as we age they gradually dry out, losing strength and resiliency. These changes are gradual in most people. In fact, many of our patients at CCSI don't know they have degenerative disc disease. DDD can cause the discs to lose height, resulting in nerve pathways narrowing and causing nerve impingement, inflammation, and pain.

cervical_disc.jpgLumbar Disc Herniation. Millions of people suffer from lower back and leg pain. While there are numerous conditions that can result in this type of pain, a common cause is a herniated disc. Discs, which act as shock absorbers for the spine, are located in between each of the vertebrae in the spine. Each disc contains a tire-like outer band (called the annulus fibrosus) that surrounds a gel-like substance (called the nucleus pulposus).

A herniation occurs when the outer band of the disc breaks or cracks and the gel-like substance from the inside of the disc leaks out, placing pressure on the spinal canal or nerve roots. In addition, the nucleus releases a chemical that can cause irritation to the surrounding nerves causing inflammation and pain.

Neck Strain. The frequency of this condition is closely related to our lifestyles. For example, awkward positions such as cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder, sitting in a chair that offers no support, or working at an ill-designed computer station can contribute to neck strain. Another example is whiplash, which is a type of neck strain. It may develop after an automobile accident when the head is suddenly and quickly forced forward and backward (excessive flexion and extension) during a rear-end collision. Other causes of whiplash include injuries during sports or biking.

Although the initial neck pain may be so severe that the patient fears they have "broken" their neck, the good news is that most neck strains and sprains are easily treated and do not require spine surgery.

Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, often referred to as "fragile bone disease", affects more than 28 million men and women in the United States. It is characterized by a loss of bone density that leaves bones weak and at increased risk of fracturing. Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million hip, vertebral, and wrist factures every year. If left untreated, osteoporosis can result in a loss of height, stooped posture, kyphosis (humpback), and chronic pain. The main cause of osteoporosis is a deficiency in important bone-building nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. The other cause of osteoporosis is non-use. Lying down in bed all day, or sitting in a wheelchair will cause the bones to deteriorate rapidly, because no "stress" is being put on the joints and the bones, leaving them brittle and weak.

Whiplash. Whiplash is an injury of the soft tissues of the neck. It is usually caused by sudden extension (backward movement) and flexion (forward movement) of the neck, and often occurs as the result of a rear-end car crash. The neck is particularly susceptible to this type of injury because of its anatomic complexity and wide range of motion. If the whiplash is severe, injuries can also occur to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots.

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