Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae -- the bones -- of your spine. When part of the disk becomes weak, such as from excessive physical strain, the gel within the disc can bulge, protrude, or extrude. This is commonly referred to as a herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc. When this occurs, the nerves from the spinal cord may become compressed, causing back pain and shooting pain down the legs called sciatica.
Also called osteophytes, these are bony formations that develop along the joint edge of the body or small joints of the vertebra, where they can pinch the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing pain in the neck or pain or tingling down the arms.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones gradually become weak and vulnerable to injury. The weakened vertebrae may collapse or fracture. These compression fractures may be painful and result in loss of height and may distort the curvature of the spine.
In osteoarthritis, cartilage becomes brittle and wears away. The cartilaginous discs or cushions between the bodies of the vertebrae -- the bones of the spine -- degenerate, resulting in pain and narrowing of the disc space. The cartilage caps of the facet joints wear, which causes pain and loss of flexibility. Furthermore, the narrowed space and the spurring can pinch the spinal nerves, resulting in pain and tingling down the arms.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory or arthritic condition affecting the spine. The ligaments of the spine become calcified, ultimately fusing the vertebrae and causing stiffness and pain in the neck and back. Most commonly experienced by young men, it generally starts as low back pain.
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