Spine Pain

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease is less of a disease and more of a condition experienced by persons over the age of 40. As a body ages, the discs that serve as “cushions between the vertebrae on the spinal column may flatten or dry out, lessening the discs ability to protect the vertebrae. When this deterioration happens, the vertebrae rub against each other causing pain and stiffness. Pain can range from mild to severe with pain primarily in the neck and lower pack which may extend to the arms and hands and also to the buttocks and thighs. The pain may become more severe when sitting or after lifting, twisting or bending while walking may lessen the pain. Treatment options vary and a consultation with a PCA physician will help to determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

Facet Pain/Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a general term often describing degenerative conditions in the spine, with specific reference to arthritis in the facet joints. While Spondylosis can affect anyone, it is generally brought on by aging when the spinal discs dehydrate and shrink and bone spurs develop. However, people with certain risk factors including a history of smoking, or trauma or jobs requiring hard labor, may also be at risk. The intensity of the symptoms can vary, but many spondylosis sufferers experience an aching or stiffness that is worse at night or in the morning. A feeling of tightness or muscle spasms occur with movement and spread into the middle of the back, or shoulders and head. An advanced case of Spondylosis may bring about numbness, tingling or weakness in the middle of the back, shoulders and into the arms. When you consult with a PCA physician, a treatment plan will develop to address the condition and the pain.

Herniated Discs (Cervical, Lumbar and Thoracic)

A herniated disc can occur in one of the three areas of the spine: cervical, lumbar or thoracic. In each of these areas, the disc which is the pillow-like cushion between each vertebrae begins to press on the nearby spinal nerve. Common references to a herniated disc include a pinched nerve, or a ruptured or slipped disc. Individuals at most risk for a herniated disc include those with excess body weight; those with jobs requiring pushing, pulling, lifting or bending sideways and twisting; a genetic predisposition to developing a herniated disc and smokers due to the lower amount of oxygen being supplied to the disc. Pain from a herniated disc varies based on the location of the disc in the spine, upper, middle or lower. Physical therapy, rest and patience are often key in resolving the pain as it is temporary and the pain of a herniated disc often can disappear in a number of weeks without intervention. A consultation with a PCA physician will determine the most appropriate treatment.


Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine, generally affecting the lower vertebrae, which happens when one of the vertebrae slips onto the bone beneath it. It happens when one of your vertebrae moves more than it should and slips out of place. It usually happens at the base of the spine. The pain is most often felt in the lower back or legs and the buttocks, and is felt when standing or walking, which worsens with activity. A person diagnosed with spondylolisthesis may have a family history of back problems, or be an athlete such as a weight lifter, gymnast or football lineman. Treatment options include physical therapy to strengthen the muscles or a back brace to support the spine. Your PCA physician will consult with you on your personal experience and condition to determine a course of treatment.

Vertebral Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis in the spine can cause a compression fracture that happens most commonly in the upper back. Soft and weakened bones caused by age-related osteoporosis cause these small tiny cracks that add up and cause a vertebrae to collapse, thus becoming a compression fracture. When bones become brittle and your vertebrae no longer can support you in daily living activities, such as bending to lift an item, or walking on a carpet or taking a step without tripping, your spinal bones are at risk of fracture. Persons with severe osteoarthritis can experience compression fractures with simple coughing or sneezing. As compression fractures increase, the spine’s actual shape can change your posture and you may lose several inches in height. Another group of people at risk are those with cancer which has spread to the bones.

The pain that comes from compression fractures can be worse when changing positions while in motion, but is often relieved with rest or being in a reclining position. Treatment options often include rest and limited pain medications. Your PCA physician will discuss a specific treatment plan for your pain.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is generally a product of aging as deterioration occurs throughout the body. With spinal stenosis, your spinal canal, or area formed by your vertebrae, begins to narrow causing the space between the vertebrae to narrow. When this narrowing occurs, a tightness can pinch the nerves surrounding the spinal cord which then causes pain, numbness or a tingling in your torso, legs and arms. You also may experience balance problems.

Sometimes sitting in a chair will alleviate the pain associated with spinal stenosis. People with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may be particularly affected by spinal stenosis. The narrowing process is slow, and if the narrowing is minimal, it’s probable that there will not be any symptoms.l A consultation with a PCA physician will determine the most appropriate treatment based on other health factors or the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing.