National Neuroscience Institute

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Spine and Spinal Disorders

Contributed by Dept of Neurosurgery


The spinal column is responsible for transmission of body weight from the head to the pelvis and protection of the spinal cord. The spinal column consists of bony vertebral bodies connected together by cartilage-like structures (discs) and ligaments (Figure 1).

The spine is a mobile structure and its mobility depends on integrity of these structures. Variety of diseases can affect the spine and results in functional failure producing variety of symptoms and signs.

Degenerative disease of the spine (spondylosis)

The spine is subjected to wear and tear like all joints in the body, with resultant changes in the structure. Degeneration of the disc may cause it to bulge and compress spinal cord or nerves. This will produce pain in the neck, back, arm or leg, even numbness or weakness. See Figures 2 and 3. These degenerative disorders are diagnosed through physical examination and confirmed by imaging studies. See Figure 4 (MRI). 

Tumours of the spine

This may include tumours of the spinal column or the spinal cord. Tumours may be primary (originating from the spine) or more commonly spread from other sites (such as prostate, lung and breast). They produce a variety of symptoms, like back/leg pain, neurological symptoms (weakness, numbness, unsteady gait). Treatment is dependent on the patient’s condition, extent of tumour and severity of symptoms.

Surgical decompression to relieve spinal cord or nerve pressure may be needed to obtain relief from symptoms. Additional procedure may be needed to stabilize the spine. Further treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be necessary.

Spinal trauma

Injuries to the spine are common in road traffic accidents, falls from height and diving injuries. Spine fractures (Figure 7) can cause pain or neurological deficits. Surgery is needed in cases where the spine is rendered unstable or when there is a blood clot or prolapsed disc causing acute cord compression. Minimally invasive procedures (vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty) can be performed for pain relief in some fractures of the spine.

Treatment Options

Treatment in most cases consists of conservative methods such as rest, medications and physiotherapy. Intervention is indicated for severe symptoms or failure to respond to therapy. One option is nerve or facet block techniques (with injection of steroids or radiofrequency lesions) which will help reduce or eliminate the pain. The final option is surgical treatment.

NNI spine and spinal disorders service

We provide complete care for all aspects of spinal disorders – imaging studies, nerve conduction studies, full neurological consultations, operations by experienced spinal neurosurgeons, intra-operative microscope and intra-operative spinal monitoring. We also have nurse clinicians whose role is to facilitate all areas of pre and post operative care.

Useful websites

How to make an appointment?

To make an appointment for consultation at our Neuroscience Specialist Outpatient Clinics (NSOC), please call our Appointment Centre at Tel (65) 6357 7095. Please note that consultation at the Neuroscience Clinics is by appointment only.

NSOC operating hours

Monday to Wednesday and Friday 8.00am to 5.30pm
Thursday 8.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays Closed

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