What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain occurs when one or more nerves in the spinal column become impinged, or pinched. This is commonly caused by a disc or bone spur pushing into the canal that houses the spinal cord, the cauda equina, and the nerve roots.
At birth, discs are comprised primarily of water, but they tend to dry and shrink as a person ages, causing changes in the spinal column. Further changes can occur when a disc ruptures or herniates (protrudes) because of injury. Very often in response to these changes, tissue around the spinal canal thickens, reducing the space in the spinal canal. This narrowing is commonly called stenosis. Additionally, when the facet joints degenerate, they become larger, form spurs, and can pinch the nerve roots or even the spinal cord.
If you are unable to function at an acceptable level for your lifestyle, or your neurological deficit is becoming progressively worse in spite of conservative treatment, then surgery is often the recommended treatment. In the vast majority of cases, modern spinal surgery is extremely successful in alleviating pain and restoring mobility.
There are a number of different surgical approaches to relieving back pain. The following is a general description of some of the most commonly performed procedures:
- Discectomy – the removal of all or part of the offending disc
- Decompression – the removal of bone spurs
- Corpectomy – the removal of a vertebra
- Fusion – the joining of discs to prevent motion in the affected area