Spinal Conditions and Treatment
Back pain affects millions of people and is one of the top reasons cited for doctor visits each year. Whether you are affected by conditions such as lower back pain or problems that may require major surgery and physical therapy, All-Star Orthopaedics can help. We focus on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the spine, back, and neck. Headed by renowned spine surgeon Stephen J. Timon, MD, our spinal center consists of a team of physicians, physical therapists, and rehabilitation experts dedicated to helping you reduce pain, restore function and mobility, and start living the active lifestyle to which you are accustomed.
- Common Spinal Conditions
- Orthopaedic Surgeon vs. Neurosurgeon
- After Spinal Surgery
- Spinal Surgery Cost
What Are Common Spinal Conditions?
Conditions affecting the spine are typically caused by disease or injury. Our team is committed to finding the source of your pain to determine the most effective treatment for improving the issue with long-term success. For details about some of the most common spinal conditions treated at our spinal center, read through the sections below.
- Lower Back Pain
- Cervical Fracture
- Pinched Nerve
- Problems with Neck Discs
- Fracture of the Thoracic & Lumbar Spine
- Kyphosis (Curvature of the Spine)
- Neck Sprain
- Sciatica (Pain Radiating from the Back Down to the Buttocks and Leg)
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common problems treated by orthopaedic doctors. It can be caused by a number of factors, including the natural effects of aging, injuries and fractures, protruding disc, osteoporosis, and sprains/strains in the lower back. Although the effects of age, decreased bone mass, and reduced muscle strength cannot be avoided, lower back pain can be lessened with regular exercise to keep supporting back muscles flexible and strong; taking care when lifting and moving; maintaining proper body weight; the avoidance of smoking; and exercising proper posture. For those with severe and chronic pain in the lower back, Dr. Timon can evaluate you and come up with a treatment plan that may improve the condition.
A fracture or break in the cervical vertebrae of the neck is what’s known as a broken neck. They typically result from a high-energy trauma and can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, and even death. The severity of the injury will determine treatment; however, some cases can be treated with a cervical brace worn until the bone heals. Traction, surgery and internal fixation, a rigid cast, or a combination of these may be necessary for more severe cases.
A common occurrence in car accidents, whiplash is often caused by the sudden movement of the head and neck upon impact with a foreign object. Symptoms of whiplash usually fade fairly quickly; however, some people can develop chronic conditions stemming from whiplash that can cause severe pain, and even disability. Symptoms include: stiffness and pain in the neck; pain in the lower back; dizziness; ringing in the ears; blurred vision; shoulder pain; headaches; fatigue; problems with memory and concentration. Treatment for whiplash will depend on the severity. Often, immobilization with a cervical (soft) collar is utilized. Sometimes, icing the area in the first 24 hours after whiplash has occurred, followed by gentle movement, will help. Physical therapy, massage, heat, ice, exercises, pain relievers, and other remedies have all proven effective in treating some patients with whiplash. Chronic symptoms of whiplash may require surgery.
A pinched nerve in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) is caused by an injury near the nerve root in one of the vertebrae or cervical vertebra. The condition can lead to pain, numbness, and/or weakness in the upper extremities, including the wrist and hand. Often caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease, cervical radiculopathy can be treated with rest, medication, and/or physical therapy. Over a period of about 6 to 12 weeks, pain should be reduced. However, if pain is not relieved after this time, surgery may be the best option to relieve pain and restore function and movement to affected areas of the body. You should always contact a doctor if you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms in order to rule out more severe causes.
Problems with Neck Discs
Problems with Neck Discs
Arthritis of the neck (cervical spondylosis) may develop as we get older, resulting from bony spurs and conditions affecting neck discs and ligaments which cause neck pain. Injuries and narrowing of the spinal canal may also lead to pain in the neck. This pain and discomfort can range from mild to severe to debilitating. Headaches, neck pain, numbness in the upper extremities, weakness in the legs, muscle spasms, and a grinding or popping sensation in the neck are all signs of cervical spondylosis. Treatment can include rest, medication, physical therapy, and/or surgery to remove bone spurs or disc material.
Fracture of the Thoracic & Lumbar Spine
A herniated disc, often described as a “slipped” or “ruptured” disc in the neck or lower back, can cause significant pain in the neck, arm, leg, or lower back. Discs are located between the vertebrae and allow the back to bend or flex, and when they become herniated, they put pressure on the nerves causing pain, numbness, and/or weakness. These discs can become weakened and more susceptible to becoming herniated because of improper lifting of heavy objects, sudden pressure, repetitive strenuous activity, excess body weight, and/or smoking. Symptoms can affect both the back and neck, and include weakness in the arm or leg, a tingling sensation, loss of bladder or bowel control, and burning sensations in the arm, neck or shoulders. Treatment will depend on severity of symptoms; however, many patients can recover with bed rest and over-the-counter pain medications. Cold compresses, anti-inflammatory medications, heat applications, and other conservative treatment methods have also proven effective. For more severe cases, epidural injections, physical therapy, and surgery may be necessary.
Kyphosis (Curvature of the Spine)
Kyphosis, or curvature of the spine, has many causes, and there are also a variety of types. It is typically characterized by an exaggerated rounding to the back. The condition can become very painful and result in severe deformity. Dr. Timon can examine you to determine if you are suffering from Postural, Scheuermann’s, or congenital kyphosis. With Postural Kyphosis, posture may improve over time and exercise routines can help with back pain; however, treatment will depend on the causes of the condition. Scheuermann’s Kyphosis can often be treated with exercise and anti-inflammatory medications, and possibly a brace for young children who have yet to reach skeletal maturity. In cases of extreme spinal curvature, surgery can not only improve deformity but also alleviate back pain.
A neck sprain can often result from a car accident or a hard fall which stretches or tears ligaments in the neck. Symptoms include neck pain, muscle spasms in the shoulders, headache in the back of the head, sore throat, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, numbness in the arm or hand, problems with range of motion, and weakness or tingling in the arms. Neck sprains usually heal themselves over time and with the proper treatment. A soft cervical collar may be necessary for a temporary period of time to relieve pressure on the neck. Aspirin or ibuprofen can reduce pain and swelling, and ice packs can also be beneficial to reduce discomfort and inflammation. More severe cases of neck sprain will typically take longer to heal.
Sciatica (Pain Radiating from the Back Down to the Buttocks and Leg)
Sciatica is a protruding disc in the lower spinal column which presses against the sciatic nerve, often feeling like a bad, chronic leg cramp. Symptoms include weakness, tingling, and numbness. The condition often affects those between 30 and 50 years old, and can be caused by the natural progression of aging and general wear and tear. More than three quarters of people who develop sciatica improve and recover without the need for surgery. Rest and time will typically let the condition heal itself, and some medications can also help. Physical therapy or epidural injections can also be used to treat sciatica, and surgery may be necessary for disabling leg pain that is chronic for more than three months. In rare cases of sciatica, the disc may hit certain nerves that cause you lose control of bowel and bladder functions. Numbness or tingling in the groin or genital region may accompany this. If this occurs, emergency surgery is necessary and you should contact a doctor immediately.
Orthopaedic Surgeon vs. Neurosurgeon for Spinal Surgery
Both orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons receive training in spinal surgery and can specialize in spine conditions. The main difference between the two is the focus of their training. Neurosurgeons, for example, specialize in the nervous system, which includes the diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions. Orthopaedic surgeons are focused on musculoskeletal conditions and can further specialize in treating the neck, back, and spine. They are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions, while also following patients through the rehabilitation process. Both orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons can be well-qualified to diagnose and treat spinal conditions, which is why you should ultimately look at each surgeon’s credentials to determine which may be more qualified for your surgery.
What Can I Expect After Spinal Surgery?
Spinal surgery is typically the final method of treating many conditions. Recovery will depend on the extent of the condition as well as the type of surgery. In addition, everyone heals and recovers at their own rate. When not performed as an outpatient procedure, patients can typically return home within a few days after their spinal surgery. Pain medication may be needed to help minimize your discomfort, and physical therapy is often recommended to help restore proper function. More personalized details about your recovery will be discussed with you prior to surgery to help you plan accordingly.
How Much Does Spinal Surgery Cost?
The cost of treating a spinal condition will be unique to the individual and the specifics of their treatment plan. Our surgeons always recommend the most conservative treatments that can still provide optimal results. If these methods do not improve the condition, a more invasive option like surgery may be necessary, which can ultimately cost more. To help you understand what you can expect to pay, our team can explain the fees associated with your potential treatment options, and whether you are eligible for coverage from your insurance provider. If you would like to divide your total cost into smaller, more manageable payments, we can also help you get started with orthopaedic surgery financing.
Please contact All-Star Orthopaedics or visit spineuniverse.com for more information on spinal conditions and treatments.