I'm an unemployed 25 year old woman in a lot of pain. I just posted a blog on my MySpace page about the things that are wrong w/my back. I'm going to share it with you even though I'm sure everybody knows the definitions of my problems
So sorry for the length. I joined this group b/c I have been dealing with severe depression recently from the pain. I've been a chronic pain patient since May 2007.
DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE: Involves the intervertebral discs. Those are the pillow-like cushions between your vertebrae in your spine. They help your back carry weight and allow complex motions of the spine while maintaining stability. As you age, the discs can lose flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. They also become thinner as they dehydrate. When all that happens, the discs change from a supple state that allows fluid movement to a stiff and rigid state that restricts your movement and causes pain.
HERNIATED DISC :Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar (lower back) region, occurring there 15 times more often than in the cervical (upper back) area. A herniated disc refers to a disc that has ruptured, spilling its interior (the nucleus pulposus) out into the spinal canal. Often, this nucleus comes into contact with the thick cord of 31 nerves that runs through the canal. In the lumbar region, this compression causes symptoms of pain or numbness in the legs, feet, and buttocks. Severe pain in the lower back usually accompanies a herniated lumbar disc as well. Often this pain is so intense in some positions that certain activities become impossible. The pain of a herniated lumbar disc may be exacerbated by actions such as coughing, laughing or straining.
FORAMINAL NARROWING (Compressed Nerve Root): Nerve root compression can be a result of disease or injury. Any compromise of the nerve space in the spinal column can lead to compression of the nerve endings. Regardless of the cause, the result is usually the same--pain. Pain is sent from the source through the spinal cord nerves to the brain, where pain is interpreted. Before resolution can be obtained, it is crucial to determine the specific location in the spine where the compression exists. If the pain is acute at the onset, it is usually a result from an accident or trauma to the spinal column. Common causes are automobile accidents and falls. If the pain begins intermittently and progressively becomes worse, it may be disease related, the result of degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Regardless of the origin, successful treatment options are available.
FACET DISEASE (Osteoarthritis): In the spine, the facet joints are what allow the vertebrae to move in a flexible, controlled manner. Each vertebra has two facet joints, one on either side. Like knee or elbow joints, the facet joints are covered with slick articular cartilage, which allows for motion without excess friction. These facet joints are frequently in motion. Over time, like the other joints of the body, wear and tear may lead them to degenerate. When the cartilage in the facet joints deteriorates, the body may try to compensate for the weakened joints by producing osteophytes, or bone spurs. The joints can also become enlarged. However, the bone spurs and enlargement often only complicate the problem by projecting into the spinal canal.
SCIATICA: The sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, is formed by a bundle of nerve roots that come out of the lower portion of the spinal cord. This complex nerve runs from the sacral plexus into the spinal column on each side, out through the buttocks, down the back of the leg, and extends into the calf and foot. Pain associated with the route of the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica. Pain from sciatica is often more prominent on one side than the other, depending on the underlying cause. Because the most common cause of sciatica is a ruptured disc, one side tends to be more compressed than the other. In some cases, however, the total joint can be compressed, thereby affecting both extremities.
RETROLISTHESIS: The spinal bones (vertebrae) are all stacked up like children's blocks. Sometimes because of aging or trauma, one bone slips out of alignment and moves backwards, causing a retrolisthesis. The consequences of this are variable. If there's a minor amount of slippage, then this may not be an issue. If there is more movement, then the nerve at this level may become pinched. In addition, if there is too much movement, the facet joints at this level can become painful. If there is excessive movement, then the bones may irritate the spinal cord, causing numbness/tingling/weakness in both arms and legs.