Diseases of the Spine and Spinal Cord
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Together, this stack forms the vertebral column. The topmost section of the vertebral column, the section in the neck, is called the cervical spine. The next section, located in the upper and mid-back, is called the thoracic spine. The vertebrae of the thoracic spine articulate with, or form joints with, the ribs.
Below the thoracic spine is the lumbar spine, in the lower back. Finally, the sacral spine is located below the small of the back, between the hips. Sturdy intervertebral discs connect the vertebrae. The intervertebral discs act as cushions and shock absorbers between the vertebrae.
Spinal stenosis - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Each disc is composed of a jelly-like core surrounded by a fibrous outer ring. In the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, all vertebrae are essentially similar. Each vertebra the singular of vertebrae is composed of two sections. One, the vertebral body , is a solid, cylindrical segment, shaped something like a marshmallow. It provides strength and stability to the spine. The other segment is an arch-shaped section of bone called the vertebral arch. Projecting from the back of the vertebral arch are segments of bones, called processes , that articulate with each other and provide attachment points for muscles, ligaments and tendons.
The vertebral arch is connected to the vertebral body by two small columns of bone called the pedicles. Together, the vertebral body, the pedicles, and the vertebral arch form a ring of bone around a hollow center.
Degenerative Spine Conditions
Stacked on top of one another in the spinal column, these rings align to form a long, well-protected channel known as the spinal canal. Inside the well-protected spinal canal is the spinal cord , the delicate bundle of nerves and other tissue that connects brain and body. The spinal canal also houses the beginning of the spinal nerve roots. These are the nerves that leave the spine, exiting the spinal canal through foramina small openings to branch out to the body. The spinal cord and nerve roots are suspended in a liquid called the cerebrospinal fluid. Membranes called the meninges act somewhat like the casing on a sausage, wrapping up the spinal cord, the nerve roots, and the CSF inside the spinal canal.
The outermost layer of the meninges is a tough tissue layer known as the dura mater. Degenerative spinal changes can affect almost every structure of the spine.
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For example:. Degenerative spine conditions vary widely in their presentation. Some cause no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they often include back pain or neck pain. Other symptoms depend on the location and type of problem. Many degenerative conditions do not require surgical treatment, but some may.
If a patient presents with symptoms associated with degenerative spine disorders, the doctor may order the following tests:. Since the causes of degenerative spine conditions will vary from patient to patient, no two treatments will be identical. Before surgery is considered, nonoperative treatments may be recommended. These measures include:.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended or required to treat a degenerative condition. The type of procedure depends on the type of condition and its severity. Surgery is considered when:. Procedures include:. During a spinal fusion, the surgeon will place a bone graft between the vertebrae to cause the bones to fuse grow together.
For a detailed explanation of specific degenerative spine conditions, refer to the individual pages. Paul C. Patrick C.
Reid are experts in treating degenerative spine conditions. Kaiser] has a great sense of humor. He made us feel at ease right away. Cauda Equina Syndrome.
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