Spine Disorders and Conditions
Spine disorders and conditions can develop due to an injury, cancer, infection or congenital defects, but spinal dysfunction is often the result of normal wear and tear and repeated stress placed on the spinal column over time. For this reason, age is a cause of many spinal conditions.
Disorders of the spine can impair a person’s ability to function painlessly and significantly impair quality of life. The nationally recognized spine experts at Tampa General Hospital can help. We diagnose and treat many spine disorders and conditions, and our fellowship-trained surgeons are extremely skilled in performing robotic and minimally invasive spinal surgeries to provide the best outcomes for our patients.
Anatomy of the Spine
The spine is a highly complex structure, involving vertebrae, pads of cartilage that separate vertebrae, joints that connect vertebrae together, the spinal cord and nerves and a host of muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues.
The spine is divided into three main segments: the neck (cervical spine), the mid-back (thoracic spine) and the lower back (lumbar spine). The highly sensitive spinal cord runs through the spinal canal and nerves branch off the cord to innervate the rest of the body. If one piece of this complicated anatomical puzzle becomes dysfunctional in some way, pain and other symptoms can result.
Conditions We Treat
At TGH, we diagnose and treat a variety of spine disorders and conditions, including:
When the spinal nerves that serve the arms become compressed in the cervical or thoracic spine, pain can radiate into the arms. Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve entrapment, which involve nerve compression in the wrist and elbow/forearm, can also cause arm pain.
Back pain is often caused by nerve compression, intervertebral disc issues and soft tissue strains and sprains.
Degenerative Spine Disease
This umbrella term refers to the natural degeneration of spinal components because of aging. Conditions often classified as degenerative spine diseases include:
- Bone spurs – Spinal bone spurs typically occur in the facet joints that connect two vertebrae.
- Degenerative disc disease – An intervertebral disc can bulge or even break open and protrude out of its intended space in the spinal column to compress spinal nerve tissue.
- Pinched nerves – The spinal cord and its associated nerves may be compressed by bone or other tissue along the length of the spine.
- Sciatica - This term describes the symptoms of leg pain due to compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal stenosis – This is the narrowing of the spinal canal, through which the spinal cord travels.
- Foraminal stenosis – This is the narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, through which spinal nerves travel to innervate the rest of the body.
- Arthritis of the spine – Also known as spinal osteoarthritis, this condition causes the cartilage between the spine’s joints to thin, often resulting in inflammation and joint pain.
- Spondylolisthesis – This condition occurs when a lumbar vertebra slips forward onto the vertebra directly below it.
Pain that radiates into one or both legs can occur as a result of a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine.
Similar to back pain, neck pain can be caused by nerve compression, muscle and ligament sprains and strains and cervical disc issues.
The pelvis supports the weight of the body and is susceptible to wear and tear in the unique pelvic joints and tissues. Infection, injury and reproductive organ disorders can also cause pelvic pain.
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction
The SI joints connect the sacrum bone and the iliac bones (hips) of the pelvis. Age-related degeneration, hormones and injuries can result in painful SI joint dysfunction.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries can occur by playing high-impact sports, motor vehicle accidents, falls or diseases like polio or spina bifida.
- Scoliosis – This condition describes the abnormal curvature of the spine, usually in an S or C shape. Scoliosis is most common among children and adolescents. We can treat the most challenging cases, including degenerative scoliosis and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
- Kyphosis – An abnormal outward curvature of the spine that can create the appearance of a hunchback. Chin on chest syndrome is severe kyphosis that affects the cervical and thoracic spine and causes the chin to drop to the chest.
- Hyperlordosis – A rare and abnormally excessive inward curvature of the lumbar spine.
Spinal fractures may be caused by traumatic injury or impacts. Fractures are especially likely to occur in people whose bones are weakened by osteoporosis.
Spinal tumors, whether benign or malignant, can invade the narrow spinal column and impinge upon the spinal cord. Tumors can also form within the bones of the spine, at the base of the skull and on the pituitary gland.
These and other spine disorders often cause pain when the changes in the spine result in compression of a nerve or the spinal cord itself. However, spine disorders can result in a number of other symptoms, including:
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Stiffness in the back or neck
- Limited range of motion in the spine
Treatment for Spine Disorders
Thanks to the expertise of our physicians and neurosurgeons, TGH’s staff can diagnose and treat spine disorders of any kind. From minimally invasive discectomies and fusions to complex spine surgeries to treat scoliosis and other spinal deformities, our expert surgeons perform a variety of spine surgeries that ensure the best outcomes for patients. Tampa General Hospital is also ranked among the Top 10 Hospitals in Florida and among the Top 10% in the U.S. for Neurology and Neurosurgery, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2020-2021.