Conditions

The Brain and Spine Centre treats a variety of conditions that cover the most common back and neck ailments. If you cannot find a condition below, please let us know and we will add to our topics in the future.

Topics

Back Pain

Bone Spurs

Bulging Disk

Cervical Pain

Degenerative Disc

Facet Syndrome

Failed Back Syndrome

Headaches

Herniated Disc

Instability

Lumbar Pain

Neck Pain

Numbness

Pinched Nerve

Radiculitis

Radiculopathy

Sciatica

Scoliosis

Spondylosis

Stenosis

Thoracic Pain

Weakness in the Extremities

 

Back Pain

Most people will experience back pain during their lifetime. This pain can range from mild and short lived to severe and long term. More than 80% of back pain will get better within a month with no treatment. Other times the pain is persistent and more serious requiring thorough diagnosis and treatment.

Multiple factors may cause lower back pain such as a disc herniation, a pinched nerve, altered joint mobility (stiffness or instability), arthritis, lumbar strain, a tumor, an injury or an accident. Daily activities such as walking, lifting, twisting and turning all put stress on the lower back. Being out of shape, having arthritic joints or using poor posture will all contribute to back pain.

Persistent and/or severe lower back pain requires a medical evaluation. It is important that you seek advice from your primary care physician to discuss appropriate testing and treatment.

There are a number of treatment options to consider, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, medications, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), behavioral medicine, spinal cord stimulation, acupuncture and/or surgery.
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Bone Spurs

A bone spur is extra bone formed on normal bone. Though this bone is often smooth, it can cause pain if it presses or rubs on other bones or tissue such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves in the body. In many instances, people are not even aware they have a bone spur as there may be no symptoms. For some, there can be tremendous pain and a surgical treatment may be recommended to remove the extra bone. Common places for bone spurs to grow include the shoulders, spine, hips, knees, feet and hands.
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Bulging Disc

A bulging disc can cause discomfort, pain and/or disability in various parts of the body depending on the location of the affected disc(s). This condition occurs when one of the discs between your vertebrae develops a weak spot and then extends beyond its “normal” size. This bulging area may press upon surrounding tissues and nerves causing symptoms. A damaged disc in the lower back may cause pain in the hips, buttocks, legs, and/or feet. A damaged disc in the upper back, the cervical area, may cause pain in the neck, arms and fingers. Bulging discs occur most frequently in the lower back. Minimally invasive surgery commonly resolves this condition.
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Cervical Disc Herniation

Cervical disc herniations are common and may occur spontaneously without an identifiable cause or as a result of trauma. The symptoms typically include one or more of the following: neck pain, headaches, pain between or under the shoulder blades, the feeling that the neck is weak or difficulty holding up the head, pain and/or numbness radiating down the arm and clumsiness of the hands. In severe cases, balance may be affected.

If conservative measures (physical therapy, chiropractic, medication, traction) fail, surgery is the usual treatment. Conservative measures are not appropriate in cases of severe herniations. Cervical disc replacement is a FDA approved alternative to cervical fusion for a single level disc herniation. Surgery for cervical disc herniations is usually performed on an out-patient basis and relief of symptoms is usually immediate.
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Degenerated Discs

Disc degeneration is part of the normal aging process and occurs throughout the spine. In many cases it is asymptomatic  though sometimes it leads to various degrees of discomfort from mild to disabling neck or back pain . Most of the time, these conditions can be treated successfully with anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and injections. Some individuals will continue to experience progressive pain, which may result in loss of work and the inability to participate in daily routines. When quality of life is impaired and pain cannot be managed with treatments or therapies, surgery may become necessary. Frequently the surgical treatment is out-patient and minimally invasive.
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Facet Syndrome

Facet Syndrome is a pattern of back pain, sometimes with associated buttock and leg pain, that is generated by the joints between each vertebrae, called the facet joints. Facet joints occur in pairs at each vertebral level. The facet joints work with the corresponding disc to link the vertebrae directly above and below to form a unit. These joints assist in providing stability and weight-bearing capacity while permitting movement and flexibility of the spine. Pain from facet syndrome is often experienced in the vicinity of the inflamed joint, though occasionally the pain spreads into the limbs and buttocks. Aging and injury often result in inflammation or degeneration of the facet joints causing friction.
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Failed Back Syndrome

Failed Back Syndrome is terminology often used to describe chronic back and/or leg pain that persists despite treatment or is incompletely relieved by surgery. The diagnosis and treatment of painful disorders of the spine is often very complex and therefore it is important to have a comprehensive evaluation to review all possible options.

The name “Failed Back Syndrome” is an unfortunate term that to some implies that nothing can be done for the condition. In fact many people with this condition are treatable. Multiple factors contribute to the symptoms of Failed Back Syndrome such as recurrent or residual disc herniation, a pinched nerve, altered joint mobility (stiffness or instability), scar tissue, loose or  malpositioned spinal instrumentation and muscle damage.

Treatment for failed back syndrome may include therapy, medication, minimally invasive procedures and/or surgery. Removal or revision of spinal instrumentation may also provide significant relief.
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Headache

A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain. Nine areas of the head and neck have these pain-sensitive structures, which are the cranium, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes. A non-specific symptom, headaches have many possible causes.
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Herniated Disc

The vertebrae that form your spine are cushioned by small, sponge-like discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine allowing for flexibility and movement. When a disc becomes damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc and it may also be referred to as a ruptured disc. You can have a herniated disc in any part of your spine though it is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine). An injury may cause a herniated disc but often it can be caused by the aging process.
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Instability

Cervical and instability syndromes present in different ways. Both can be degenerative or traumatic in origin. Cervical instability is due to loss of the structural integrity of the joints and ligaments, and in the case of trauma, fractures of the bones in the neck. The symptoms are frequently neck pain and headaches with or without pain and numbness down the arms. In some cases there is no pain, only weakness or clumsiness of the hands and imbalance when walking due to spinal cord compression. In the lumbar spine the symptoms may manifest as low back pain with radiating into the hips or down the legs. Sometimes it is just the progressive inability to walk distances, distances that become shorter as time goes by.
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Lumbar Pain

If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. Most everyone at some point in time has back pain that interferes with daily activities, work or recreation. Back pain is one of the most common causes of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Most occurrences of lumbar back pain go away within a few days. Others take much longer to resolve or lead to more serious conditions. In many instances, lumbar back pain will resolve itself on its own. Short-term lower back pain (acute pain) typically lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute back pain is mechanical in nature and may be the result of trauma or arthritis. Lumbar symptoms may range from muscle-ache to stabbing pain to limited mobility and limited range of motion. Chronic back pain is pain that persists for more than three months. It is often progressive and very often the cause can be difficult to determine.
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Neck Pain

Also known as cervicalgia, neck pain is a common problem that two-thirds of the population suffer from at some point in their lives. The condition can be caused by a number of spinal, physical and emotional health problems. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae.
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Numbness

Numbness is the loss of sensation. This condition is often caused by irritation or compression of a branch of a nerve in the periphery of the body. Diseases affecting the peripheral nerves, such as diabetes, also can cause numbness. On occasion, numbness can be caused by problems in the brain or spinal cord.
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Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues. This pressure may result in symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, weakness and/or burning sensations. In addition, there may be a loss of movement and atrophy in the affected muscles. A pinched nerve can occur at various sites in the body. A herniated disc in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of the leg, known as sciatica.
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Radiculitis

Radiculitis is pain radiated along the nerve paths due to inflammation of the spinal nerve roots. Symptoms include burning pain, “pins and needles,” and numbness along the affected nerve paths.
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Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a description for several symptoms which occur near the spine, where the nerve root is located. Radiculopathy is a type of neuropathy, meaning that affected nerves do not work as they normally would. Symptoms may include pain, tingling, poor muscle control and/or limb weakness. Some of the possible causes of radiculopathy include spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative discs and bone spurs.
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Sciatica

Sciatica commonly refers to symptoms of pain, weakness, and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. Sciatica has several causes. It may be caused by compression and/or irritation of one of the nerve roots that come out of the lower back and form the sciatic nerve. Or it may be caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself. The pain can be mild to severe. Other common causes of sciatica include a herniated lumbar disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome and pregnancy.

Common treatments for sciatica caused by a herniated disc include anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or steroids, physical therapy, chiropractic care, lumbar epidural steroid injections and surgery. The good news is that these symptoms usually resolve with anti-inflammatory medications, time and physical therapy. For intractable pain or progressive pain and weakness, a minimally invasive outpatient surgery usually provides immediate relief with very low risk.
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Scoliosis

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that occurs most often just before puberty. While scoliosis may be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the actual cause of most scoliosis is unknown. Many cases of scoliosis are mild, but some develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as the person grows.
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Spondylosis

Spondylosis, sometimes referred to as spinal osteoarthritis, is a degenerative disorder that may cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. The location and rate of this degeneration may affect the neck, mid- back or lumbar regions of the spine. Aging is the most common cause of spondylosis.
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Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a bone in the lower part of the spine slips out of the normal position onto the bone below it. While spondylosis is a fairly common condition in people of middle age and older, spondylolisthesis is not as common. Like spondylosis, spondylolisthesis can be caused by age-related degeneration, but it can also be caused by congenital weakness or trauma. In a normal spine, the vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other and are separated by discs, to form a single column. In spondylolisthesis, one vertebra slips forward and off of the vertebra below it, thus disturbing spinal column alignment.
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Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the progressive narrowing of the space in the spine reserved for the spinal cord and nerves. This condition becomes more common as we age and often progresses slowly over time. If untreated, it can have a severe impact on lifestyle and mobility as it may cause severe pain as the space for the spinal cord and nerves narrows.
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Thoracic Pain

Thoracic pain, also known as mid-back pain or upper back pain, is much less common than lumbar or neck pain. The thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae, labeled T1-T12. With markedly less mobility than the cervical spine and lumbar spine, the thoracic spine’s main function is to provide protection for the vital organs in the chest, such as the heart and lungs, as well as allow stability for standing upright. The most common causes of upper back pain are muscular irritation, myofascial pain and joint dysfunction.
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Weakness in the Extremities

Weakness in the extremities refers to weakness that occurs on one or both sides of the body, generally in either both arms or both legs. It can also be presented as weakness affecting all extremities, meaning both arms and both legs simultaneously. This is a relatively rare condition, as most neurological disorders typically begin with weakness on one side of the body or the other, with the body being divided vertically rather than horizontally.

The most common cause of bilateral weakness is injury. This can occur either to the spinal cord, muscles in both arms or both legs, or to the spine itself. Often, this is temporary and once the injuries have had proper time to heal, the muscles eventually regain full strength. Sometimes this requires physical therapy to rebuild muscle mass, especially in instances of extended periods of recovery when the muscles have not been used.

Although relatively uncommon, sudden bilateral weakness can be a sign of a serious neurological disorder.
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