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Your Symptoms

Anatomy of Pain.

There are three common patterns of back and neck pain that patients typically experience: the upper body, consisting of the neck, upper back, shoulders and arms; the mid back or thoracic region; and the lower body, including the low back, gluteal muscles, hips and legs. To find out more about these areas of pain and their corresponding symptoms, simply roll your cursor over a selected area of the anatomy below.

Special Note: Those experiencing symptoms such as a loss of bowel or bladder control, or a dragging or dropped foot should see a spine-focused physician immediately or seek emergency care within 24 hours as these symptoms may be a sign of a serious spine condition.

Spine Anatomy
Where Back Pain Begins

Common Spine Ailments:


Arthritis of the Facet Joint
Bone Spur
Coccygeal Pain
Deformities of the Spine
Herniated/Bulging Disc
Muscle Strain
Osteoporosis
Pinched Nerve
Degenerative Disc Disease
Sacroiliac Joint Disease
Sciatica
Spinal Stenosis
Spine Tumors
Spondylolysis / Spondylolisthesis
Whiplash

Arthritis of the Facet Joint
Arthritis of the facet joint develops slowly over a long period of time. Fractures, torn ligaments and disc degeneration can all cause abnormal movement and alignment placing extra stress on the facet joint. This causes the articular cartilage to wear away, exposing the bone underneath. With bone now rubbing directly against bone, the joint will eventually become arthritic, causing pain and swelling.

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Bone Spur
A bone spur, also known as an osteophyte, is a bony growth formed around a vertebral body, generally in response to pressure, rubbing or stress that continues over a long period of time. Bone spurs only cause pain if they impinge on nerve roots. The important thing to note here is many individuals have a bone spur but do not carry any symptoms.

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Coccygeal Pain
Coccygeal pain refers to pain originating from the coccyx, located at the base of the spine. Typically, this type of pain is caused by an injury, such as falling and hitting the tailbone, or excessive sitting.

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Deformities of the Spine
Scoliosis is a condition that causes a complex curvature of the spine. Though its cause is unknown, it can occur as the result of a separate condition such as cerebral palsy or spinal muscular atrophy.

Kyphosis and lordosis are normal curvatures of the spine. Excessive kyphosis can occur when the spine is bent forward creating a noticeable curve in the upper back, typically the result of years of poor posture or osteoporosis. This type of kyphosis may cause mild to severe back pain, stiffness and fatigue. Excessive lordosis, also know as swayback, occurs when the spine is bent in an inward curve at the lower back. It primarily affects the lumbar spine, creating an exaggerated posture which protrudes the head forward and the buttocks backward. Both of these conditions do not cause pain directly, but may eventually cause vertebrae to impinge on surrounding nerves, resulting in pain.

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Herniated/Bulging Disc
Herniated discs may occur spontaneously through an injury or heavy strain, or as a preexisting condition. The nucleus of a disc, which acts as a shock absorber located within the area between your spine vertebrae, may rupture and place pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. A bulging disc describes a disc which is protruding, but to a lesser degree then a herniated disc. The important thing to note here is many individuals have a herniated disc but do not carry any symptoms. In fact the majority of these cases require no treatment and even fewer require surgery.

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Muscle Strain
A muscle strain occurs when muscle fibers in the back tighten involuntarily. Inflammation of spinal structures may also result in muscle spasms. Both of these scenarios typically occur when the back muscles have been pushed beyond their limits.

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Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more prone to fractures and bone breakage. The pain and discomfort brought on by osteoporosis can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted, may cause a loss in height, prolonged disability or deformity. Because osteoporosis does not have any clear symptoms, it's crucial persons over the age of 50 receive a bone density scan to uncover the disease in its infancy.

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Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve causes shooting pain radiating down the arm or leg. This pain can be the result of nerves being impinged by degenerative disc, bulging or herniated disc, bone spur, or arthritis of the facet joint.

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Degenerative Disc Disease
A degenerative disc can occur through an injury, or simple wear and tear on the spine which comes with age. Degenerative discs are often seen in the general population, and despite the high prevalence, their clinical effect can be unclear.

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Sacroiliac Joint Disease
Sacroiliac disease typically results from multiple causes including inflammation, degeneration, infection, or trauma around or in the sacroiliac joint.

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Sciatica
Sciatica, also known as radiculopathy, is a symptom of a problem along the sciatic nerve. A herniated disc or spinal stenosis, for instance, are typical disorders that can cause sciatica, resulting in pain, weakness and numbness down the back of the leg.

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Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs due to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This causes pinching on the nerves, which leads to persistent pain in the low back, buttocks and can also shoot downward into the legs. Those suffering from spinal stenosis may realize a decrease in physical activity or a lack of feeling in the lower extremities when walking.

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Spinal Cord Tumors
Spinal tumors may arise in any area of the spinal cord. They are extremely rare and, in the early stages, are usually painless. As they grow larger they may potentially cause numbness and pain.

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Spondylolysis / Spondylolisthesis / Spondylosis
Spondylolysis is a term used to describe a stress fracture or defect in the vertebrae that make up the spinal column. If the stress fracture weakens so much that the vertebrae is unable to maintain its position, it may slip out of place pressing on nerves and causing pain. This condition is known as spondylolisthesis. Though this condition is most commonly found in young athletes involved in sports that require repeated hyperextension of the lower back, it can also present itself in older adults who experience a degeneration in the disc and the facet joints, which can allow slippage even without a fracture. Spondylosis is a common term used to describe arthritis of the spine.

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Whiplash
Whiplash is an injury brought on by a sudden jerk of the neck such as that which might occur during an automobile accident. It typically causes muscle strain and stiffness, resulting in neck pain.

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