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What does your diagnosis mean?

Understand your diagnosis...

Common Diagnoses

  • Degenerative disc disease - Over time, discs lose water content, causing them to look "degenerated" on MRI scans. If enough water content is lost, the discs lose their height, a finding seen on regular x-rays. Some patients are more susceptible to this process than others and this is probably genetically related. Disc degeneration is not necessarily a painful process, and the presence of degenerated discs has been found in people as young as 10 years old.

  • Herniated disc - Discs are structured like jelly donuts with an outer tough layer and an inner gel core. Discs function as shock absorbers between the spinal bones. Occasionally, discs will herniate, meaning the gel core squeezes through the outer layer. If the herniated part of the disc contacts a spinal nerve, patients may feel pain into the leg, or "sciatica."  Herniated discs often cause pain, but over time, most herniated discs shrink significantly in size and the associated pain is relieved. 

  • Spinal stenosis - Bones protect the spinal nerves within a bony canal that runs the entire length of the spine. This bony canal is lined by joints, ligaments and discs. Over time, the joints, ligaments and discs may thicken and cause narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing is called spinal stenosis. Patients with spinal stenosis have symptoms of leg pain, heaviness or numbness that worsens during walking and is relieved with stooping forward or sitting. Spinal stenosis is usually seen in patients ages 60 and older. 

  • Tennis elbow - Many patients complain of pain over the outside of the elbow. The pain often interferes with forceful grasping, typing or computer work. The problem is due to swelling and inflammation of the tendons that attach to the bone of the outer elbow. Although this condition is common in tennis players, it is not necessary to play tennis to develop this condition.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome - Many patients complain of hand tingling and numbness. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a source of such symptoms resulting from irritation or compression of the median nerve in the wrist. No one is exactly sure why this condition occurs, but some people are more susceptible including patients that perform forceful gripping, use vibrating hand tools, or people who keyboard frequently. The symptoms are often worse at night and are relieved by shaking the wrist. Numbness is commonly noted over the thumb, index and middle fingers.

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