Back & Spine

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Back & Spine Injuries, Conditions & Treatments

Sprains & Strains

Spraining or straining your back is the most common type of back injury. These injuries can happen acutely (suddenly) or chronic (slowly over time). Strains often occur from twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon in your back. A sprain usually happens as a result of a fall or sudden twist, or a trauma that forces a joint out of its normal position.

Herniated Disc

Another common back injury involves a herniated or bulging disc. This occurs when there is a problem with the rubbery cushions (discs) between your vertebrae. A disc is often described as a jelly donut, with a softer center inside a tougher exterior. A herniated disc occurs when the softer “jelly” pushes through a tear in the exterior of the disc. This can cause nearby nerves to become irritated and create painful symptoms.

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Fractured Vertebra

A fractured vertebra, also called a compression fracture, refers to a crack or gap in the vertebra. It is often a result of the spine aging and weakening, but can also be caused by trauma to the spine or from a fall.

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Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine that most often is diagnosed in adolescents. While scoliosis can occur in people with conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause of most childhood scoliosis is unknown. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some curves worsen as children grow.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through a tunnel formed by your vertebrae. The tunnel is called the spinal canal. Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower part of your back. Stenosis, which means narrowing, can cause pressure on your spinal cord or the nerves that go from your spinal cord to your muscles.

Spinal Cord Compression

Spinal cord compression is caused by any condition that puts pressure on your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that carries messages back and forth from your brain to your muscles and other soft tissues. As your spinal cord travels down your back, it’s protected by a stack of backbones called vertebrae. They also hold your body upright. The nerves of your spinal cord run through the openings between the vertebrae and out to your muscles.

Pars Defect

A pars defect or spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the bones of the lower spine. These fractures typically occur due to overuse of the low back, mainly from sports that involve repetitive back bend-like motions. They can be on one or both sides of the vertebrae.


Kyphosis is an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back. It can occur at any age but is most common in older women. Age-related kyphosis is often due to weakness in the spinal bones that causes them to compress or crack. Mild kyphosis causes few problems. Severe kyphosis can cause pain and be disfiguring. Treatment for kyphosis depends on your age and the cause and effects of the curvature.


Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood. Simply put, degenerative disc disease refers to symptoms of back or neck pain caused by wear and tear on a spinal disc. In some cases, degenerative disc disease also causes weakness, numbness, and hot, shooting pains in the arms or legs (radicular pain). Degenerative disc disease typically consists of low-level chronic pain with intermittent episodes of more severe pain.

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