a result of the natural wear and tear that occurs
with aging, certain parts of the spine start to
degenerate and wear out, as we grow older. This
process makes some of the anatomic structures
of the spine, the bones, intervertebral discs,
ligaments, and muscles less flexible and less
resistant to injury.
Spondylolysis is a defect
in the lamina of the vertebrae in the pars interarticularis,
usually the fourth or the fifth lumbar vertebrae
in the lower (lumbar) spine. Spondylolysis may
occur as a congenital defect or be the result
of repetitive trauma. Some physicians believe
spondylolysis may be caused by genetics, and that
someone could be born with thin vertebral bones
causing them to be vulnerable to the condition.
Spondylolysis is common in teenage gymnasts and
football players, and presents with lower back
pain that is worse with strenuous exercise or
activity. Radiographic findings are subtle, but
bone scans or CT scans will usually detect the
lesion. Activity modification, bracing, or surgical
treatment may be indicated for persistent symptoms.
Spondylolysis is a prerequisite
for spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis occurs
when spondylolysis weakens one of the vertebrae
so much that the bone slips out of place. The
condition can also be caused by degenerative disc
disease. If the vertebrae slip too much and begin
to press on nerves, surgery may become necessary.
Spondylolisthesis may also be caused by degenerative
conditions that affect the vertebral joints, such
as cerebral palsy.
Early treatment usually
involves rest and medication. Progressive spondylolisthesis
usually requires surgical treatment.
Most acute pain in the
back results from sustaining a mild strain in
the back or back musculature. Sprains and strains
in your lower back usually happen during a sudden
and stressful injury, causing stretching or tearing
of the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your
lower back. When you strain or sprain your lower
back it causes a lot of stress on your spine,
irritating it. If you have this condition you
may also suffer from painful muscle spasms which
can occur during your daily activities or at night
while you're sleeping. The pain is usually limited
to five or ten days.
Sciatica is the descriptive
term for when pain runs from your back or buttocks
down your leg and into your foot It is a condition
caused by either compression or trauma of the
sciatic nerve. Sciatica is made worse when you
cough or if someone lifts your leg up while you
are laying down. Symptoms may begin abruptly or
gradually, are usually irritated by movement,
and often grow worse at night. Sciatica implies
that there is an irritation of your nerve root
in the lower part of your spine. In some instances,
this could be due to a ruptured or herniated disc
in your lower back.
A herniated ("slipped")
or ruptured disc in your back can cause each of
these pain patterns. The ways in which a slipped
disc causes different pain patterns and problems
with your back is related to the location of the
slipped disc along your spine, and also to the
anatomy of your spinal column. The spinal column,
or backbone, consists of 33 bones (vertebrae)
and can be divided into five segments, called
the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal
sections of the spine. Each of these sections
corresponds to a particular part of your body.
The cervical spine is that part of the spine in
your neck, the thoracic spine supports your trunk,
the lumbar spine supports your lower back and
abdomen, the sacrum supports your pelvis, and
the coccyx is your tailbone.
Stenosis produces a dull,
aching pain in the lower back when standing or
walking. The pain usually radiates down into the
buttocks and thighs, and can be relieved by stopping
to rest, or by using a walker or a shopping cart
in the grocery store. These symptoms usually slowly
get worse over time, and people who suffer from
spinal stenosis will notice a slow decrease in
their ability to walk shorter and shorter distances.
Lumbar stenosis is a natural product of aging,
and the wear and tear on the spine throughout
our lives. As our bodies grow older, the ligaments
and bones that make up the spine grow thicker
and become stiffer. The spinal canal gradually
narrows, and the spinal cord is slowly compressed.
The lack of space interferes with the normal function
of the spinal cord and the body becomes less able
to function normally.