Spine Conditions

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Do you have a spinal condition that’s causing you chronic pain intense enough to interfere with your life or day-to-day activities? Are you afraid you’ll never be able to get your pain under control or that it might continue to worsen as you age?


Well, you’re not alone.


Many people with spinal disorders feel frustrated, confused, and helpless about their conditions. As many as 500,000 people suffer from some form of spinal injury each year.


The good news is that you can ease your concerns and fears by gaining a better understanding of your condition.


At NJ Spine and Orthopedic, we work to help you understand your symptoms, diagnose your condition and inform you of the various treatments. Below is an overview of the most common types of spine conditions.

An Achilles Tendon Rupture occurs when the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone becomes torn. Usually, this happens during forceful lower body movements or fast-pivoting. This type of injury is frequently associated with “weekend warriors,” who may be more sedentary during the work week but engage in intense athletic activities during the weekend.

Common symptoms include:

  • Ankle, heel, or calf pain
  • Hearing a loud popping noise at the time of injury
  • Pain while walking or engaging in plantarflexion (i.e. pointing the toes downward)

An ankle fracture occurs when any of the bones that compose the ankle joint sustains a break. The ankle joint is the nexus were the tibia, fibula, and talus meet. Obviously, ankle fractures can come in many different varieties from simple, clean breaks to compound fractures. Depending upon the bones affected, the patient can experience different symptoms.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Foot & Ankle Pain
  • Local swelling or bruising
  • Bone Deformities

Ankle Instability occurs when the moving parts of your ankle (i.e. ligaments, tendons, and bones) wear down over time, making the ankle more prone to buckling and injury. Obviously, overuse (particularly in regard to athletics) is a common cause of the disorder; but anyone one with a genetically weak ankle or who uses the ankle repetitively (such as during their occupation) is at risk of developing this condition.

Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent buckling or “rolling” or the ankle while walking
  • Localized pain and swelling in the ankle joint
  • An unusually high frequency of ankle sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle suffer an injury, for example, when one steps the wrong way or rolls the foot too far inward or outward. Such injuries can involve many different ligaments, including the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), or the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL). For individuals with ankle instability, ankle sprains are particularly common.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Ankle pain or swelling
  • Tenderness to the touch or bruising
  • A popping sound or tearing sensation at the time of the injury

Basal Joint Arthritis develops when the cartilage that pads the trapezium bone of the wrist and the metacarpal bone of the thumb wears away. A common complication of aging or joint overuse, basal joint arthritis affects millions of sufferers in the U.S. The condition, which often co-occurs with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, generates pain in the thumb, hand, or forearm.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Localized or radiating pain in the thumb, wrist, hand, or forearm
  • Stiffness, weakness, or immobility in the thumb and/or hand
  • Visible deformities in the thumb joint

A biceps tendon tear occurs when the tendons that connect your biceps muscles to your shoulder and/or elbow suffers and injury and rips. Usually, this injury type predominantly affects athletes although anyone who engages in repetitive overhead motions is at an elevated risk of developing this condition. Furthermore, biceps tendon tears can be partial or complete in nature.

Common symptoms include:

  • A popping sound at the time of injury
  • Swelling in the upper arm near the shoulder (known as Popeye muscle)
  • Weakness in the shoulder or elbow

Do you suffer from persistent and chronic pain in your neck, upper back or lower back area? Approximately 1-2% of the population have serious bulging discs. A bulging disc is a common spinal injury that occurs when the exterior layer of the disc, known as the annulus, bulges outside the space it usually occupies between the vertebrae, causing chronic pain.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain or tingling in the shoulders, neck, arms and fingers, signaling a bulging disc in the cervical spine area.
  • Upper back pain that radiates to the stomach or chest, signaling a bulging disc in the thoracic spine area.
  • Lower back pain and muscle spasms signaling a bulging disc in the lumbar spine area.

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, occurs when a large bony bump develops along the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) where the innermost metatarsal bone meets the big toe. This bony protrusion typically forms when the MTP joint shifts out of alignment, forcing the big toe to turn inward, toward the second toe. This can lead to numerous secondary problems, such as calluses and corns, etc.

Common symptoms include:

  • A large bony bump that forms on the inside of the foot near the base of the big toe
  • Redness or soreness along the MTP joint
  • Pain while walking, particularly if the big toe begins to turn inward, toward the second toe

Do you suffer from chronic, crippling, or cramping pain in your hands or wrists? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve in the hand suffers compression. Your carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your carpal bones (i.e. wrist) through which the median nerve runs. This key nerve supplies sensation to your wrists, hands, and fingers. When your median nerve is damaged or compressed, neurological symptoms of pain or loss of fine motor control can occur.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain or Burning in the wrist/hand
  • Neuropathy (or Numbness & Tingling) in the hands/wrists/digits
  • Muscular weakness, cramping, or loss of fine motor control

Your spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae that are stacked upon one another. Coccydynia is a condition that causes persistent pain and tenderness in the last bone at the bottom of your spine, usually known as tailbone or coccyx. It is brought about by injury or strain to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the tailbone area.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Focal pain at the tip of the tailbone that gets worse when you sit too abruptly.

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve (i.e. your funny bone) becomes trapped or compressed by the cubital tunnel. The cubital tunnel is a narrow corridor that is made by the meeting of muscles and bones in your elbow. Your ulnar nerve passes through this tunnel on its way to innerve your forearm, hands, and small fingers.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the 4th and 5th fingers
  • Loss of hand strength
  • Radiating pain from the elbow into the forearm, hands, and fingers

Do you find that you can’t move your back the way you used to? Disc degeneration may be the culprit. Disc degeneration refers to the gradual breakdown of at least one of the intervertebral discs found in the spine. It is typically associated with aging and occurs when the discs lose their flexibility, elasticity and shock-absorbing characteristics due to years of wear and tear.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Chronic back or neck pain.
  • Pain and tingling in your legs or buttocks.
  • Difficulty walking.

A Diabetic Foot Ulcer often occurs in response to poor circulation or peripheral neuropathy from diabetes. Typically, an innocuous sore evolves rapidly into a much more serious condition, one that can require limb amputation if not promptly addressed. For individuals with diabetes, therefore, routine foot care becomes absolutely essential. One can prevent diabetic foot ulcers by instituting regular checks, cleaning, and supporting the feet.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Swelling, irritation, or redness at the site of the inflammation
  • An oozing sore on the foot with odorous discharge
  • The formation of an eschar, or black tissue, indicating infection and tissue death

If you participate in repetitive actions or awkward sitting positions, you run the risk of losing the optimal alignment of the spine. When this happens, you’ll lose functional strength and your spine will be more susceptible to a disc tear. Also known as a slipped, herniated or ruptured disc, disc tear is a condition in which the external layers of the intervertebral discs that cushion the spine develop a tear.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain in the area of the damaged disc.
  • Pain, tingling sensations and loss of reflexes in the affected areas.

Facet joints are the joints in your spine that give you the flexibility to bend, turn and twist. Facet joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is a type of pain that occurs at the joint between two vertebrae in your spinal area.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Discomfort while leaning forward or backward.
  • Persistent pain and tenderness in the inflamed joints.
  • Pain that radiates into the shoulders and upper back.

Failed surgery is a generalized term used to describe a condition where patients have not had satisfactory results with spinal or back surgery and have continued to experience chronic pain after the surgery.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Sharp, stabbing pain at the affected areas.
  • Dull, aching pain in the back or legs.

The term “foramen” refers to an opening. The term stenosis refers to a narrowing. Thus, foraminal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the cervical disc space (opening) in the spine. It is mostly caused by a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease or facet arthritis.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Chronic and debilitating back pain that limits your daily activities.
  • Numbness, tingling, weakness, burning sensations and “pins and needles” in the arms and legs.

Frozen shoulder occurs when the ligaments that compose your shoulder capsule begin to form scar tissue (whether from age, injury, or diseases such as diabetes). As the scar tissue accumulates, the loose connective tissue that forms your shoulder capsule begins to tighten. When the capsule becomes too stiff, the range of motion in your arm becomes limited and pain can result.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Dull, aching, or throbbing pain in the shoulder joint or outer arm
  • Stiffness as the range of motion in your arm declines
  • Muscle weakness as the use of your arm becomes limited

Golfer’s Elbow, or medial epicondylitis, occurs when the tendon that connects the inside of the elbow to the forearm becomes inflamed. Usually, this occurs when one engages in activities that apply repetitive stress to the flexor muscles of the wrist. Common activities that lead to this problem include golf, baseball, bowling, weight lifting, painting, yard work, or using a screwdriver.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain on the inside of the elbow
  • Numbness or tingling that radiates into the little and/or ring fingers
  • Loss of handgrip strength or inability to form a fist

A hammertoe is a type of toe deformity that affects the second, third, or fourth toes. It occurs when an unnatural bend develops in the proximal interphalangeal joint, aka the first bend in the toe, closest to the foot. Sometimes, this occurs in response to a congenital or neuromuscular imbalance in the toe muscles. Other times, environmental factors, like improper footwear, can bend the toe into unnatural positions.

Common symptoms include:

  • A dramatic bend in the first joint of the toe
  • Local pain, swelling, or redness in the affected digit
  • Development of corns and calluses as the unnatural bend of the toe comes into contact with the shoe

Did you know that the vertebrae that form your spine are protected by small, spongy discs? When your discs are in good shape, they keep the spine elastic and act as shock-absorbers. But when they get damaged due to overuse or injury, they may break or tear open. This is what’s called a herniated disc.

Herniated discs, just like bulging discs, can occur in the lumbar spine (lower back), cervical spine (neck) or thoracic spine (upper and mid-back).

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Dull ache to chronic and severe pain.
  • Numbness, burning and tingling.
  • Muscle spasms and weakness.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.

Hip Dysplasia is a congenital defect of the hip joint, in which the ball of the femur forms abnormally or the socket of the hip is too shallow. When these two structures fit together abnormally, excess friction, hip osteoarthritis, and pain can result. Hip Dysplasia affects over 20% of individuals who require a total hip replacement.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Aching pain in the groin or side of the hip
  • Crepitus, or crunching noises and sensations in the joint
  • Limping or pain with physical exertion

A hip labral tear occurs when the cartilage that lines the outer ridge of your hip socket suffers gradual trauma or sudden injury. A labral hip tear can occur for a variety of reasons from capsular laxity to hip impingement syndrome and sports injuries. Usually, pain is felt in a C-shape that encircles the hip from the front to back.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Groin or hip pain
  • Hip stiffness or decreased range of motion in the lower body
  • Instability or clicking in the hip

The hip is the third-most-susceptible part of the body to develop osteoarthritis, after the knees and the hands. Hip osteoarthritis is a degenerative inflammation that causes the breakdown of cartilage tissues in the hip area. With time, this degeneration may cause pain, swelling and even deformity.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Stiffness of the joints after sitting for a long time or when getting out of bed.
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness in the hip joint area.
  • Inability to move your hip to perform daily routine activities.

Knee Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the components of the knee joint begins to wear away. The knee, a synovial hinge joint, is formed by three bones: the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap). When the cartilage that lines these bones breaks down—whether from age or overuse—painful inflammation and joint damage can occur.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Inflammation, pain, or stiffness in the knee
  • Swelling and loss of range of motion in the joint
  • Feeling or hearing a grinding sensation when you use the knee


Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is not quite right. Lower back pain is often an indication that a nerve in the lumbar spine is being compacted or compressed and that pressure needs to be relieved.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Mild, intermittent discomfort to severe pain and disability in your lower back area.
  • Severe muscle spasms in the back area.

Morton’s Neuroma occurs when overuse of the foot causes the nerves that run between our toes to thicken. As these nerves harden, sufferers typically experience neurological symptoms of pain between the toes or in the ball of the foot. Individuals who participate in sports such as dance or running; those who wear improper footwear; and individuals who were born with sub-optimal foot anatomy (e.g. flat feet or high arches) develop this condition more frequently than the average population.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Localized pain in the balls of the feet or between the toes
  • The unshakable sensation that a pebble is lodged in your shoe
  • Limping to compensate for pain

Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage that cushions your bones begins to wear down from injury or the advanced stages of wear and tear. When this occurs, the bones at a joint may start to rub against one another instead of glide, thus creating friction and inflammation. OA affects 27 million Americans each year and is widely recognized as the most common form of joint disability in the world.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Joint pain, swelling, or inflexibility
  • Development of bone spurs
  • Loss of fine or gross motor control

Osteoporosis is an age-related condition that occurs when bone reabsorption outpaces bone reformation, leaving bones brittle and more prone to fracture. Although a measure of bone loss is considered to be a natural consequence of aging, osteoporosis results in excessively porous or fragile bones that fracture easily.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Unexplained or sudden neck or back pain
  • Bones that break or crack easily–particularly, affecting the shoulder, forearm, wrist, hip, and/or spine
  • Loss of height or kyphosis (aka “hunchback”)

Patellar Tendinitis (or Jumper’s Knee) occurs when the tendon that connects your patella (or kneecap) to your shinbone suffers inflammation or injury. Because overuse is the primary cause of patellar tendinitis, athletes are particularly at risk for developing this condition. “Weekend warriors” who fail to warm up or condition properly before working out may also sustain this type of injury.

Common symptoms include:

  • Knee pain at the base of the patella
  • Discomfort in the kneecap that occurs every time you begin to work out
  • Swelling or reduced range of motion in the knee joint

There’s no pain quite like a pinched nerve. It limits your flexibility, restricts your motion and makes it almost impossible to carry out your daily activities. A pinched nerve usually occurs when the peripheral nerve becomes compressed as it exits the spinal column. This often causes chronic pain.

Other Symptoms Include:

  • Uncomfortable sensations and numbness.

Plantar Fasciitis refers to any condition that causes inflammation or injury to the plantar fascia of the foot. Your plantar fascia—a nerve-rich connective structure—extends from your heel to the underside of your toes. Responsible for cushioning the components of your foot from injury, your plantar fascia can become irritated when overworked.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Stabbing pain in the heel or the arch of the foot
  • Intense foot discomfort in the morning, that subsides with subsequent activity
  • Symptoms of foot pain improve (instead of worsen) with exercise

A quadriceps tendon tear occurs when a tendon that attaches one of the four quadriceps muscles (the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius) to the kneecap suffers an injury. Usually, this condition affects middle-aged individuals who participate in sports, with men being 8 times more likely than women to sustain this type of injury.

Common symptoms include:

  • Hearing a snap or experiencing a ripping sensation at the time of the injury
  • Quadriceps pain, spasms, or cramping
  • Swelling around the kneecap


From top to bottom, down the full length of your spine, are nerves that exit through holes (foramen) on both the right side and left side of the spine. These nerves are called radicular nerves. In radiculopathy, a problem occurs when the nerves are compressed as they exit the spinal column.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain, numbness and tingling along the course of your spine.
  • Difficulty controlling specific muscles in your back.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis occurs when the tendons that support your shoulder joint sustain an injury or suffer inflammation. In individuals under age 35, rotator cuff tendinitis usually occurs as the result of a traumatic or sports-related injury. In individuals over age 35, this condition often emerges as the result of chronic strain on the shoulder joint.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Localized pain in the shoulder joint, ranging from dull and throbbing to sharp and stabbing
  • Radiating pain that travels from the outside of the bicep to the top portion of the shoulder
  • Discomfort that intensifies while raising the arms above the head or when reaching behind the body

Sacroiliitis is a term used to describe any inflammation in one or both sacroiliac joints. Sacroiliac joints are found in the lower parts of your back where the spine connects to the pelvis and lower skeleton near the hip area.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain in your buttocks area.
  • Pain that radiates down one or both legs.

Do you suffer from radiating pain down one or both of your legs? Sciatica is a condition caused by a compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs down from your lower back to the lower extremities. Compression of the sciatic nerve is often caused by disc herniation, disc bulge or misalignment.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Radiating leg pain that quickly transitions into tingling and then numbness.

Bursae are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that protect your shoulder against accidental injury from the spinal tissues that support it. In the shoulder, your Subacromial Bursa sits above the rotator cuff and below a portion of the shoulder blade known as the acromion bone. Shoulder Bursitis occurs when the Subacromial Bursa becomes inflamed or swollen.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Stabbing pain that radiates down the arm affected by the inflamed bursa
  • Swelling, tenderness, or throbbing in the shoulder joint
  • Discomfort that intensifies while lying on the affected side of the body or when engaging in overhead lifting

A SLAP tear occurs when the labrum of the shoulder tears from the anterior to posterior side where it attaches to the biceps tendon. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that lines the socket of the shoulder, also known as the glenoid cavity. These types of injuries can occur with repetitive motion (such as occupational injuries), from trauma, or age-related degeneration.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Shoulder pain paired with a catching sensation in the shoulder
  • Difficulty lifting objects above the head
  • Shoulder instability or loss of hand strength

The medical term for spinal bone spurs is spinal osteophytes, and they are tiny pieces of bone that stick out from the normal bone in areas where there is inflammation. Friction against other bones causes the production of additional bone cells.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Spinal bone spurs generally do not cause any symptoms, but in some cases there may be tingling, numbness and tenderness that radiates to the legs and arms.

Spinal stenosis, which mostly affects adults 50 and older, is a condition in which the space in the spinal column begins to narrow. For most people, stenosis comes as a result of arthritis. It has no cure, but various treatments and exercises can be done to keep pain at bay.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain, tingling and numbness that often radiates to your legs, arms and torso.

Spinal tumors are abnormal growths that occur on the spinal cord, bones, or nerves. Although rare, spinal tumors can occur as primary tumors (arising in the spinal cord) or secondary tumors (metastasizing to the spine from other regions of the body that are affected by cancer). In addition, doctors classify spinal tumors as Vertebral Column Tumors (affecting the vertebrae), Intramedullary Tumors (affecting the spinal cord), or Intradural-Extramedullary Tumors (affecting the meninges).

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Weight loss, nausea, fevers, dizziness, headaches, and vomiting
  • Severe pain at the site of the tumor
  • Neurological symptoms, like tingling or loss of balance and sensation

Spondylolisthesis pronounced (spon-dee-low-lye-sis-thesis) is a common injury that occurs as a result of stress or fracture in one of the bones that make up the spinal column. It’s a common cause of back pain in children, adolescents and athletes who participate in sports like football and gymnastics, where there is repeated stress and trauma on the back.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Acute episodes of back and leg pain.

A Torn ACL is a common form of knee injury that affects both athletes and active people in general. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, one of the four main ligaments that connects the femur (or thighbone) to the tibia (or shinbone). ACL tears can be classed as complete (a clean rip all the way through the ligament) or incomplete (a partial tear).

Common Symptoms Include:

  • A telltale pop or snapping sensation at the time of the injury
  • Local swelling or warmth as the knee fills up with blood or fluid accumulates beneath the surface
  • Instability of the joint that makes you feel as though your knee could give out at any moment

A torn MCL occurs when the medial collateral ligament that keeps your inner knee stable suffers an injury. Oftentimes, this occurs when an athlete (such as a football player or skier) changes directions too quickly or lands incorrectly after attempting a jump. Because the medial collateral ligament has a good blood supply, it tends to heal more easily than ACL injuries.

Common symptoms include:

  • A popping sound or sensation at the time of injury
  • Pain and swelling on the inside of the knee
  • Difficulty walking or feeling as though the knee is about to give out

Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons that support your elbow and allow for the extension of the wrist become inflamed. This condition affects individualslike plumbers, painters, and carpenterswho rely on their hands during the course of their everyday work life.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Elbow or wrist pain and stiffness
  • Loss of hand grip strength
  • Pain while extending the elbow or rotating the arm

A Torn Meniscus occurs when you rip the cartilage that forms a protective barrier between your tibia (shinbone) and femur (thighbone). This form of knee injury can occur as a result of aging or overuse. However, more commonly, meniscal tears occur from sports that involve high-impact collisions (e.g. rugby), quick footwork (e.g. skiing), or frequent squatting (e.g. weightlifting).

Common Symptoms Include:

  • A popping or snapping noise at the time of the injury
  • Pain and swelling around the front and right/left sides of the knee
  • Difficulty straightening the leg

Trochanteric Bursitis occurs when the trochanteric bursae, a set of fluid-filled sacs that cushion your hip bone, suffers inflammation or injury. Your trochanteric bursae sit between the juncture where the trochanter of your upper thigh bone meets your iliotibial band. When these bursae become irritated, lateral hip pain often signals the presence of bursitis.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Burning pain in the side of the hip, that radiates into the thigh or buttocks
  • Difficulty changing positions, such as when moving from sitting to standing
  • Swelling, redness, hip inflammation, and more rarely, fever

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