Spinal disorders are a group of conditions that involve a loss of normal structure and function in the spine. These common disorders are associated with the normal effects of aging, but also may be caused by infection, tumors, muscle strains, or arthritis. Pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots associated with spinal degeneration may be caused by disc displacement or herniation; spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal; or osteoarthritis, cartilage breakdown at spinal joints.
Spinal disorders and especially back and neck pain affect more people and have greater impact on work capacity and health-care costs than any other musculoskeletal condition. One of the difficulties in reducing the burden of spinal disorders is the wide and heterogeneous range of specific diseases and non-specific musculoskeletal disorders that can involve the spinal column, most of which manifest as pain. Despite, or perhaps because of its impact, spinal disorders remain one of the most controversial and difficult conditions for clinicians, patients and policymakers to manage.