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How do other illnesses affect spinal pain?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Some illnesses, like arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, infections, and cancer, can cause spinal or back pain. Arthritis can cause the cartilage that cushions the vertebrae, which are the bones in the spine, to wear away or the joints in the spine to become rigid, causing stiffness and pain. Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones, and it can lead to painful fractures in the vertebrae. Scoliosis causes the spine to curve to one side in an unnatural way and can be painful in some cases. In people with spondylolisthesis, a vertebra in the lower spine slips out of place, causing pain. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the part of the spine that surrounds the spinal cord, which can put painful pressure on the spinal nerves. Osteomyelitis is an infection in the vertebrae, and diskitis is an infection in the spinal disks; though uncommon, both types of infection can be painful. In rare cases, cancerous tumors can appear in the spine or spread to the spine from cancer elsewhere in the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.