Back pain is here to stay. 16 million Americans have persistent back pain that limits their daily activities. This makes it one of the most common medical problems in the United States.
One reason why back pain is so prominent is spinal injuries and disorders. You may experience a number of issues with your spine, even if you are young and physically active. Before you go to a spine doctor in Maryland for pain, you should understand what is causing your symptoms.
What types of back injuries can you experience? How do these injuries affect your mobility, and what symptoms do they cause besides pain? What can a doctor do for you?
Answer these questions and you can take charge of your spinal health. Here are 10 types of spinal disorders and injuries you should be aware of.
Scoliosis occurs when a person has a sideways curvature in their spine. Most people with scoliosis receive a diagnosis when they are an adolescent.
Scoliosis can occur due to neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy. Birth defects and surgery on the chest and spine can also lead to curvatures. On rare occasions, an injury or infection can force the spinal cord out of place.
Mild cases of scoliosis can be hard to notice. Many students receive tests for scoliosis in middle school and high school, and this may be the first time their scoliosis is spotted. Signs of scoliosis include uneven shoulders and ribs.
A misaligned or curved spine can put pressure on the lungs and rib cage. It can also cause chronic pain by damaging the muscles and nerves.
You should get spine injury treatment in Elkridge, Maryland if you have problems with scoliosis. You may need surgery to keep your scoliosis from getting worse, and you may need to wear a back brace.
When people think about types of spinal injuries, they often think about paralysis. Paralysis or paraplegia occurs when a person has difficulty moving their body from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury. Some people cannot move their legs at all while others have limited mobility.
Damage to the lower part of your spinal cord can lead to paraplegia. A fall, car accident, or act of violence can cause spinal cord damage. Arthritis and inflammation in the spinal cord can lead to paralysis as well.
Paraplegia is a medical emergency. You should go to the hospital and then get spinal injury treatment in Elkridge, Maryland.
It is hard to reverse damage to your spinal cord. However, you can receive physical therapy to strengthen your muscles and learn how to use tools like a wheelchair.
Tetraplegia occurs when you have difficulty moving your body from the neck down. You may have some sensation in your hands, and you may be able to wiggle your fingers or toes. But some people with tetraplegia cannot move any part of their upper or lower body at all.
Damage to the upper part of the spinal cord can create tetraplegia. A head injury can also lead to tetraplegia, especially if the neck is affected as well.
Tetraplegia is also a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. Treatment depends on whether the injury is a complete or incomplete one.
If your spinal cord was damaged but not severed, you may be able to use electrical stimulation devices to walk again. You can also use voice-activated controls to operate devices in your house.
4. Broken Vertebrae
Your vertebra can break with little to no effect on your spinal cord. However, a broken vertebra can be extremely painful and limit your mobility.
Trauma can cause a broken vertebra. But bone conditions and aging can cause the vertebrae to wear down, eventually leading to a fracture. This can make broken vertebrae hard to notice.
Signs of a broken vertebra include back pain, a hunched posture, and tingling. If you believe you broke a vertebra, you should go to your doctor as soon as possible. Pieces of your vertebra can damage your spinal cord.
You may need to wear a brace for a few weeks to prevent your spine from curving. You may need surgery if your vertebra is significantly damaged or if your spine is starting to curve. Spinal injury treatment in Maryland is available if you have difficulty walking after a broken vertebra.
5. Herniated Discs
A disc lies in between each vertebra, cushioning the vertebrae from damage. If a disc slides out of place, a person develops a herniated disc. The vertebrae remain intact, but the spine becomes skewed and back pain can develop.
Trauma can force a disc out of place, but discs also deteriorate as a person gets older. Many older people herniate a disc by bending over or twisting their back.
The symptoms of a herniated disc vary. Some people may experience no pain whatsoever while others feel intense pain.
You should go to a spinal doctor in Maryland to receive a medical evaluation. Leaving a herniated disc in place can cause nerve damage in the back and shoulders. Most people recover by resting and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to manage their pain.
6. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows in your lower back. This places pressure on your nerves, which can cause pain and a loss of sensation in your feet and legs.
Most people experience stenosis due to osteoarthritis. Cartilage in their spine begins to break down, causing the spinal canal to narrow. Degenerative bone diseases and rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to stenosis.
You will need physical therapy to strengthen your back and restore your mobility. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce pain and swelling, though some people need epidural steroid injections to reduce their swelling.
7. Spinal Tumors
Tumors can grow in any part of the spinal cord or spinal column. Tumors can also grow in the membrane outside the spinal cord, applying pressure against the spine.
Having a tumor in your spine may not mean you have cancer. Some tumors are benign.
Symptoms can vary. Many people experience pain that is not associated with an injury or physical activity. You may be resting or sitting down and feel intense back pain.
You should go to your doctor and get a comprehensive evaluation. You may need an X-ray or a CT scan so your doctor can spot the tumor in your spine. Doctors can extract tissue from the tumor to determine if it is cancerous.
You should go to spine specialists in Maryland for another evaluation. They can consult with your doctor to determine if you need surgery to remove the tumor and correct your spine.
8. Congenital Defects
Congenital spine defects are present at birth. Scoliosis is one type of defect, but there are a few other common ones.
In spina bifida, the spine and spinal cord do not form correctly. A sac of fluid can form in the baby's back, which can deform the spine and result in a loss of mobility and sensation.
Kyphosis causes the upper spine to become rounded. Severe cases of kyphosis can lead to significant pain as well as breathing and digestion problems.
Congenital defects require immediate intervention from spinal doctors. Treatment depends on the condition, but some children may need to wear braces and perform stretches to correct their spinal deformities.
9. Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition where the spinal discs become damaged, though they are not herniated. The liquid around the discs may dry out, causing the discs to rub together. Tears can develop on the exterior of the discs due to old age and excessive exercise.
Many people develop degenerative disc disease in their 30s or 40s. Pain develops when a person sits down, bends their back, or lifts a heavy object. Pain can radiate from the back into the arms and legs, and muscle weakness can develop.
A doctor may need to run an MRI scan to examine how your discs are. If your discs are significantly damaged, you may need an artificial disc replacement.
10. Transverse Myelitis
Transverse myelitis is inflammation in the spinal cord. Bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses can attack the spinal cord and cause inflammation. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to inflammation and tissue damage in the spinal cord.
Symptoms of myelitis can occur quickly. You may lose feeling in your legs and arms, resulting in paraplegia. You may experience abnormal sensations like burning or coldness in your legs.
Your doctor may need an MRI and blood tests in order to diagnose you. If you have an infection that is causing your inflammation, you will need treatment for that infection.
To reduce your inflammation, you may need to take corticosteroid drugs and plasma exchange therapy. This will replace the plasma in your blood with new fluids to fight off your infection.
When You Should Go to a Spine Doctor in Maryland
You can suffer from many different spinal conditions. Scoliosis is one of the most common congenital defects. A car accident can create paraplegia and tetraplegia, which can cause you to lose control of your arms.
But you can also experience degenerative disorders and infections that can limit your mobility. Pay attention to your back and go to your doctor if you think something is wrong.