Spinal disease

Spinal disease
Classification and external resources
Specialty rheumatology
ICD-10 M40-M54
ICD-9-CM 720-724
MeSH D013122

Spinal disease (also known as a dorsopathy) refers to a condition impairing the backbone.[1] These include various diseases of the back or spine ("dorso-"), such as kyphosis. Dorsalgia refers to those conditions causing back pain. An example is scoliosis.


There are many recognized spinal diseases, some more common than others. Spinal disease also includes cervical spine diseases, which are diseases in the vertebrae of the neck. A lot of flexibility is allowed with the cervical spine and because of that, it is common for an individual to damage that area, especially after a long period of time. Some of the common cervical spine diseases include degenerative disc disease, cervical stenosis, and cervical disc herniation. Degenerative disc disease occurs over time when the discs within each vertebrae in the neck begin to fall apart and become worse. Because each vertebrae can cause pain in different areas of the body, the pain from the disease can be sensed in the back, leg, neck area, or even the arms. When the spinal canal begins to lose its gap and gets thinner, it can cause pain in the neck, which can also cause a numb feeling in the arms and hands. Those are the symptoms of the cervical stenosis disease. The discs between each vertebrae have fibers that can begin to deteriorate, and this occurs in the cervical disc herniation. This disease is less common in younger people, but can occur from aging.[2]


Scoliosis is a common spinal disease in which the spine has a curvature usually in the shape of the letter "C" or "S". This is most common in girls, but there is no specific cause for scoliosis. Only a few symptoms occur for one with this disease, which include feeling tired in the spinal region or backaches. Generally, if the hips or shoulders are uneven, or if the spine curves, it is due to scoliosis and should be seen by a doctor.[3]


A spinal tumor is when unusual tissue begins growing and spreading in the spinal columns or spinal cords. The unusual tissue builds up from abnormal cells that multiply quickly in a specific region. Tumors generally are broken down into categories known as benign, meaning non-cancerous, or malignant, meaning cancerous, and also primary or secondary. Primary spinal tumors begin in either the spinal cord or spinal column, whereas secondary spinal tumors begin elsewhere and spread to the spinal region.[4]


Symptoms for spinal tumors may vary due to factors such as the type of tumor, the region of the spine, and the health of the patient. Back pain is the most common symptom and it can be a problem if the pain is severe, has a time frame that lasts longer than it would for a normal injury, and becomes worse while laying down or at rest. Other symptoms, excluding back pains, are loss of muscle function, loss of bowel or bladder function, pain in the legs, scoliosis, or even unusual sensations in the legs.[4][5][6]


The primary tumor has no known cause, although there are possible answers that scientists have researched. Cancer may be linked to genes because research shows that in certain families, the incidents of spinal tumors are higher. Two of the genetic disorders that may affect spinal tumors, include Von Hippel-Lindau disease and Neurofibromatosis 2. Von Hippel-Lindau disease is a non-cancerous tumor of blood vessels that occur in the brain, spinal cord, or even tumors in the kidneys. The Neuroflibromatosis 2 is a non-cancerous tumor that usually affects the nerves for hearing. Loss of hearing in one or both ears, is a common effect of this genetic disorder.[4]


The spine consists of the spinal cord, which is a group of nerves that are protected by the individual vertebrae of the spine.[7] The main function of the spinal cord is to send signals from the brain to other regions of the body. It is the main messenger throughout the body.[8] Spinal cord injuries can either be complete or incomplete. If sensations and movements are lost below the injured area, the injury is complete. On the other hand when only a small portion of the feeling and movements below the injured area is lost, the injury is considered incomplete.[9] Traumatic car accidents, sports injuries, and falls can all be a cause for either incomplete or complete spinal injury. Athletes are especially susceptible to becoming involved in high collision spinal injuries. Some of the more common injuries include any type of sprain and strain of the spinal cord. These injuries can either occur alone, or with another spinal disease. Dislocations and fractures are also common in spine injuries. Other spinal injuries include stingers and burners and cervical cord neurapraxia. Apophyseal Ring Avulsion/Fracture, Spondydololysis, and Acute Disc injury, are specifically thoracolumbar injuries, which refers to the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine.[10]


  1. "MedlinePlus: Spinal Diseases".
  2. "Cervical Spinal Disorders". Pacific Orthopaedic Associates. Pacific Orthopaedic Associates.
  3. "Scoliosis". New York Times. New York Times.
  4. 1 2 3 "Spinal Tumors". American Association Neurological Surgeons. American Association Neurological Surgeons.
  5. "Spinal Tumor". New York Times. New York Times.
  6. Micheli, Lyle; Stein, Cynthia; O'Brien, Michael; d’Hemecourt, Pierre (23 November 2013). Spinal Injuries and Conditions in Young Athletes. Springer New York. ISBN 978-1-4614-4752-8.
  7. "Spinal Cord Diseases". Medline Plus. Medline Plus. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  8. Michael, Rubin. "Overview of Spinal Cord Disorders". Merck Manuel. Retrieved October 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. "Spinal Cord Injury". Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  10. Micheli, Lyle; Stein, Cynthia; O'Brien, Michael; d’Hemecourt, Pierre (23 November 2013). Spinal Injuries and Conditions in Young Athletes. Springer New York. ISBN 978-1-4614-4752-8.
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