SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Twisted spine. Coloured frontal X-ray of part of the spine of a 58-year-old with osteoarthritis and scoliosis (sideways twisting of the spine). The five lumbar vertebrae (spinal bones) of the lower back are shown here, ascending from the pelvis (bottom). Osteoarthritis is inflammation of the joints, here affecting the spinal joints. Bony growths called osteophytes have formed where the vertebrae are twisting into each other. One of these is seen on the left side of the spine at upper left, forming a characteristic "parrot's beak" shape. In severe cases, surgery can be used to improve the patient's mobility.
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