What's Your Diagnosis?

The diagnosis of your spine condition may be confusing and hard to understand.  Here, in simple terms, are the basic definitions of the more common spine disorders.


ANNULAR TEAR - A disc is made up of a “jelly-like” center (nucleus) and an outer ring made up of fibrous tissue (annulus) that provides a protective structure around the nucleus center.  A tear(s) may form in the annulus either by injury or just aging of the spine.  

DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE or “DDD” - A degeneration of the disc between the vertebral bodies.  This is mostly an age-related condition but some trauma or injuries to the spine may result in a premature “aging” of the spine.

FAILED BACK SYNDROME - Persistent pain following back surgeries.

FRACTURE - Usually found in the vertebral body resulting from injury or trauma to the spine.  

HERNIATED NUCLEUS PULPOSUS/ HNP/ HERNIATED DISC - When the jelly-like center of the disc pushes through an annular tear.

NEUROCLAUDICATION - A symptom of pain caused by damage to the neurological system (spinal cord and nerves) and is often a symptom of spinal stenosis.  It may involve pain in the low back, buttock, and legs and is worse in activities such as walking or climbing stairs.  

PARS FRACTURE - A fracture of the bony ridge that attaches the vertebra to the spinal column.  Some people may be born with this deformity or it may result from spinal degeneration or aging.  This defect weakens that segment of the spine and may result in “Spondylolisthesis."

RADICULOPATHY - Pain that radiates from the source to another location; for example, pain radiating from the back into one or both legs, or from the neck into one or both arms.  This may be caused by inflammation, stenosis, or spondylolisthesis.

SCIATICA - Pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg caused by injury and/or inflammation and pressure on the sciatic nerve.

SCOLIOSIS - A condition where the spine is curved in three dimensions sometimes referred to as an “S” curve.

SPINAL STENOSIS - Severe clogging of a nerve channel.  This is usually age related and may often result in pain, weakness or numbness in both legs.

SPONDYLOLISTHESIS - The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae that stacked one on top of the other.  When a vertebra is slipped forward, out of alignment, it is called Spondylolisthesis.  This is usually a result to degeneration/aging of the spine but some people may be born with it.

SPONDYLITIS - Inflammation of the vertebra that most often involves one or more vertebral joint.

SPONDYLOLYSIS - Refers to a defect in one of the vertebra in the lower back, usually the last vertebra of the lumbar spine (L5-S1).  The pedicle is part of the bony ring that protects the spinal nerves.  In this condition, the back of the vertebra and the facet joints are not connected.

SPRAIN/STRAIN - Usually a self-limiting “achy back”, usually a result of poor body mechanics, improper lifting or twisting, and strenuous tasks as in shoveling.

WHIPLASH - A soft tissue injury to the neck, usually caused by a sudden flexion and extension of the neck.