Spinal Injuries

Spondylosis

This condition is also known as arthritis of the neck and it is the degeneration of the joints in the neck, or cervical region of the spine.  With age, joints lose their elasticity and experience added pressure as a result of the cartilage between them wearing away.  Some risk factors include smoking, an occupation with prevalent neck motion and previous neck injuries or trauma.  Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness that may worsen with activity, numbness, tingling, loss of balance, weakness in the hands or legs and frequent headaches.

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Physical therapy will primarily focus on stretching and strengthening the neck muscles for better support as well as ensure posture is correct because incorrect posture can cause added stress on the neck and back.

Spinal Stenosis

This injury is degenerative and occurs when space around the spinal cord narrows.  This narrowing puts extra pressure on the spinal cords and surround nerves, making the person feel pain down the back.  Causes for this condition are mostly getting older, however, particular motions can also progress its onset.   This pain may be stronger in the spot where the narrowing occurs, but may also radiate down the back.

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By stretching the back and strengthening the muscles, physical therapy will lessen the pain.

Sciatica

See “Herniated Disc”.  When a herniated disc occurs in the lower back, pressure is put on the Sciatic nerve which runs down the leg to the foot.  Pressure to this nerve causes pain running down the buttock and leg.  Pain may worsen when sitting for prolonged periods of time, bending and lifting objects.  Numbness, tingling and weakness that radiates down to the foot may also be felt.

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Physical therapy will work to ease the pain, stretch the back out and strengthen the back muscles to prevent further damage.

Herniated Disc

This injury is also called a “slipped” disc. A disk herniates when it’s nucleus, a jelly-like substance in the center meant for shock absorption, pushes against the outer part of the disk. In some cases, when the disk is worn with age or wear, the nucleus can push all the way through and it puts pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain. Lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting the wrong way can cause this injury.  Symptoms include back pain, especially when bending or lifting, and the pain may extend to the hip or buttock area.

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Physical therapy will utilize modalities such as heat, electrostimulation, and massage to ease pain.  Stretching, weight lifting and various exercises will also be completed to strengthen the back overall.