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Cervical spine conditions may range from a mild physical discomfort (such as a stiff neck) to a more serious condition requiring surgery (such as a herniated disc or a major deformity). While there are standard treatments and surgical procedures, each case is different. Two people complaining of the same disorder, for example, may undergo a different procedure because of factors like age, severity of the disorder, other underlying health conditions, or previous spine surgeries.
Symptoms of cervical spine include pain in the neck, shoulder and arm, tingling and numbness, weakness, frequent stumbling, recurring headaches, weight loss, vomiting and a loss of balance. See your doctor immediately if your pain is accompanied by fever and chills, the numbness or tingling does not go away, you have frequent headaches, you’ve lost bladder control, and you feel weak or tired, especially in the arms and legs.
If you suspect you have a cervical spine condition, speak to your primary care physician or spine specialist. There is no need to panic, as in some cases these symptoms may not necessarily reflect a severe cervical spine condition.
If you’re looking at a diagram of the spinal column from the side, there are five areas: cervical (section closest to the neck), thoracic (chest area), lumbar (lower back), sacrum and coccyx.
The thoracic area is in the chest area and contains 12 vertebrae. A thoracic spine condition can be a simple back ache which can be treated with pain killers or with specific exercises. This condition usually disappears in two weeks. Thoracic pain may be more complex and could involve a spinal nerve root pain or what specialists call “red flag” conditions. These red flags require the attention of a medical professional. The thoracic pain could be the result of a serious trauma or injury, long term use of steroids, unexplained weight loss, structural deformity, neurological changes, and other factors.
Diagnosis of a thoracic spine condition is carried out in detail to determine the type of thoracic spine condition. Several treatment options are available ranging from the conservative to the more complex, depending on the type of thoracic spine condition. This is why it is important to see your doctor or specialist so he can decide which treatment is best for you.
Lumbar Spine (Lower Back)
The lumbar is located in the lowest part of the spine and has 5 vertebrae. These vertebrae are considered the largest in the entire spine so the lumbar spine is larger than the thoracic and cervical areas of spine. This means the lumbar spine has a much larger space for the nerves to move about.
Most of our weight bearing activities and other body movements (e.g. lifting, twisting, and engaging in certain sports) put much pressure on the lumbar spine; this is why many people complain of lower back pain.
Lumbar pain may be minor, simply requiring the application of heat. Moderate lumbar pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication but must be taken only on a short term basis. For more serious lumbar pain, you may be referred to a specialist to discuss surgery options.
While most lumbar spine surgeries produce good to excellent results, patients are advised to undergo an extensive rehabilitation program to strengthen muscles and joints that have become weak or fragile. Lumbar spine surgery may last from one to eight hours; spine fusion surgery takes longer. Blood tests, specific exercises, and medication all form part of the recovery/rehabilitation process.
Please Note: The information provided here serve only as guidelines and must not replace your doctor’s advice. If you need more information on any of the surgeries related to the neck, mid back and lower back, please contact us.