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Know Your Neurological Back Conditions
Neurological back conditions, also known as lumbar conditions, include a wide range of specific conditions that can result from physical injury, muscle strain and certain diseases like arthritis.
Here is a brief description of the most common neurological back conditions and how they can be treated effectively by a qualified neurosurgeon
- Back Pain: This is a very common complaint that most people will experience at some point in their lives. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient in severity and include muscle ache, radiating pain down the patient’s leg, shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and the inability to stand up straight. Back pain can be caused by ligament or muscle strain, osteoarthritis, skeletal irregularities, osteoporosis or bulging/ruptured spinal disks. While mild back pain can be treated at home, any increase in the severity of the symptoms could indicate a more serious situation and a qualified physician should be contacted. Common treatments for back pain include medication, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory injections and, in severe cases, surgery.
- Lumbosacral Spondylosis: This is a term for the degeneration of the area where the last vertebra of the lower back connects with the base of the spine. This can cause herniated disks, bulging disks, bone spurs and other spinal abnormalities. Sometimes, these conditions can put pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain, tingling sensations and weakness. It’s important that patients see a doctor if they are affected by this condition as there are a variety of effective treatments available.
- Displacement Lumbar Disc: This neurological back condition occurs when the spinal disc displaces or herniates, putting pressure on the spinal chord or spinal nerve roots. This can cause a lot of discomfort and pain in the back, legs, arms and buttocks along with muscle spasms, numbness, tingling sensations and weakness. Some displacements will require minimally invasive surgery to correct them while many only require steroid injections, physical therapy and medication.
- Degeneration Lumbar Disc: As a result of wear-and-tear, genetics or a slowly progressing injury, discs in a patient’s lower back can start to degenerate, causing pain. This is a fairly common condition and is most often found in older patients. Symptoms include radiating aching lower back pain that lasts more than six weeks and is often worse when sitting, standing or twisting as well as numbness and tingling in the legs. This condition is most often treated non-surgically with medication, physical therapy and exercise, but surgery may be considered for patients that are still experiencing pain after six months after treatment.
- Lumbar Stenosis: This condition refers to a narrowing of the spine as it progresses to the lower back and is most often the result of osteoarthritis and the wear-and-tear that your joints experience over a lifetime. This condition can result is lower back pain as it puts pressure on your spinal nerves, numbness and trouble walking longer distances. There are many effective medications and physical therapy programs for this condition, but in very severe cases, surgery is an option.
- Lumbar Radiculopathy: This is a group of neurological back conditions that affect a patient’s spinal nerve roots. This category includes slipped discs, herniated discs and other conditions where spinal nerves are pinched and put under pressure. Sharp pain, weakness in the legs and pain that travels from the back down to the foot are all symptoms of these conditions. Anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and pain medications are commonly used to treat radiculopathy, but in some cases surgery may be necessary.
- Spondylolisthesis: Otherwise known as a slipped disc, this condition occurs when a vertebra slips forward over the one below it and is commonly a result of natural wear-and-tear. This can cause sharp lower back and leg pain as nerves can be pinched between discs. Aching pain is also a common symptom along with tiredness after walking or standing. This condition is commonly treated with behavior modification, physical therapy and medication. Surgery is a last resort and is rarely required except in emergency cases.
- Synovial Cyst: This is a benign cyst (non-malignant) that is commonly found in patients over 65 years old. Typically, these patients experience lower back pain that travels down to the legs while standing or walking. Treatment includes behavior modification, injections for pain relief and surgery.
- Lumbar Discitis: This is a low-grade infection of the disc space between connecting vertebra and most often affects young children who have contracted inflammatory conditions or staphylococcus viruses. The symptoms are usually a slow progressing lower back pain that becomes severe over time that can cause groin, leg and hip pain when sitting, standing or walking. Treatment for this condition is generally medication, antibiotics and a brace.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have neurological back or lumbar condition. Contact a board certified neurosurgeon today and find out about possible treatment.