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Spine Conditions

A healthy spine or vertebral column provides support for the body and protection for the spinal cord. It also allows you to move freely because of the three natural curves of the spine which keep your body balanced. Strong, flexible muscles and ligaments support the spine and keep the curves in normal alignment. Spine problems often start because of poor posture and/or sedentary lifestyle. Moving incorrectly also puts extra stress on the spine and discs.

The bones, or vertebrae, are stacked one on top of each other. Soft, cushioning discs, which act as shock absorbers, are located between each vertebrae allowing the spine to bend and move. The discs are made of a tough outer lining called the annulus, and a jelly-like center called the nucleus. The movement of fluid within the nucleus allows your vertebrae to rock back and forth on your discs, giving you the flexibility to bend and move. The shape, size and flexibility of your discs change throughout the day.

When the normal curvature of the spine is changed, there may be excess stress on structures, such as the bones, ligaments and discs. Disc degeneration occurs because of a gradual and progressive loss of water content in the nucleus of the disc. The result is a loss of elasticity, the disc becomes narrow and the vertebrae shift closer together, and causing compression to the nerve. Worn out or injured discs can lead to a variety of other spine and disc problems. The most common problems happen when discs tear, bulge or extrude, losing their ability to cushion and absorb shock. The rest of the spine may degenerate leading to pain, stiffness and other symptoms.

Other spinal conditions that may require surgery are:

  • Spinal stenosis occurs when the vertebral canal, nerve root canals or intervertebral foramina narrows causing irritation of the nearby nerves, congenital or due to spinal degeneration.
  • Bone spurs can develop, which can encroach upon, or narrow the spinal canal or spinal foramen.
  • Scoliosis is a lateral, or side to side, curvature of the spine, which can lead to disc degeneration and/or compression of the internal organs. Spondylolisthesis (a slippage) – is a displacement of one spinal vertebrae compared to another.

Surgery may be necessary to help correct any of these conditions. When this is the case, it is important to remember that proper exercise and good body mechanics will help your spine to heal and significantly reduce the risk of further injury

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