Back conditions

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Did an injury leave you with chronic back or neck pain, or are you feeling the degenerative effects of arthritis? Is nerve pain causing chronic back or neck pain and stiffness?

Countless conditions could be causing your pain, whether it's:

  • Neck pain.
  • Upper back pain.
  • Middle back pain.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Sciatica (leg pain caused by nerve compression in the lower back).
  • Arm pain from nerve compression in the neck.
  • Numbness or weakness in the back, neck or limbs.
Back conditions

Causes

The most common causes of chronic and acute back and neck pain include:

  • Arthritis: A degenerative condition that takes a toll on the cartilage in your spine, which can result in nerve pain, numbness or weakness. Arthritic back conditions are most common in individuals 55 and older.
  • Muscle strains: These usually resolve without the need for medical or surgical intervention.
  • Lumbar or cervical disk herniation: Sometimes referred to as a slipped disk or ruptured disk, this can happen if you lift something the wrong way, or if you lift something that's too heavy.

There are many other spine diseases, disorders and deformities that range from common to complex.

When to see an orthopedic surgeon

If your primary care physician or other provider hasn't been able to free you from pain, it might be time to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating spine conditions.

HonorHealth's network of board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons treats all injuries and conditions of the spine. Some of the most common conditions requiring surgery include:

  • Herniated disk: Sometimes called a slipped or ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when the soft middle part of the rubbery disk between the vertebrae pushes out and becomes exposed. A herniated disk can affect the nerves, causing pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.
  • Instability (spondylolisthesis): This is abnormal or excessive movement between the vertebrae.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This is a defect in the vertebra where the front and back of the spine connect, causing instability.
  • Muscle strain or pull: It usually develops in the lower back and can be treated non-surgically.
  • Nerve compression: Sometimes called compression neuropathy, nerve compression occurs when a nerve is under direct pressure and/or becomes trapped by the vertebrae.
  • Sciatica: Leg pain caused by nerve compression in the lower back, sciatica is among the most common back conditions. Sciatica usually results from disk herniation or arthritis.
  • Scoliosis: This happens when the spine curves to the side, most often developing during growth spurts before the onset of puberty. Alternatively, it can occur in older adults from progressive arthritis of the spine.
  • Spinal compression fracture: Broken or cracked vertebra, it often results from trauma, particularly in those whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis.
  • Spinal stenosis: Narrowing in the spine, often due to arthritis, it puts pressure on the nerves in the spine, which may cause symptoms like:
    • Lower back and/or neck pain.
    • Tingling.
    • Numbness.
    • Muscle weakness.
  • Traumatic spine fractures: These usually are caused by a high-energy trauma such as a vehicle accident, sports accident or fall.

Care team

HonorHealth's orthopedic spine surgeons collaborate with other experts to diagnose and treat acute and chronic spine injuries, diseases, disorders and deformities of the spine that range from common to complex. In addition to an orthopedic surgeon, your multidisciplinary team may include a:

  • Primary care physician.
  • Pain management physician.
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist.
  • Physical therapist.

These experts work together to provide a range of medical and surgical treatment options, including offering spine surgery for pediatric orthopedic patients at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center.

Depending on your condition, the goals of back surgery may include:

  • Decompressing a nerve root or the spinal cord.
  • Stabilizing an unsteady or painful part of the spine.
  • Reducing deformity caused by an injury, disease or disorder.

Learn more about back surgery and other treatment options to help alleviate back or neck pain.