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Spine

Bone Spurs

Sometimes, hard and smooth bumps of bone may form on the ends of existing bones. These are “bone spurs,” and they can form on the heels of the foot, hands, neck, shoulders, spine, knees, and hips. People who have this condition experience pain or stiffness when the bone spurs either press against other bones or put pressure on the nerves. Bone spurs are often the result of joint damage or degenerative joint disease, or they can form if a joint or tendon has been injured. Aside from pain or stiffness, other symptoms include muscle spasms and possibly bumps under the skin, mostly in the hands and fingers. Treatments can include over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, physical therapy, and possibly steroid shots or surgery if the diagnosis is more serious.

Disc Problems

The spine has sponge-like cushions that separate bones of the spine. These are known as the “discs” of the spine. Disc problems may evolve over time as a person ages, or if they experience a serious injury or irritation to the back. Symptoms of disc problems can include back pain that results from either prolonged periods of sitting in one position or from bending repeatedly. Additionally, if a person experiences a feeling of numbness or a pins-and-needles type of pain spreading to their arm or leg, it may be a sign that one or more discs in the spine is irritating a nerve causing the symptoms. Treatments for disc problems include short-term bed rest, limited activity, applying hot packs, and taking certain pain medications – either over-the-counter or as prescribed by a doctor.

Spinal Stenosis

There are spaces within the spine through which nerves travel. When these spaces narrow, the condition is known as “spinal stenosis.” Spinal stenosis tends to occur in people who are over 50 years of age, and the neck and lower back are the more commonly affected areas. Symptoms for spinal stenosis include neck pain, back pain, muscle weakness in hands, arms, feet, or legs, and difficulty walking and maintaining balance, and pain or cramping in the legs after sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. An X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or electromyography (EMG) can be used to diagnose this condition. Treatments for spinal stenosis may include over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs, physical therapy, and possibly steroid shots or surgery if the diagnosis is more serious. In some cases, acupuncture, massage therapy, or chiropractic treatment may help alleviate pain.

Spondylosis

Over time, as the spine undergoes wear and tear, or discs and joints gradually degenerate, the resulting condition is “spondylosis.” More often than not, spondylosis is not too serious a condition and those who have it tend to experience periodic pain and stiffness. This pain and stiffness can increase after certain movements or from sitting still for long periods of time. More serious symptoms of spondylosis may include weakness in the hands or legs, muscle spasms, difficulty walking and maintaining balance, and a grinding sensation in the spine. Treatments for spondylosis may include over-the-counter pain relievers, physical therapy, low-impact exercise, rest (when symptoms are active), and possibly steroid shots or surgery if the diagnosis is more serious. In some cases, acupuncture, massage therapy, ultrasound treatment, or chiropractic treatment may help alleviate pain.