SPINE CONDITIONS

Spine Solutions offices are dedicated to patient care and to helping you feel better today. We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery and the treatment of degenerative spine, spinal deformity, trauma, tumor, as well as cervical disc replacement and lumbar disc replacement. Please select from the tabs below to read about different types of spine and back conditions and treatment options available.

SPINE CONDITIONS

Spine Solutions offices are dedicated to patient care and to helping you feel better today. We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery and the treatment of degenerative spine, spinal deformity, trauma, tumor, as well as cervical disc replacement and lumbar disc replacement. Please select from the tabs below to read about different types of spine and back conditions and treatment options available.

Common Spine Problems

WHAT IS BULGING DISC AND WHAT CAUSES IT?

A bulging disc is a spinal disc that projects out of its normal space. Bulging intervertebral discs may cause distress and incapacity in parts of the body if the disc interferes with a nerve root.

A bulging disc occurs when there is weakness in the fibrous material (annulus fibrosus) that encompases the soft central portion (nucleus pulposus). This fibrous material weakens naturally as a person ages. Other things that can contribute to a bulging disc include repetitive movements, strenuous lifting, twisting of the body, bone spurs (osteophytes) pushing against the disc, and many other degenerative conditions.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PREVENT A BULGING DISC?
A person can reduce their susceptibility to disc tearing by refraining from smoking, exercising, maintaining good posture, and preserving a healthy body weight.
IF I HAVE A BULGING DISC, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
A bulging disc can happen at any spinal segment. If it happens in the lower back, the damaged disc may cause pain to travel to the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. In the neck, it can cause pain, numbness, decreased strength and sensation, and tingling in the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. The symptoms can vary widely based on the patient’s unique case.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE A BULGING DISC?
A bulging disc diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a physical examination. This diagnosis is then confirmed with a MRI or CT scan.
HOW IS BULGING DISC TREATED?
Treatment will vary based on your specific case. The majority of bulging discs are treated without a surgical procedure. Many people can get symptomatic relief by lifting correctly, maintaining a normal body weight, and exercising regularly. If symptoms still persist, epidural steroid injections and/or physical therapy may be recommended. When this still isn’t enough, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE (SPONDYLOSIS) AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Degenerative disc disease involves the gradual degeneration of the spine’s intervertebral discs over time. This process makes the disc more susceptible to herniation. These symptoms may be due to the actual disc herniation or an osteophyte (bone spur) contacting a nerve. Degeneration of spinal disc is usually a result of normal aging in people who have a family history of spinal degeneration.
IF I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT BE PRESENT?
Symptoms usually present as pain, tingling, stiffness, numbness, or muscle weakness that develops gradually.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
If the symptoms are moderate or quickly progressing, a doctor should evaluate your case.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?
A degenerative disc disease diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a physical exam in the office. This diagnosis is then confirmed with a MRI or CT scan.
HOW IS A DEGENERATIVE DISC TREATED?
Most of the time degenerative disc disease can be managed with things like stretching exercises, Yoga classes, and low impact aerobic activities. More aggressive treatment may include physical therapy and/or epidural steroid injections. If symptoms progress or persist such that your quality of life is affected, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS A TORN DISC?
A torn disc usually refers to the tearing of the outer layer of the spinal disc called the annular tissue. The annular tissue is the tough outer shell that contains a soft gel like substance called the nucleus.
WHAT CAUSES A TORN DISC?
The most common causes of a torn disc are aging and trauma. People with a family history of torn discs may also be more susceptible.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PREVENT A TEAR?
A person can reduce their susceptibility to disc tearing by refraining from smoking, exercising, maintaining good posture, and preserving a healthy body weight.
IF I HAVE A TORN DISC, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Some people experience no noticeable difference. If symptoms do occur, they are usually in the neck or the lower back. In the neck, pain is felt near the injured disc, through the shoulder and down the arm into the hand. This may include numbness and tingling in the arm and/or hand, muscular weakness in the arm, muscle spasms, or loss of coordination.
If the torn disc is in the lower back, symptoms may be experienced at the site of injury and travel down the leg to the foot. This may include numbness, tingling, muscular weakness, muscle spasms, symptoms of sciatica (pain caused by nerve compression), and loss of coordination.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the level of pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW IS A TORN DISC TREATED?
A torn disc can be helped in many ways. Symptoms may be relieved in some people by light aerobic exercise, massage, acupuncture, or over the counter pain medications such as Advil, Aleve, or Ibuprofen. Other may require more aggressive treatment such as ice and heat, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. It is only after conservative treatment options have been exhausted that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be considered.
WHAT IS FACET JOINT DISEASE (SYNDROME) AND WHAT CAUSES IT??
Facet joints connect vertebrae above and below as shown in the diagram. Facet joint disease is a degenerative condition that is caused by wear and tear from repetitive stress over time. The pain is caused by a breakdown or thinning of the cartilage in the facet joint over time. This breakdown is contributed to by normal aging, repetitive trauma, accidents, injuries, poor posture, or work-related activities.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT FACET JOINT DISEASE?
The risk of acquiring facet joint disease may be minimized by a combination of good posture, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, and good nutrition.
IF I HAVE FACET JOINT DISEASES WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Facet joint disease symptoms typically occur irregularly, with occurrences of up to a few times per month. In the neck, a patient may experience tenderness and inflammation, decreased flexibility, pain in the neck that radiates though the neck down the arm to the hands and fingers.
If facet joint disease occurs in the lower back, a patient may experience tenderness and inflammation, decreased flexibility, pain at the effected joint that radiates through the buttocks and down the back of leg to the knee.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the frequency of occurrence and level of pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW IS A FACET JOINT DISEASE TREATED?
Facet joint disease is usually treated by a combination of over the counter pain medications such as Advil, Aleve, or ibuprofen, in addition to rest, ice and heat, physical therapy, and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation. When these initial treatments are unsuccessful a back brace may be added to the treatment regimen. It is only after these treatment options have been unsuccessful that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS FAILED BACK SURGERY AND HOW IS IT CAUSED?
Failed back surgery sometimes called failed back syndrome simply refers to a less than optimal result in a prior back surgery. Some of the causes of failed surgery include failure to fuse and/or implant, a transfer lesion to another level, recurrent spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and continued pain from a secondary pain generator.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE WHETHER I HAVE FAILED BACK SURGERY?
After a comprehensive physical examination, selective diagnostic imaging is required to localize any remaining dysfunction. MRI and CT scans confirm the suspected diagnosis and provide additional information about the nature and extent of the problem.
HOW IS A FAILED BACK SURGERY TREATED?
Because of the wide variability of what might be considered failed back surgery, the correct treatment is specific to the individual and their case. Treatment may include things like stretching exercises, physical therapy, steroid injections, and maintaining a good diet and body weight. If these treatments fail to control symptoms, a corrective minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS FORAMINAL STENOSIS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
A foraminal stenosis simply refers to a narrowing of the spaces though which nerves travel. This narrowing may compress or pinch nerves as they leave the spinal column, producing pain and disruption of important nerve functions. The normal aging process is the main cause of foraminal stenosis. Over time, the body’s discs lose their elasticity and can become bulged and/or herniated. A herniation may narrow the spaces in the spine and compress the exiting nerves. Bone spurs (also called osteophytes), arthritis, and ligament thickening may cause foraminal stenosis.
IF I HAVE FORAMINAL STENOSIS, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
As a result of the nerve being compressed, a patient might experience numbness, burning, tingling, and or pins-and-needles sensations in their extremities.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the quality and quantity of pain is affecting your daily activities.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE FORAMINAL STENOSIS?
A foraminal stenosis diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IS A FORAMINAL STENOSIS TREATED??
A foraminal stenosis is first treated with a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, relaxation, epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, and activity modifications. If symptoms cannot be controlled by these options, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS PINCHED NERVE AND HOW IS IT CAUSED?
A pinched nerve is a term that refers to nerve injuries as a result of compression, constriction, or stretching. A pinched nerve may be caused by one or a combination of any of the following factors: poor posture, osteoarthritis, bone spurs, repetitive movements, obesity, and genetic factors.
WHERE DOES A PINCHED NERVE OCCUR AND WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
A pinched nerve can occur in virtually all parts of the body. In the spinal column, a herniated disc may put pressure on a nerve root that can cause pain to travel down the back of the leg, commonly referred to as sciatica. Another common type of pinched nerve is the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist to enter the hand. Compression of this nerve may lead to pain and numbness in the hand and fingers, known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the pain from the pinched nerve is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE WHETHER I HAVE A PINCHED NERVE?
A pinched nerve diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IS A PINCHED NERVE TREATED?
The symptoms of a pinched nerve can generally be managed by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, oral corticosteroids, over the counter or prescription pain medication, steroid injections, splints to limit motion, ice and heat therapy, and physical rehabilitation. If these treatment options are unsuccessful, a minimally invasive surgical option may be recommended on a case by case basis.
WHAT IS RADICULITIS AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES?
Radiculitis refers to the compression of a nerve root as it exits the spinal column. Radiculitis can be caused by many conditions that place pressure on the spinal nerves. Some of the more common conditions include disc herniation, bone spurs (osteophytes), and thickening of surrounding ligaments. Less common conditions that cause radiculitis include spinal stenosis, damaged intervertebral discs, degeneration of the spine, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, diabetes, ruptured discs, and vertebral fractures.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT RADICULITIS?
The risk of developing radiculitis can be reduced by maintaining the health of the spine. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength.
IF I HAVE RADICULITIS, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
The symptoms of radiculitis depend of where in the spinal column the compression occurs. If it is in the lumbar region, radicular pain includes stiffness in the legs and thighs, muscle weakness, sharp constant pain that may affect standing and sitting, and may affect balance. In the neck, radicular pain includes pain in the neck, shoulder, arms and hands. It can also include muscle weakness and loss of coordination with arms and hands.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the radicular pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE RADICULITIS?
A radiculitis diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IT RADICULITIS TREATED?
Radiculitis is treated by one or a combination of the following: over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, rest, ice, heat, and physical therapy. Pain management injections may be added if symptoms persist. If symptoms still persist, then a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS RADICULOPATHY AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES?
Radiculopathy refers to chronic nerve compression and irritation that has been left untreated. Radiculopathy is commonly caused by spinal stenosis, a ruptured disc, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, disc herniation, bone spurs (osteophytes), or thickening of surrounding ligaments.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT RADICULOPATHY?
The risk of developing radiculopathy can be reduced by maintaining the health of the spine. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength.
IF I HAVE RADICULOPATHY, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
A radiculopathy diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which also reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
IF I HAVE RADICULOPATHY, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
The symptoms of radiculopathy depend on where in the spinal column the compression occurs. If it is in the lumbar region, radicular pain includes stiffness in the legs and thighs, muscle weakness, and sharp constant pain that may affect standing and sitting. In the neck, radicular pain includes pain in the neck, shoulder, arms and hands. It can also include muscle weakness and loss of coordination with arms and hands as well as problems with balance.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the radicular pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE RADICULOPATHY?
A radiculopathy diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IT RADICULOPATHY TREATED?
Radiculopathy is treated by one or a combination of the following: over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, rest, ice, heat, and physical therapy. Pain management injections can be added if symptoms persist. If symptoms still persist, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS SACROILIAC JOINT DISEASE AND WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES?
The sacroiliac joint is a joint in the low back between the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis. Sacroiliac joint disease is discomfort in this region. Some common causes of this pain may be infection of the joint, osteoarthritis, trauma, stress fracture, or inflammation.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT SACROILIAC JOINT DISEASE?
The risk of developing sacroiliac joint disease can be reduced by maintaining the health of the spine and pelvis. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength.
IF I HAVE SACROILIAC JOINT DISEASE, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Many patients will notice pain to the left or right of the lower back that may radiate to the buttocks and to the front into the groin. Other symptoms may include difficulty turning over in bed, struggling to put on shoes and socks, pain in your legs while getting in and out of the car, stiffness in the lower back when getting up after sitting for long periods.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the sacroiliac joint pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE SACROILIAC JOINT DISEASE?
A sacroiliac joint disease diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which also reveals additional information about the extent of the problem. Biopsy of a sample of tissue from the joint for testing or joint injections can also help determine if the pain starts in the joint.
HOW IT SACROILIAC JOINT DISEASE TREATED?
Sacroiliac joint disease is treated by one or a combination of the following: over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, rest, ice, heat, and physical therapy. Pain management injections can be added if symptoms persist. If symptoms still persist, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.
WHAT IS SCIATICA AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Sciatica is simply caused by sciatic nerve compression. As shown to the right, the sciatic nerve begins in the lower region of the back and runs to the backside and down the leg. Sciatic nerve pain can have many causes, including things like a herniated disc, spinal cysts, or a tumor. The most common cause of sciatic nerve pain are aging and wear and tear on spinal discs in combination with sudden changes in pressure.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT SCIATICA?
There are no specific techniques for sciatica prevention as sciatica causes are related to so many other spinal conditions. The risks can be mitigated by maintaining the health of the spine and pelvis. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength. Also, it is helpful to bend properly, lift properly, and avoid twisting of the body.
IF I HAVE SCIATICA, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I EXPERIENCE?
Sciatica symptoms include sharp constant pain on one side of the rear leg that can affect standing or walking, weakness or loss of motor function in the leg or foot, and numbness or tingling down one leg.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the amount of pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW IS SCIATICA TREATED?
Sciatica is first treated by conservative measures such as chiropractic adjustments or osteopathic manipulation. These treatments manipulate the spine to reduce the amount of separation of the surfaces in the joint resulting in an increased range of motion. Other types of conservative treatment include prescription medications and acupuncture. It is only after conservative therapy does not provide adequate relief that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be considered.
WHAT IS SPINAL STENOSIS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the open spaces within the spine, which can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. This occurs most often in the neck and lower back. Spinal stenosis is mostly attributed to the normal wear and tear changes of aging.
WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT SPINAL STENOSIS?
The risk of developing spinal stenosis can be reduced by maintaining the health of the spine. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength.
IF I HAVE SPINAL STENOSIS, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Spinal stenosis mainly takes place in the neck and lower back. Symptoms of low back stenosis include numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, loss of motor function in the legs that may worsen with bending or sitting, stiffness in legs and thighs, sharp constant pain that may affect standing or walking, and loss of bladder or bowel control.
Symptoms of neck stenosis may include pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands, muscle weakness, loss of coordination in the arms and hands, problems with balance, and numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arms, or hands.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the pain from stenosis is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE SPINAL STENOSIS?
A spinal stenosis diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which also reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IS A SPINAL STENOSIS TREATED?
Spinal stenosis can be treated by a number of things in different combinations. These things include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, exercise focused on core stability, over the counter or prescription pain medication, and direct steroid joint injections. It is only after symptoms cannot be contained by these measures that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be considered.
WHAT IS SPONDYLOLISTHESIS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Spondylolisthesis refers to the slippage of a vertebra in the spinal column either forwards or backwards. There are five major causes of spondylolisthesis which include degenerative disc diseases, bone fractures, birth abnormalities, defects in the bone, and traumatic injuries.
HOW CAN I PREVENT SPONDYLOLISTHESIS?
The risk of developing spondylolisthesis can be reduced by maintaining the health of the spine and pelvis. This can be done by maintaining a healthy body weight, not sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, using chairs with firm back support, exercising regularly, and maintaining core strength.
IF I HAVE SPONDYLOLISTHESIS, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Spondylolisthesis exists mainly in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region). In the lower back, symptoms include localized back pain that may radiate to the buttocks and thighs, muscle tightness and stiffness, tenderness in the area of the spondylolisthesis, reduced range of motion in the lower back, numbness and tingling sensations in the legs and muscular weakness if the condition is allowed to progress far enough.
In the neck, common symptoms include localized pain that may radiate to the shoulder and arm, muscle tightness and stiffness, tenderness in the area of the spondylolisthesis, reduced range of motion in the neck, numbness and tingling sensations in the arms, and muscular weakness.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the pain from spondylolisthesis is affecting your quality of life.
HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN DETERMINE IF I HAVE SPONDYLOLISTHESIS?
A spondylolisthesis diagnosis can be suspected when a physician evaluates symptoms and performs a comprehensive physical examination. This diagnosis is confirmed with a MRI or CT scan which also reveals additional information about the extent of the problem.
HOW IS A SPONDYLOLISTHESIS TREATED?
Spondylolisthesis can be managed by a number of treatment options in combination. These options include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, exercise focused on core stability, over the counter or prescription pain medication, and direct steroid joint injections. In some cases a neck or back brace may be added. It is only after symptoms cannot be contained by these measures that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be considered.
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