Lower back pain is a common health complaint around the world and can have a major impact on your quality of life.

This page is designed to give an overview of some of the leading causes of lower back pain, introduce you to Neo Medical’s cutting-edge treatment technologies, and answer some of your questions concerning what you can expect from your surgery.

It is not meant to replace any consultations you might wish to have with your physician or any other healthcare professional.

The information is intended to answer some of your questions and serve as a stimulus for you to ask further questions about your care. Not all the information here will apply to your individual treatment or its outcome.

Below you will find introductions to:

  • Spinal anatomy
  • The leading causes of lower back pain
  • Spinal treatment options
  • What you can expect from your spinal surgery
  • Neo Universal – Neo Medical’s ground-breaking ecosystem of treatment technologies

Spinal anatomy

About the Spine

The spine plays an extremely important role in human anatomy.

It provides a firm anchor for many of the muscles that support the upper body, allowing for a wide range of movement and flexibility. It also protects the spinal cord – your body’s central nervous structure that allows your brain to communicate with the rest of your body.

The spine runs all the way from the base of the skull to the base of the torso, and is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae.

These bones are grouped into different ‘regions’. From top to bottom, these regions are called:

  • The cervical spine,
  • The thoracic spine,
  • The lumbar spine,
  • The sacrum
  • and the coccyx

The image below shows how all these groups link together to make the whole spine. This person would be facing right.

The discs are made of two parts: a tough and fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosis) and a soft, gelatinous center (nucleus pulposus). These work together to allow the spine to move, preventing friction between the vertebrae, and absorbing any shocks that may otherwise damage the spine. The joints between vertebrae are called ‘facet joints’.

Spine Pathologies

Leading causes of lower back pain

What can cause pain?

Lower back pain is a very common health complaint, and one that can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Around 80% of all people will suffer with some form of lower back pain sometime in their lives, involving pathologies – problems – that impact some combination of their muscles, nerves, and bones.

Bone and joint conditions that lead to lower back pain include those existing from birth (congenital), those that result from wear and tear (degenerative), and those that stem from injury (trauma).

Symptoms are mainly caused by spinal instability, or by disc, bone or ligaments pressing onto nervous tissue.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

As we age, the water and protein content of the body’s cartilage changes. This change results in weaker, thinner, and more fragile cartilage. Because both the discs and the joints that connect vertebrae (facet joints) are partly composed of cartilage, these areas are susceptible to these degenerative changes.

These changes can cause intervertebral discs to herniate, bulge, or leak. Bulges or leaks can result in the nerve roots and spinal cord being compressed, causing symptoms including, but not limited to, lower back and/or leg pain.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is caused by the narrowing of the spaces within the spine and subsequent pressure on the nerves that pass through them.

Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck. Depending on the location and how much narrowing occurs over time, a spinal nerve or the spinal cord could become compressed and cause pain, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness.

Spondylolisthesis (‘Slipped vertebra’)

Spondylolisthesis is Latin for “slipped vertebral body”, and it is diagnosed when one vertebra slips forward over the one below it.

This condition occurs as a consequence of the general aging process in which the bones, joints, and ligaments in the spine weaken over time, and become less able to hold the spinal column in alignment. It may, however, also be caused by stress fractures, or congenital abnormalities, and in rare cases from a tumour or trauma.

Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis, describes a side-to-side curvature of the spine caused by degeneration of the facet joints and intervertebral discs – the moving parts of the spine.

This adult degeneration and resulting spinal asymmetry can occur slowly over time as a person ages, and may cause symptoms including lower back and/or leg pain.

Traumatic Injury to the bones and joints

Fractures of the thoraco-lumbar spine and sacrum bone (the middle and lower regions of the spine) most commonly affect elderly people with osteoporosis. For these individuals, even minimal stresses on the spine can lead to bone fracture. Vertebral fractures in younger patients occur mainly after severe trauma, such as from motor-vehicle accidents or falls.

Tumors

Low back pain can also be caused by tumors that originate in the bone of the spine and spinal cord, and those that originate elsewhere, and spread to these areas (metastases).

As these develop, they take up space within the spinal structure, applying pressure to joints and/or nerves, resulting in localized and/or dispersed pain.

Spinal treatment options

Solutions

What are my Treatment Options?

With your physician you will be able to discuss treatment options appropriate for your individual situation. Back pain can often be treated with a combination of conservative treatments, such as manual therapy, exercise, medication, and lifestyle changes.

If symptoms do not improve with conservative treatment, or if symptoms are increasing or worsening, physicians may recommend spinal surgery.

A surgical technique known as Spinal Fusion is used to treat these disorders. Metal screws, rods and cages are used to fuse together two or more adjacent vertebrae. The aim is to stabilize the spine and stop the motion of spinal vertebral segments, and to relieve pain by eliminating pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Neo Medical specialise in developing advanced tools surgeons can use to carry out these procedures.

What you can expect from your spinal surgery

What Can I Expect?

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