Degenerative spine conditions

Basically, the spine is a stack of vertebral bones (that contain the spinal cord) with intervertebral discs cushioning between the bones. The discs are fibrous casings filled with a jelly-like substance. Wear and tear can affect the bones, cartilages, discs as well as ligaments in the spinal cord.

Herniated Discs

With age, the cushioning effect of the discs may reduce. Sometimes, the fibrous coatings crack, leading to leakage of the jelly-like substance. This is termed as herniated disc and more commonly known as a slipped disc.

Degenerative disc disease

This is a condition where the discs slightly collapse and dry out.

Bone spurs

Wearing of the cartilage at the joints may result in rubbing of bones and result in the growth of extra bone called bone spurs.

Ligament hypertrophy
Ageing can result in ligament thickening or hypertrophy. Hypertrophy can further develop into hardening or ossification of the ligaments.
In all the above, people can experience pain and stiffness. There could be compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots, which results in pain or weakness in other body parts like the legs.

Pediatric Spinal Deformities

Children may develop spinal deformities because of several reasons that include developmental abnormalities and neuromuscular or skeletal disorders. Spinal deformities are not present at birth but develop during growth typically until 3 years of age or during adolescence.

The various spinal deformities are classified based on the structural changes in the spine. This form of grouping has practical value since it is useful in the clinical management of the deformity.

The most common types of spinal deformities are

Depending on the severity these deformities can be treated non-surgically (application of braces or casts) or surgically (fusing the spine with screws and rods)

Cervical spine disorders

The cervical spine consists of 7 vertebral bones separated by intervertebral discs, forming the neck region. The bones and joints in this region can degenerate due to several reasons such as:
● Wear and tear due to aging
● Underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
● Tumors
● Injuries
● Bad posture

The cervical spine may develop stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) and spondylosis (arthritis of the spine). Generally, they present as neck pain or stiffness, but other symptoms such as pain and numbness of shoulders and arms may develop if the nerves are pressed.
Appropriate and prompt treatment of cervical disorders is important since if left untreated, these conditions can result in severe impairments such as loss of coordination, loss of senses, and difficulty in walking.

Spinal Tumors

The spine may develop primary (originating in the spine) or secondary (spreading from cancer in another body part) tumors. These tumors may be benign (do not spread) or metastatic (can spread); benign tumors may cause symptoms when they grow in size and lead to compression. Most of the metastatic tumors in the spine originate elsewhere in the body (other organs like the lungs, prostate, and breasts).
In the spine, a tumor can develop in different parts such as the spinal cord (intramedullary), The dura covering the spinal cord (intradural), or in the spinal column but not the spinal cord (extradural).
Most common symptom of spinal tumor is neck or back pain independent of walking, but other symptoms such as bowel or bladder issues, numbness, and difficulty in walking may also develop.

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