Spine Conditions

Spine conditions refer to a variety of disorders affecting the spine. These conditions can range in severity and may affect different parts of the spine, including vertebrae, bones, discs, and nerves.

Are your spine symptoms affecting your quality of life? Consult our neurosurgeon for an accurate diagnosis & personalised treatment plan.

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Dr Keith Goh

What Are Spine Conditions

Spine conditions encompass a range of disorders affecting the spine, a structure in the human body that enables movement and protects the spinal cord. These conditions vary in severity and nature, impacting the vertebrae, bone, discs, nerves, and other structures within and around the spinal column.

The spine’s complex anatomy means that a wide array of issues can arise, including acute injuries like fractures and chronic conditions like degenerative diseases.

Types of Spine Conditions

Spine conditions can be categorised by the affected region of the spinal column, with each region presenting distinct issues and requiring specific management approaches.

  • Cervical Spine Conditions: This category includes conditions affecting the neck region of the spine. Common issues involve nerve impingement, neck and radicular arm pain, intervertebral disc herniation, spinal stenosis, cervical spondylosis, multi-level degenerative spine, cervical myelopathy, Chiari malformation, syrinx, and tumours.
  • Lumbar Spine Conditions: These conditions target the lower back. Chronic back pain and sciatica, intervertebral disc bulge and herniation, spinal stenosis, spinal instability and spondylolisthesis, degenerative spine, lumbar spondylosis, tumours, and congenital malformations are typical problems.
  • Thoracic Spine Conditions: This area involves the upper and mid-back. Conditions here primarily include tumours and syringomyelia.

Causes of
Spine Conditions

Spine conditions can arise from a variety of factors, reflecting the complexity of the spine’s structure and functions.

  • Trauma: Acute injuries such as fractures, whiplash, or acute prolapsed intervertebral discs often result from accidents or physical impacts.
  • Degenerative Changes: Ageing can lead to conditions like cervical spondylosis, disc prolapse, lumbar spondylosis, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis, where the various structures gradually wear down.
  • Congenital Predisposition: Some individuals are born with spinal malformations that can lead to complications later in life.
  • Tumours: These can occur within any part of the spinal column, affecting neurological function and spinal integrity.

Symptoms and Signs

The manifestation of spine conditions varies widely, depending on the specific condition and the spine area affected.The manifestation of spine conditions varies widely, depending on the specific condition and the spine area affected.

  • Pain: This is a common symptom, which may be localised or radiate to other body parts, such as arms or legs, in conditions like radicular pain or sciatica.
  • Numbness or Weakness: Nerve impingement or compression can lead to numbness, tingling, or weakness, often felt in the arms or legs.
  • Reduced Flexibility: Conditions like spinal stenosis or spondylosis can limit the spine’s range of motion.
  • Reduced walking distance: Nerve impingement can affect the legs and impair walking abilities.

In more severe cases, such as with tumours or myelopathy, individuals may experience more serious neurological deficits. These can include:

  • Coordination Problems: Difficulty in maintaining balance or coordinating movements.
  • Gait Disturbances: Challenges with walking or changes in walking patterns.
  • Muscle Weakness: Diminished strength in muscles, possibly affecting mobility.
  • Autonomic Symptoms: Changes in bladder or bowel function.
  • Paralysis: In extreme cases, symptoms can escalate to paralysis.


Diagnosis of spine conditions typically involves the following steps:

  • Clinical Evaluation: A thorough assessment of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination.
  • Imaging Tests: Techniques such as XRays, CT and MRI scans can help visualise the spine’s structure, helping to identify issues like herniated discs, stenosis, or tumours.
  • Neurophysiology: Tests like nerve conduction studies and electromyography provide insights into nerve and muscle function, aiding in diagnosing conditions affecting nerve health.

Treatment Methods

The treatment of spine conditions involves various surgical options, each tailored to address specific issues.

  • Decompression Laminectomy: This surgery is performed to alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves, commonly indicated for spinal stenosis. It involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone to create more space.
  • Microdiscectomy: Aimed at herniated discs, this procedure removes the portion of the disc pressing against a nerve, intended to address pain and nerve irritation.
  • Minimally Invasive Discectomy: A less invasive approach to disc removal, causing less damage to surrounding tissues and potentially offering quicker recovery.
  • Nucleoplasty This technique decompresses the disc by shrinking the disc nucleus, often used in cases of mild disc herniation and sciatica.
  • Nerve Block and Facet Joint Injections: These are used for pain management, often delivering a combination of an anaesthetic and steroid directly to the affected area. Nerve block injections target specific nerves, while facet joint injections target the joints for pain relief.
  • Disc Replacement Arthroplasty Surgery: This procedure involves replacing a damaged spinal disc with an artificial one, aiming to restore the spine’s mobility and alleviate pain.
  • Spinal Fusion Internal Fixation: Fusing two or more vertebrae, this surgery stabilises the spine and is often used in cases of severe spinal instability.
  • Laminoplasty: Performed to create more space for the spinal cord and nerves, this surgery involves reshaping or repositioning the spinal bones.
  • Tumour Resections: This involves the microsurgical removal of spinal tumours, which can help relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves and prevent further complications.
  • Repair and Reconstruction of Malformations: Addressing congenital spinal malformations, this approach involves surgically correcting abnormal structures to improve function and reduce symptoms.
  • Vertebroplasty: This is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat spinal fractures, especially when there is Osteoporosis. It involves injecting bone cement into the fractured vertebra.

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Are Your Symptoms Affecting Your Quality Of Life?

Dr. Keith Goh






With more than 20 years of experience in the field of Neurosurgery, Dr Keith Goh’s subspecialty includes treatment of brain and spinal cord tumours and pediatric neurosurgery.

He is the Medical Director of International Neuro Associates, which is based at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, and provides specialist neurological services to all the hospitals within the Parkway Pantai hospital group. He also was Honorary Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the Prince of Wales Hospital of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

  • Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery — National University of Singapore
  • Neurosurgical Residency at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Advanced specialty training in paediatric neurosurgery at the Beth Israel Institute of Neurology & Neurosurgery in New York

His bibliography includes 40 original articles, 11 book chapters, and 104 abstracts and lectures on his various research interests, such as brain tumours, spinal cord tumours, head trauma, conjoined twins and congenital malformations in children.


Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre,
#09-10, 3 Mount Elizabeth
Singapore 228510

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Happens If Spine Conditions Are Left Untreated?

    Untreated spine conditions may lead to progression in symptoms and potentially more severe health issues. Timely assessment and management by a neurosurgeon can prevent complications and improve outcomes.

    Can Exercise Help Treat Spine Conditions?

    Certain exercises can strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and improve flexibility. Low-impact aerobic activities like walking or swimming, combined with core strengthening exercises and gentle stretching may be beneficial in managing spine conditions. The specific exercises are based on the individual’s condition and should be tailored to each patient’s needs.

    Can a Good Diet Help Treat Spine Conditions?

    A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients to nourish the nerves and bone can support spinal health. While diet alone may not treat spine conditions, it can complement medical treatments by promoting overall health and aiding in recovery.

    How Do I Know If My Spine Condition Warrants Medical Attention?

    Signs that a spine condition requires medical attention include persistent pain, numbness, weakness, or changes in mobility. A neurosurgeon can provide a comprehensive evaluation and determine the appropriate course of action for your specific condition.