This type of arthritis typically has initial symptoms of stiff and sore low back and hips, especially in the morning. Over time, the stiffness can spread up your spine and to other joints and organs. The vertebrae and bones in your rib cage might fuse, leaving you hunched over. Young men develop this condition more often than women, and it may run in families. Early treatment with exercise and medication helps slow the progress.
Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal injury most often results from an accident (like a fall, car crash, or sports mishap) or from a gunshot. In most cases, the spinal cord gets bruised, or part of its blood supply is cut off. This may prevent the brain from controlling parts of the body, and so spinal cord injuries can be very serious. The higher the site of injury on your spine, the more of the body is affected.
Broken Neck or Back
Accidents and injuries can also breaking of bones. When that happens to one of the top seven vertebrae, just below the skull, it’s called a broken neck; if the vertebrae farther down are injured, it is a broken back. Bone loss because of age can make your back weak, too, and a break may develop slowly over time. In that case, a back brace or surgery may help. Broken vertebrae could also hurt your spinal cord.
Cervical spondylosis is the result of the gradual breakdown in your neck as you get older. You could get a slipped disk there, or the vertebrae may sprout extra bone called spurs to try to boost strength. The ligaments that connect the vertebrae can get stiff and tight. Regardless of the cause, your neck may hurt or be harder to move. If the disks or vertebrae severely squeeze nerves and nerve roots, you could have permanent damage.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Nerves that branch out from the spine in the lower back help the brain control the legs and the organs in the pelvis. A herniated disk, fracture, or other condition could put pressure on this group of nerves, called the cauda equina, causing this rare but dangerous ailment. You need surgery right away to restore any loss of feeling, movement, or control of your bladder and bowels.
Sometimes, the vertebrae might slide sideways, so that they don’t line up with the ones above and below them. Spondylolisthesis is the main cause of lower back pain. It happens as your body ages, but it also can affect young people who do sports that stress the lower back, like football, gymnastics, and weightlifting. Rest should help. If the pain persist, you may need surgery.
In this condition, the spine bends forward. It usually happens when your vertebrae crack or mash down. Older women get it most often, but it can also affect children whose spines develop abnormally. It can cause pain and other problems, and in severe cases, it bends your whole body out of shape. Depending on how curved your spine is, treatment might include painkillers, exercise, or surgery.
Scoliosis is one of the conditions that can twist your spine out of shape. The most common type affects children during their growth spurt before puberty, bending the spine sideways. If your child has scoliosis, their shoulders might be uneven, or one shoulder blade might stick out more than the other. Its cause is unknown. Scoliosis can get worse and cause problems, but a brace may help prevent worsening and surgery is needed to correct it.
Your vertebrae have slippery tissue on each end that helps your back flex without friction. If that cartilage gets rough or wears down, the vertebrae start to rub against each other, and it makes your back painful or stiff. Women are more prone than men to develop osteoarthritis in their back, and it tends to get worse over time. Your doctor can’t reverse it. But painkillers, therapy, and exercise help ease the symptoms.
Your spine has spaces in it for your spinal cord and the nerves that branch out from it. When those spaces shrink, the bones can press against the nerves. You might not even notice it, but if nerves are compressed, you could have pain, tingling, or numbness, or your muscles might feel weak. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. When it’s severe, a surgery can be performed to make more room for the nerves.
If pain shoots down from your lower back, through your hips, and into your leg, the culprit may be your sciatic nerve. A herniated disk, bone spur, or some other spinal issue can result in pressure on this nerve. Doctors call this sciatica. It usually affects only one side of your body. Hot packs, cold packs, stretching, and painkillers can help you feel better, but you may need a doctor to treat the cause.
A cushion called a disk sits between each of your spinal vertebrae, so that they don’t scrape against each other. As you age, the disks start to dry out. If you put too much stress on your back, a disk may tear or break. Doctors call this a herniated disk. You may not notice it. But your arms or legs might hurt, or they could feel numb or tingly. Usually, exercise and painkillers help. If not, you may need an operation.
Sometimes, a cancer spreads from the body part where it first develops to form a new growth in your spine. Cancers in the lung, breast, prostate, and bone cancers are more likely to migrate to the spine. A few non-cancer conditions can create a spine tumor, too. Your back might hurt, with the pain spreading through your body. Your arms or legs might be numb or weak. A part of your body could even be paralyzed. Your doctor may recommend surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
In rare cases, a little fluid-filled sac called a cyst can form in your spinal cord. This could happen when the brain tissue pushes down from your skull into your spinal cord, or from an injury or tumor. Syringomyelia may not give you any problems. But if the cyst keeps growing, it can injure your spinal cord, and you may need surgery.