Spinal Abnormalities

There are various spinal abnormalities that may affect a person's quality of life to the point that they can't stand, sit, and move comfortably. Some of these abnormalities may be congenital, pointing back to a genetic defect in the person's genome that was present at birth. Other spinal abnormalities might develop during early development, though it may be due to an unknown cause (idiopathic). Other abnormalities may be due to injuries that occurred as a result of traumas or accidents. Still other abnormalities may be present later in the life of the back pain suffered, in the form of degenerative diseases that change the shape of the spine. Here, we will provide you with a brief overview of the types of disorders that may affect the shape of the spine or its ability to protect the spinal cord and the verves that branch off of it.

Radiculopathy: At each level of the spine, a pair of spinal nerve roots exit through the sides of the spine, where they branch several times by the time they reach the four corners of the body. When the spine and muscles around it are healthy, the nerves may travel along their path without constriction from the structures around it. These spinal nerves are known as the nerve roots when they pass through the foramen in the sides of the spine, and the nerves when they branch throughout the body.

When injuries and conditioning issues du occur around the nerve roots, the functioning of the nerve may be affected greatly, resulting in pain as well as changes in motor control and sensation. We may lose strength in the muscles and joints supplied by that nerve, eventually to the point where the affected areas become weak, numb, and atrophied. These neurologic changes may become irreversible if the cause of the nerve compression is not remedied.

The nerve roots are also called radicular nerves. These nerves continue to branch off one another after leaving the foramen of the spine, to the point where ever cell in the body is near a small nerve fiber. Radiculopathy is a condition that involves back pain or neck pain, as well as one or more neurologic symptoms related to the individual nerve(s) being compressed. Various neurologic symptoms that fall under the umbrella of the term radiculopathy include numbness, burning pain, weakness, tingling, pins and needles, ect.

Radiculopathy may occur due to the compression of any one of the spinal nerves roots, including those that exit the spine below the ending of the spinal cord. The spinal cord itself actually ends at about the level of L1 - at the top of the lumbar spine. Below this point, the spinal nerves continue, exiting through the sides of the lumbosacral spine. Back conditions that may cause lower back pain with radiculopahty include fracture, large disc herniation, and sciatica. Though disc herniations in the lumbosacral region are likely to cause low back pain and muscular atrophy, they rarely cause paralysis or paraplegia, due to their location below the bottom of the spinal cord.

Spine Curvature Disorders: In a normal, healthy spine, the spine would appear straight if you could see through the body when standing directly in front of or behind a person. If a front to back X-ray of the spine did indicate a lateral curvature of the spine, the condition could be described as scoliosis. Scoliosis is a progressive disorder in which it is nearly impossible to reverse it without surgery, though there are treatments that may slow its progression down or stop its progression. Back bracing may help to slow or stop the progression of scoliosis, though its treatment efficacy is minimized after the human spine has stopped growing.

Other spinal abnormalities include discitis, Spondylolisthesis, Achondroplasia, and spina bifida.