Your Symptoms

Symptoms of the spine can be very complex. There is always an overlay of symptoms, making it difficult for both patient and clinician to differentiate at times. To help you better understand your condition, I have simplified these symptoms as a rough guide. The majority of my patients will have a mixture of symptoms, hence it is important to be assessed by a clinician.

 Back & Neck Pain: 

Axial spinal pain is mainly due to the Spinal Working Unit issue. Let it be the disc or the joints or muscles surrounding it. The symptoms are not uncommon and are often described as dull, toothache, constant, stabbing pain at times. The nature of this pain is localised (confined to one area) e.g. band-like pain at the lower back and rarely travels down below the level of the knees. This pain can be aggravated by movement and tends to get worse at the end of the day. Walking, standing, sitting, or sleep can be affected. 

Arm & Leg Pain:

I consider this as a Spinal Motorway problem, and it is important to identify where the problem lies. These symptoms often are burning, tingling and shooting pain. It is radicular in nature, that it travels down the arms and legs and to the toes at times. Walking, prolonged standing or sitting often aggravates it and it can be associated with numbness or weakness. These symptoms need to be assessed by a clinician to plan further investigation.

Spinal Deformity:

This is a Working Unit related issue leading to a Spinal Motorway problem. The natural position of the head is over the pelvis, when observed from the front and from the side. Various conditions can lead to the development of deformity or change in natural shape of spine. In the younger age group, it is often noticed as one shoulder being higher with a prominent shoulder blade, and this is called Scoliosis.

However, in the elderly age group it is more related to degeneration (wear and tear) and often associated with both back pain and leg pain. The posture becomes more stooped as the deformity progresses and leads to further deterioration of symptoms such as a  reduction in walking and standing duration or distance.  

Non-Spinal Pain:

The spine is the superhighway connecting our brain (where pain sensations are received) and the rest of the body. Thus, pain from any part of the body will need to travel thought the spinal system. It is very important to differentiate these symptoms from spine related conditions. For example, a hip arthritis related pain could be misinterpreted as a spine related problem or vice versa.

Arthritic pain is different to nerve related pain and patients can generally differentiate these symptoms. However, many a time both the spinal and non-spinal causes of pain can co-exist, and it can be very difficult to differentiate these conditions. Other causes of leg pain, like Sacroilliac joint pain, pain-related to reduced blood supply to the leg and peripheral neuropathy (Distal nerve ending condition) also needs to be differentiated.

It is advisable to seek medical attention if you have any concerns.

Spinal Surgeon

Mr. N K Rath

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