The spine is the main support for the human body and provides protection for the spinal cord. It is comprised of 33 vertebrae that permit you to maintain an upright position as well as bend. There are three regions of the spine: the cervical or neck area, the thoracic or chest area and the lumbar or lower back area. The sacral and coccyx areas make up the bottom of the spine.
About 80% of adults will suffer significant back pain at some time in their lives due to an injury at work, at home or at play.Back pain and medical spine problems can be caused by:
- Mechanical difficulties when you move your spine in a specific manner
- Injuries such as a sprain or fracture
- Conditions such as arthritis or scoliosis
- Infections or tumors
Doctors generally diagnose spine problems by:
- Physical examination
- Diagnostic tests (such as x-rays, bone scan, CAT scan, MRI, arthroscopy, and biopsy)
- Medical History
The most common type of arthritis of the spine is osteoarthritis. In this disease, the cartilage in the joints of the spine gradually wears away with use and time. Treatments for osteoarthritis include:
- Medication to reduce pain, such as aspirin and acetaminophen
- Medication to reduce swelling and inflammation, such as ibuprofen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Exercises to improve flexibility and strength
- Maintaining healthy bodyweight
Spine surgery can relieve pain and correct injury to the nerves in the back when non-invasive methods are ineffective or inappropriate. Surgery may be performed to remove discs; to treat diseases and disorders such as Arnold Chiari-Malformation, syringomyelia and spinal stenosis; and to correct spinal fractures, injuries, cysts, tumors, herniated cords and other painful or harmful conditions.
Discectomy – Performed to correct a herniated disc, the most common cause of lower back pain. The soft material in the disc is removed to restore proper shape and relieve pressure on the nerve.
Laminectomy and Laminotomy – Removal of the lamina (small bony plate on each vertebra) to relieve pressure on the nerve that causes back pain in patients suffering from stenosis.
Spinal Fusion - Bone is grafted onto the spine that grows and heals to provide strength and stabilization following injury or disease.
Recent advances in medical technology have made possible minimally invasive spinal surgery, in which the entire procedure is performed through small incisions with the aid of an endoscope (a thin instrument with a tiny camera on the tip). Minimally invasive surgery offers a number of benefits over traditional surgery, including less post-operative discomfort, smaller scars and a shorter recovery time. This type of surgery is not appropriate for all conditions, but may be performed to treat scoliosis and herniated discs and to aid in spinal fusion.
To learn more about our Orthopedic Services, please contact us at 805-495-3687 today to schedule an appointment.