Why Take Care Of The Spine

Giving your body its distinct structure and support, the spine is essential in ensuring the mobility and flexibility of the different parts of the body. Also, it protects the spinal cord – a column of nerves that connects the brain to the rest of the body and is responsible for making sure that you can control your movements

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The Anatomy of The Spine

The spine consists of 24 bones (known as vertebrae) stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column. Between each vertebra is a soft cushion called the intervertebral disc that acts as ‘shock absorbers’ and facilitates mobility between the bones. There are groups of ligaments holding each vertebra to the others and tendons that join the muscles to them. The spinal column also has interconnecting joints known as facet joints. These joints connect the vertebrae and give them the flexibility to move against each other.

 

Each vertebrae has a hole in the centre so that it can hold and protect the spinal cord, which is made up of numerous neural (nerve) elements. These nerve tissues branch out to the different parts of the body and are responsible for carrying signals to and from the brain.

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Causes & Risk Factors of Spinal Conditions

As our lifestyles become more sedentary and many people work office jobs in which they have to sit for long periods, bad posture has become the leading cause of back pain.

 

Spine injuries are considered one of the most serious and debilitating as they have the potential to impact other areas and functions of the body. In serious cases, they can result in permanent damage or changes to body strength and sensation. In general, risk factors of spine injuries include:

 

  • A sudden, and large external force applied to the spine
  • Bad posture
  • Poor neck and back supports during rest or sleep
  • Jobs that require repetitive and bending and lifting movements of the back with loads
  • Impact sports
  • Bone and joint disorders such as osteoporosis, and arthritis
  • Age – older adults are more likely to suffer from spine injuries

 

Common injuries of the Spine:

 

Are You Experiencing Any of These Spine Conditions?

Degenerative Disc Disease
As one gets older (starting from late 30s), the spinal intervertebral discs start drying up and lose the ability to support the body’s weight, especially in bending movements. This can result in mechanical back pain, which worsens with activity and prolonged standing/sitting. Patients may also experience stiffness in the back, which may worsen during coughing or sneezing.

Disc Prolapse
The intervertebral disc comprises of a central component called the nucleus pulposus, contained by a tough capsule known as the annulus fibrosus. Certain traumatic conditions like sudden lifting of heavy weights can cause the nucleus pulposus to be pushed through its annulus fibrosus, resulting in a herniation or what is commonly known as “slipped disc” or disc prolapse. Consequently, this can impinge on the nerve root, causing a sensation of pain to radiate down the limb on the affected side.

Facet Joint Arthropathy
While the front or anterior part of the spine is supported by the intervertebral discs, the back or posterior part of the spine is supported by facet joints. With age, the facet joints can undergo wear and tear, resulting in arthropathy. This is made worse as the intervertebral discs also undergo dessication, thus transferring more pressure to the facet joints. Patients with facet joint arthropathy commonly complain of back pain that worsens with prolonged standing and straightening of the back.

Back Sprain
Back sprain often occurs in individuals who are subjected to sudden weight loading activities/movements that they are not used to. Pain can sometimes be very severe and patients might hold their back in a fixed position for a few hours to a few days. If the pain continues beyond a week and is associated with arm or leg weakness or numbness, or loss of bowel or urinary control, one should seek immediate medical evaluation.

Scoliosis
Scoliosis is often diagnosed in adolescents who are experiencing a growth spurt, which results in a sudden elongation of the spine, causing a rotational deformity in addition to a coronal (sideway) deformity. Consequently, this can result in the appearance of uneven shoulders or hip levels. Back pain in most adolescents with scoliosis is not actually due to the condition, but rather due to poor posture and weak muscles. Encouraging good posture and exercises such as swimming and yoga can help to improve back pain symptoms.

 

Common Symptoms of Spinal Conditions

Spinal injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

 

  • Loss of movement of legs
  • Loss or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Pain over the neck or back
  • Pain shooting down the legs or arms from the spine
  • Difficulty breathing, or coughing

 

Spine injuries are considered one of the most serious as they have the potential to impact other areas and functions of the body. In serious cases, they can result in permanent damage or changes to body strength and sensation. As such, an orthopaedist should always be consulted if you were to experience any spine-related symptoms.

 

Common Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment options such as:

  • Painkillers
  • Modification of lifestyle
  • Physiotherapy
  • Braces

 

The treatment options will be explained in detail during the consultation.

During the patient’s consultation, our specialists would evaluate the patient for:

  • Characteristics of the pain – Severity, location, duration, aggravating and relieving factors, and what has been done so far.
  • Neurological deficits – Weakness, numbness, signs or symptoms of myelopathy (difficulty with fine motor skills, development of abnormal reflexes, unsteady gait, loss of urinary or bladder control).
  • Red flag symptoms – Weight loss, loss of appetite, severe night pain, etc.

Further investigations with X-rays or MRI may be ordered if necessary.

In some cases, the MRI may reveal compression of the nerve root, spinal cord, and patients may continue to experience pain, weakness or numbness or progression in neurology. As such, surgery may be necessary.

Our doctors will explain clearly the reason for surgery, the nature of the surgery, and the expected recovery process. Ample time will be given for questions and decision-making. Ultimately, the decision is with the patient, but we will accompany them on the journey to get better.

Experience Value-driven Care Tailored To Your Needs

Our doctors are trained and highly experienced in diagnosing and treating orthopaedics conditions. We aim to provide you with quality care by thoroughly assessing your condition and personalising your treatments to your needs and goals.

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Enquire With Us or Call Us at +65 8884 1642