Back, Neck and Spine Conditions
Back, Neck and Spine Conditions Need Expert Care
Back, neck and spine problems are common, but making an accurate diagnosis and recommending the best treatment options requires, advanced care. At Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin, we have experts who can diagnose, treat and manage the complete range of back, neck and spine disorders.
- Back pain – Back pain can have many causes, from injury and trauma to disease, infection, tumor, obesity and more. Back pain, whether acute or chronic, can be disabling. Our multidisciplinary orthopaedics team treats the entire spectrum of conditions that can cause back pain, and offers both non-surgical and, where appropriate, surgical treatment options.
- Cervical spine disc problems –The cervical spine is made up of the seven uppermost vertebrae surrounding and protecting the spinal cord. Cervical spine disorders can affect the neck and arms, and may include injuries of the muscles and ligaments, degenerative diseases like arthritis, and compression of the spinal cord.
- Degenerative disc disease – This describes back or neck pain caused by aging or wear-and-tear on the spinal discs. Treatment for degenerative disk disease depends on the extent of the condition and severity of the symptoms.
- Degenerative conditions – Degenerative conditions tend to progress or get worse over time. They include conditions such as:
- Disc herniation – The backbone is made up of vertebrae separated by spongy discs, strong connective tissue that acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. Herniated discs are those that have worn down, deteriorated or been damaged from injury, disease or normal aging. They may bulge out abnormally or rupture, pressing on nerve roots and causing pain.
- Cervical disc herniation - Refers to herniated disks in the upper back or neck.
- Lumbar disc herniation - Refers to herniated discs in the lower back.
- Myelopathy – This term commonly refers to compression of the spinal cord. It can cause weakness in the lower extremities and other symptoms in the arms, hands, legs and feet.
- Cervical myelopathy – Refers to loss of function in the upper and lower extremities because of compression in the cervical spine.
- Neck pain – Neck pain can result from injury, trauma, disease, infection, tumor, or other causes. Our multidisciplinary works together to treat neck pain, regardless of the cause. We offer surgical and non-surgical treatment options for most conditions.
- Nerve pain – When back, neck and spinal conditions affect nerves, patients may feel numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs, in addition to neck or back pain. The orthopaedic specialists at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin can accurately diagnose the cause of nerve pain and offer appropriate treatment options.
- Radiculopathy – Radiculopathy refers to disorder or compression of the nerve root that damages or impairs nerve function. It can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness.
- Cervical radiculopathy - Refers to affected nerves in the neck or upper back.
- Lumbar radiculopathy - Refers to affected nerves in the lower back. Also known as sciatica.
- Sciatica – Also known as lumbar radiculopathy, sciatica is pain that originates along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the primary nerve of the leg, extending from the back of the pelvis to the back of the thigh. It is also the largest nerve in the body. Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc or other conditions.
- Scoliosis – A degenerative condition that causes a side-to-side or lateral curvature of the spine, making it look like a “C” or “S”. Scoliosis can be present at birth, or caused by injury, disease, infection or an unknown cause. It is diagnosed in part through imaging, including X-ray, MRI and/or CT scans. It may be treated with observation and bracing, or surgery may become necessary. Early detection of scoliosis leads to better outcomes.
- Spinal fractures – Spinal fractures are often caused by trauma, but conditions like osteoporosis or some cancers, can weaken vertebrae and lead to compression fractures in the spine. Our multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic specialists can diagnose and treat all types of spinal fracture, regardless of the cause.
- Spinal infections – Spinal infections can occur after a surgery or they may have other causes. Factors such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and a weakened immune system can increase the risk of spinal infection. We have the expertise and advanced training to treat spinal infections effectively.
- Spinal stenosis – A narrowing of the space within the spinal column, spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition that can put pressure on the spinal column and nerve branches. Spinal stenosis can be related to aging. Non-surgical treatments are available, but surgery may be necessary in some cases.
- Cervical spinal stenosis - Refers to stenosis in the neck or upper back.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis - Refers to stenosis in the lower back.
- Spinal tumors – Spinal tumors may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous), but either type needs expert care. There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments available for spinal tumors, to relieve pain and address other symptoms. Learn more about spinal tumors through our Bone and Connective Tissue Cancer (Sarcoma) program.
- Spondylolysis – Spondylolysis refers to a crack, weakness, defect or stress fracture in the connection between vertebrae, called the pars interarticularis. This condition is one of the most common causes of low back pain in adolescent athletes. The pain often gets worse with activity. Spondylolysis may be treated non-surgically, including with medication. If vertebrae become weak enough, they may start to shift out of place, causing spondylolisthesis.
- Spondylolisthesis – A condition related to spondylolysis, where stress fractures weaken the vertebrae the point they start to slip out of place. Non-surgical treatments are available, but in some cases surgery may be necessary.
Other common conditions can affect the back and neck, including:
Last Review Date: March 26, 2013
Online Editor(s): Shannon Krause