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The spinal column provides the main support for your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend, and twist, while protecting the spinal cord from injury. Strong muscles and bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves make up a healthy spine which allows you to go about your daily tasks. Yet, any of these structures affected by strain, injury, or disease can cause pain. 

Conditions which can affect the spine and cause pain or disability are broadly grouped into degenerative, traumatic injury, deformity and tumours. We will go through some of the commoner conditions and their treatment options in the next section:

Search for a spinal specialist

You'll be seen by one of our world-class spinal surgeons with expert training in their sub-specialty. Pioneering the latest surgical procedures, they offer patients the very highest levels of care. 

Spinal conditions

Lower back pain

The lumbar spine is the lower back. It is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae and has disc between these bones. Sometimes these discs can wear out and and press on the spinal cord or nerves which causes pain .

Slipped disc

A 'slipped' disc occurs when the disc starts to degenerate, causing the disc to bulge backwards and even split. This can press on the spinal cord or nerves, causing pain.

Spinal stenosis

Your spinal canal can become too narrow, compressing the nerves inside. This is known as spinal stenosis.

Neck pain

Neck pain can happen if you've strained a muscle or sat or slept in an awkward position. Bad posture, anxiety and stress can also lead to neck pain.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the spine and other areas. It is more common in men, and mostly begins during your teens or early adulthood.


Arachnoiditis is the inflammation of the arachnoid lining — one of three linings to protect the brain and spinal cord.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is damage to the bundle of nerves below the end of the spinal cord known as the cauda equina. Symptoms include lower back pain which radiates down the leg, numbness and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Spinal injuries

Spinal cord injury

With a spinal cord injury, damage to nerve cells (neurons) and fibres means they are unable to carry signals from the brain beyond the point of injury. This can result in a loss of sensory and muscle control.

Spinal fractures

Spinal fractures can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and even lead to life changing circumstances. They don’t always involve trauma and can result from less common but serious conditions such as infection and cancer or even osteoporosis.

Infections of the Spine

Spinal infections can occur after surgery or spontaneously in individuals at risk of infection. Risk factors include poor nutrition, cancer, diabetes, immunosuppressive conditions or high BMI. Prolonged surgery or repeat operations can also cause infections.

Learn more about our Children and Adolescent's Scoliosis Service

Find out more about scoliosis and how we can treat it using MAGEC® growing-rods to reduce the number of surgeries required.


More about Scoliosis in adults

More about Scoliosis in children

Childhood spinal conditions:

Back pain in children and teens

Children and teens are more flexible than adults, so they tend not to experience much back pain. If it does happen, it could be a sign of something more serious, so it's worth getting it checked out.

HyperKyphosis in children

If your child has Kyphosis, you may be able to identify this from a curvature of their spine when viewed from the side. Scoliosis is a curvature seen from the front. It is possible for both conditions to be present in the same child.

Spina bifida

Spina bifida happens when a baby's spine doesn't develop properly in the womb, leaving a gap in their spine. There isn't a precise reason behind it but it can cause bowel and bladder problems in later life.

Tumours of the spine


In general, tumours of the spine cause problems when they compress nerves or the spinal cord itself. This may result in paralysis and loss of bowel or bladder control. The tumour may destroy the bone and cause spinal fractures leading to back pain.
Consultant in theatres

Types of spinal surgery

Open surgery is the traditional type of surgery where an incision is made using a scalpel. These incisions can range from 5 to 10cm in length to much longer depending on what the surgery is and which part of the body the surgeon wishes to gain access to.

Recently, minimally invasive surgery is becoming more widely used because of the perceived advantages of less disruption to body tissues and reduced blood loss, in addition to quicker recovery.

This doesn’t mean open surgery is obsolete. Some type of surgeries still require access to larger areas for insertion of implants. Your consultant will help you decide which approach is best for you and your circumstances.
LOC Cancer MDT

Our non surgical options

The sciatic nerve runs from your hip to your feet. Irritation of this nerve is commonly caused by a slipped disc, but also by a narrowing of the spinal canal. This is often described as ‘sciatica’. This can cause pain or numbness which usually radiates below the knee.  

An injection at the base of the spine into the space between the nerves and inner walls of the spinal canal (epidural space) may help relieve the symptoms. This is called a caudal epidural injection. A nerve root injection which has the same purpose but is given in a different manner can be used as well. A nerve root injection can be done in the neck as well for ‘pinched’ nerves causing arm pain.

Spinal facilities

We offer the latest spinal diagnostics and procedures at convenient locations across the UK.

Request a spinal appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced spinal consultants. We can also make imaging and outpatient physiotherapy appointments for you.

020 7079 4344
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