Sciatica

Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. It controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg, and the sole of your foot. When you have sciatica, you have pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling. It can start in the lower back and extend down your leg to your calf, foot, or even your toes. It’s usually on only one side of your body.

Causes of sciatica include

  • A ruptured intervertebral disk
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerve, called spinal stenosis
  • An injury such as a pelvic fracture.

In many cases no cause can be found.

Sometimes sciatica goes away on its own. Treatment, if needed, depends on the cause of the problem. It may include exercises, medicines, and surgery.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis causes a sideways curve of your backbone, or spine. These curves are often S- or C-shaped. Scoliosis is most common in late childhood and the early teens, when children grow fast. Girls are more likely to have it than boys. It can run in families. Symptoms include leaning to one side and having uneven shoulders and hips.

Doctors use your medical and family history, a physical exam, and imaging tests to diagnose scoliosis. Treatment depends on your age, how much more you’re likely to grow, how much curving there is, and whether the curve is temporary or permanent. People with mild scoliosis might only need checkups to see if the curve is getting worse. Others might need to wear a brace or have surgery.

Shoulder Injuries and Disorders

Your shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). Your shoulders are the most movable joints in your body. They can also be unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. To remain in a stable or normal position, the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Because the shoulder can be unstable, it is the site of many common problems. They include sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulder, fractures and arthritis.

Usually shoulder problems are treated with RICE. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Other treatments include exercise, medicines to reduce pain and swelling, and surgery if other treatments don’t work.

Sodium

Also called: Salt

Table salt is made up of the elements sodium and chlorine – the technical name for salt is sodium chloride. Your body needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body. Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can’t get rid it, sodium builds up in your blood. This can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other health problems.

Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in salt and sodium. Doctors recommend you eat less than 2.4 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.

Sore Throat

Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx (also called the voice box). The technical name for the throat is pharynx.

You can have a sore throat for many reasons. Often, colds and flu cause sore throats. Other causes can include:

  • Allergies
  • Mononucleosis
  • Smoking
  • Strep throat
  • Tonsillitis – an infection in the tonsils

Treatment depends on the cause. Sucking on lozenges, drinking lots of liquids, and gargling may ease the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help, but children should not take aspirin.

Spinal Stenosis

Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and allows you to stand and bend. Spinal stenosis causes narrowing in your spine. The narrowing puts pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain.

Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal are also at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can cause spinal stenosis, too. Symptoms might appear gradually or not at all. They include

  • Pain in your neck or back
  • Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in your arms or legs
  • Pain going down the leg
  • Foot problems

Doctors diagnose spinal stenosis with a physical exam and imaging tests. Treatments include medications, physical therapy, braces, and surgery.

Spine Injuries and Disorders

Your backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bone discs called vertebrae. The vertebrae protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand and bend. A number of problems can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue. They include

  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Tumors
  • Conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis and scoliosis
  • Bone changes that come with age, such as spinal stenosis and herniated disks

Spinal diseases often cause pain when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. They can also limit movement. Treatments differ by disease, but sometimes they include back braces and surgery.

Sprains and Strains

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.

At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.

Steroids

Also called: Corticosteroids, Glucocorticoids

You may have heard of anabolic steroids, which can have harmful effects. But there’s another type of steroid – sometimes called a corticosteroid – that treats a variety of problems. These steroids are similar to hormones that your adrenal glands make to fight stress associated with illnesses and injuries. They reduce inflammation and affect the immune system.

You may need to take corticosteroids to treat

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis
  • Skin conditions such as eczema and rashes
  • Some kinds of cancer

Steroids are strong medicines, and they can have side effects, including weakened bones and cataracts. Because of this, you usually take them for as short a time as possible.

Suicide

Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States. People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems. Often it’s related to serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.

People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men. But women and teens report more suicide attempts. If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously. Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available 24/7.

Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.