Spine Diseases: Infections, Injuries, Tumors, & Changes

Definition

Spinal diseases and disorders occur for many different reasons. Some diseases of the spine can cause severe symptoms and debility, while others produce no symptoms of illness. Some spinal diseases can appear to be identical, but cause varying degrees of pain in different individuals. The reason this happens is unknown.

  • Reasons spinal diseases occur can be due to infection of the spinal cord, or damage caused by infection or a loss of blood supply 
  • In many cases, the muscles become weak, or paralysis can occur. Sensation is often decreased, abnormal or is lost. Bladder and bowel function can also be affected 
  • The reason for a spinal disease is diagnosed based on a patient's symptoms, and the results of the physical examination and tests or imaging studies.
  • Once diagnosed, the reason for the spine disease is treated and corrected, if this is possible
  • Rehabilitation is often needed to help patients regain mobility and strength. Physical therapy is often recommended as part of rehab, depending on the reason for spinal disease. Know more about reasonos for spinal deseases...

Your spine is made up of vertebrae or backbones, stacked in a column. The vertebrae protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand up straight and to bend. Your spine allows you to turn your head and nod.

The spinal cord is the main line of communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Because the spinal cord and its nerves are located within the spinal column, spine diseases can have a tremendous impact on other body systems. Diseases of the spine can affect any part of the spine:

  • The cervical spine: the upper or neck area of the spine
  • The thoracic spine: the middle portion, which is connected to the ribs
  • The lumbar spine: the lower back
  • The sacral spine: the pelvic region

Even the coccyx, or tailbone, can be affected by a spinal disease.

A wide variety of disorders and diseases of the spine can develop, at almost any age or stage of life. These may include:  

  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Conditions that involve bone misalignment
  • Degenerative conditions

Symptoms of spinal diseases, like pain and muscle spasms, are most likely to appear when the spinal cord or its nerves are irritated or compressed. When this occurs with a spine disease, treatments vary and depend on the diagnosis, but goals of treatment typically are to remove the source of pressure, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation.

Symptoms of spine diseases vary and depend on what part of the spine is involved. Some symptoms may be mild, or they may be very severe. Spine disease symptoms may include:

Treatment of spinal diseases and conditions may involve the use of medications, physical therapy, braces, injections, or in some cases, surgery. 


Image of a spine disease xray that 2 doctors are discussing. Spine Injuries and Disorders2-1