Overview of spinal column diseases

While many people might not think of the spinal column as being susceptible to diseases, the neck and back are composed of a complex system of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and other tissues that can weaken or become diseased just like any other part of the body. The spine is also a part of the body’s central nervous system, so anatomical abnormalities or dysfunctional nerves caused by disease can lead to symptoms that affect the entire body. To learn about the types of spinal column diseases and the treatments available for these conditions, read the following article.

Types of spinal column diseases

Tumors, infections, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and degenerative diseases can all affect the spine. Examples include:

  • Degenerative disc disease describes the gradual deterioration of discs due to wear that accompanies the aging process and is characterized by disc dehydration, loss of disc height and a reduction in collagen and proteoglycan levels
  • Facet disease describes a type of osteoarthritis characterized by the degeneration of cartilage that surrounds the spine’s facet joints, which allow adjacent vertebrae to articulate
  • Myelitis causes inflammation of the spinal cord itself, due to swelling of the substance that covers nerve cell fibers, which is called myelin
  • Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the vertebrae and facet joints, though it is more common for the sacroiliac joints at the base of the spine to be affected

Treatment options for spinal column diseases

Treatment of spinal column diseases will depend on the nature of the disease, its cause and the related symptoms. If a degenerative spine disease such as degenerative disc disease or facet disease causes anatomical abnormalities that painfully compress spinal nerves, many patients will be able to find relief through conservative treatments like pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cold compresses or hot and cold therapy.

Prior to undergoing this treatment regimen, be sure to talk to your doctor about your spinal condition to ensure that your symptoms don’t worsen. If several weeks or months of these methods prove ineffective, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. We offer a variety of minimally invasive surgical options that are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open neck and back surgery.^ Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient procedures.

At Laser Spine Institute, our procedures rely on our highly skilled surgeons to access the spine using smaller muscle-sparing incisions than traditional surgery. Since 2005, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their spinal column diseases, allowing us to help patients recapture their lives from debilitating spinal column diseases. Through a free MRI review,* our dedicated team can determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive surgical procedures.