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Back Pain & Spine Health

  • Common Back & Spine Injuries

    Pain in the back of ankle

    The spine functions to provide structure and support to the body while protecting the spinal cord. Running from the base of the skull to the pelvis, the spine consists of a series of small bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other. Between each vertebrae, soft, gel-like cushions known as discs function to absorb shock and prevent friction. Nerves run within the spinal cord to transmit and receive messages between the brain and body.

    A healthy spine is important for optimal organ function and movement control. Any injury to the spinal area could lead to severe consequences. In this page, we look at the common injuries affecting the back and spinal area, the signs and symptoms to look out for, and the treatment options available.

    Lower Back Pain

    When it comes to spinal health, lower back pain is one of the most common conditions seen in men and women. Causes of lower back pain include poor posture, improper sleeping position, wrong lifting techniques or chronic overuse. These injuries may affect the intervertebral discs as well as the joints between vertebrae. Everyday activities may also lead to micro trauma in these areas over time, and hinder smooth movement and function. As a result, there is degeneration which can lead to general lower back pain.

    Signs and symptoms of lower back pain include pain in the back area, referred pain or altered sensation in the feet, pain upon weight bearing, pain during coughing or sneezing, muscle spasms, and limitation in movement. If you experience any of the symptoms, prompt diagnosis is important to prevent any long term injury.  Speak to your orthopaedic specialist to understand the injury causing your back pain, and the treatment options available.

  • Sciatica

    Young athlete with back pain

    The sciatic nerve extends from the back of the pelvis down to the back of the thigh. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and is also the primary nerve of the leg. It controls the muscles in the back of the lower leg and knee, while providing sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. Sciatica is when pain is experienced along the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc in the spine that presses on a spinal nerve. Less common causes include spinal injury or infection, growth within the spine (tumour), or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the nerve passages in spine).

    Signs & Symptoms

    Symptoms of sciatica may vary among individuals. Common symptoms include:

    • Lower back pain that radiates down the buttock and back of one thigh
    • Pain that extends down one leg
    • Sensory changes, eg. numbness, pins and needles, and the sensation of ants crawling
    • Weakness

    If you experience any of the above symptoms, speak to your orthopaedic specialist to understand more.

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor may check your medical history and perform a physical examination. Further diagnostic tests may be prescribed for a complete assessment, such as:

    • X-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

    Treatment

    Depending on the severity of the condition, your orthopaedic specialist may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) to help alleviate the pain. Physiotherapy may also be prescribed to help increase the range of motion over time. If your symptoms persist, surgery may be recommended to take the pressure off the affected spinal nerve.  Talk to your doctor to understand your condition and the treatment options available

  • Spondylosis

    Degenerative spine conditions

    Spondylosis usually involves the discs, ligaments, and joints, and is a degenerative condition affecting the spinal joints. Spondylosis results in the discs losing their cushioning effect between the vertebrae (spinal bones), and the ligaments thickening or weakening, which can lead to small stress fractures in the vertebrae that weaken the bones so much that one slips out of place. Key causes for spondylosis include repetitive stresses to the spine, aging wear and tear, and trauma. In severe cases, spondylosis may inflict pressure on the nerve roots, leading to pain or a tingling sensation in the legs or arms.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Most people with spondylosis have no symptoms and may not even be aware of their condition. Common symptoms include:

    • Pain radiating down the legs
    • Lower back pain
    • Difficulty maintaining an upright posture

    If you experience persisting symptoms of the above, talk to your orthopaedic specialist to understand your condition. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will help in prevention of any long term health complications.

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor may check your medical history and perform a physical examination to observe your posture, physical condition, range of motion, and any pain experienced during movement. The following diagnostic tests may be prescribed for a complete assessment, such as:

    • X-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan

    Treatment

    Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) to help alleviate the pain. Physiotherapy may also be prescribed to help to increase your range of motion over time. If your symptoms persist, or there is evidence of a severely compressed nerve, you may be recommended to undergo decompression surgery or a procedure known as spinal fusion.  Talk to your doctor to understand your condition and the treatment option best suited to your needs

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