Expert Diagnosis of Back Pain and Anatomy of the Spine
The spine is the central axis of the human body. It holds us upright, gives us mobility and protects the sensitive spinal cord. Despite its remarkable properties, however, more than 40% of all adults suffer from spinal disorders and lower back pain is one of the leading causes of work disability in the industrialized countries of the world. Moreover, the incidence of spinal disorders in individuals below twenty years of age continues to grow. Whether you suffer from temporary lumbago, chronic back pain, or a gradually worsening wear-related condition, it is essential to regard backpain as an important alarm signal.
The spinal column is the body's main support structure. It is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae.
The spinal vertebrae are divided into 5 groups
- Cervical - upper back: connecting the spine to the skull and allowing the head to nod.
- Thoracic - mid back: these vertebrae serve as attachments to the rib cage.
- Lumbar - lower back: this is the main weight-bearing section of the spinal column.
- Sacral Spine: these vertebrae are fused vertebrae and provide the attachment point for the pelvis.
- Coccygeal spine: These "tail bones" may be fused or separate and together form the Coccyx. The Coccyx helps support the back in the sitting position.
As well as supporting the weight of the body, the vertebrae protect the spinal cord and nerve roots. The nerve roots transmit signals between the spinal cord and other parts of the body.
Intervertebral discs are tough elastic cushions between the vertebral bodies. They provide a flexible cushion allowing the vertebrae to bend and twist.
What is the structure of the spine?
The nerve roots exit the spinal canal in pairs at the level of each disc through openings known as the neural foramina. Because the spine is such an intricate and complex structure (7 cervical, 12 thoracic and 5 lumbar vertebrae, the sacrum, the coccyx, the vertebral discs, the ligaments and the facet joints) it can give us problems.
Genetic disorders, poor posture, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and weak supporting muscles can cause both acute and chronic back pain.
While the causes of back pain are numerous, wear-related or degenerative conditions account for most back disorders.
Expert Diagnosis of Spine Disorders by a Back and Spine Specialist
Reasons for Back/Leg Pain
- Facet joint osteoarthritis
- Spinal disc protrusion
- Spinal disc herniation (disc prolapse)
- Foraminal stenosis
- Spinal canal stenosis
- Osteoporosis and vertebral fractures
A diagnosis of any of the above-mentioned spinal disorders will require a comprehensive physical examination carried out by an orthopaedic specialist.
In addition, a device-based visualization of your spine, including x-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be required.
A thorough neurological investigation may also be necessary.
Once your orthopaedic specialist has completed a differential diagnosis, a customized form of treatment will be selected in consultation with you. The precise treatment you receive will include some conservative methods (e.g. palliative care or pain therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture) and may also include minimally invasive surgical procedures.