The intervertebral disc is composed of an inner gelatinous layer surrounded by a tough outer fibrous layer. Damage or degeneration to the disc can cause the inner disc material to push through, or herniate through, the outer layers towards the spinal canal. Aside from localized pain from the damaged disc, the disc material can put pressure on a nerve root inside the spinal canal. Pressure on a lumbar nerve root can lead to leg pain, or sciatica. Pressure on a cervical nerve root from a herniated cervicaldisc can lead to pain into the arm and hand.
When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, the material that is leaking out of the inside of the disc may pinch or irritate a nearby nerve. This type of pathology produces pain called radicular pain (e.g., nerve root pain) leading to pain that may radiate to other parts of the body, such as from the low back down the leg or from the neck down the arm. Leg pain from a pinched nerve is usually described as sciatica.
When a patient has a symptomatic degenerated disc or injured disc (one that causes low back pain and/or leg pain), it is the disc space itself that is painful and the source of pain. This type of pain is typically called axial pain.
Any of the above three conditions can occur in the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper) or lumbar (lower) spine. They tend to be most common in the lower back because the lower back bears the most torque and force on a day to day basis.
Degenerated disc disease is not actually a disease, but instead part of the normal aging process of the spine that can be worsened from injuries that are not properly rehabilitated. Major injuries to the discs can occur from falls, trauma or auto-accidents. Repetitive micro-traumas from repeated activities like lifting or prolonged sitting can cause the degenerative effects to occur at in increased rate. Pain from degenerative discs can flare up from a month to month basis and can be debilitating; limiting the ability to perform normal activities of daily living.
Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of problems. Discovering the root cause, or pain generator, of your pain is essential for effective treatment of problem. The lower back is structurally supported by the vertebra, intervertebral discs, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Damage or irritation of these structures can cause localized lower back pain or referred/radiating pain into other parts of the body. The source of the pain can include:
Lower back problems can cause involuntary muscle spasms that can cause increased pain and disability.
Neck pain is caused by dysfunction of any of the structures in the neck, which includes the vertebra, muscles, intervertebral discs, nerves and ligaments. A frequent cause of neck pain is due to muscle strain and tension from every day activities. These activities can include:
This condition is commonly referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease. It is the most common chronic condition that effects your body’s joints. There are no specific causes for osteoarthritis, but there are several factors that lead to its development including excessive weight, injury, genetics and overuse.
This condition occurs when there is damage to the cartilaginous cushion that is present in each of your joints. The breakdown of this joint cushion leads to pain, stiffness and swelling (inflammation). The symptoms may be worse upon waking in the morning, after resting, or with extended physical activities.
There are over 200 types of unique headaches, with the most common being migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches and hypertensive headaches. The symptoms can range from sharp pains, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache. These symptoms can last anywhere from less than an hour to several days.Cervicogenic headaches are derived from dysfunction in the cervical spine. These are typically due to segmental dysfunction, or lack of movement in a motion segment, in the neck that leads to muscle tightness in the base of the skull. This pain can mimic other headache symptoms in quality and severity.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that is formed by the bones and ligaments in your wrist, and they protect the nerve and tendons that supply sensation and allows for fine movements of the fingers and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness and tingling into the hand, wrist and arm when there is excessive pressure or pinching on the nerve in your wrist. The factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome include daily hand use due to work activities or hobbies, underlying health problems, pregnancy, and the anatomy of your wrist. This problem is typically worse at night and with use. Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to atrophy of the muscles in your hand, chronic pain, numbness / tingling, and weakness.
Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash most often occurs during a rear-end auto accident, but the injury can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.
Common signs and symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness and headaches.
Sprains and strains are common injuries that share similar signs and symptoms, but involve different parts of your body.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most common location for a sprain due to an auto accident is the neck or low back due to forces these areas are subjected to at the time of impact.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. A tendon is a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones.
Work related injuries are injuries that are sustained at while at work and due to the type of work that perform. Most work place injuries can be considered in one of the following categories:
Overexertion: This is the number one work place injury in the United States, and it includes injuries caused by pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, throwing, and holding.
Slip and fall: These injuries usually occur when a worker trips over something or slips on a wet floor.
Falls from high places: Falls from elevated areas, such as ladders and roofs, can be extremely dangerous. Several hundred workers are killed by high falls every year. These accidents are most prevalent in the construction industry.
Falling objects: When large or heavy objects are dropped or fall from high places, they can cause serious head injuries to a worker below.
Motor vehicle accidents: When an employee is injured in a vehicle accident while driving for business purposes, it is considered a work-related injury.
Repetitive motion: These injuries typically build up over time until they reach a level at which irreparable damage has been caused. Repetitive motions can involve such basic tasks as sitting at a computer all day. Awkward wrist placement while typing can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, and improper posture while seated at a computer can cause severe back pain.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
While it isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.