The Spine—the Body’s Center of Movement
Your spine is at the center of a delicately balanced system that controls all of your body’s movements. Bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves all work together to balance the weight of your body. Even minor damage to one component of your back’s structure can upset this fragile balance and make movement painful. It is not surprising, then, that back pain is second only to headache as the most common cause of pain, or that 8 out of 10 people will have a problem with back pain at some time.
Understanding Spinal Anatomy
The spinal column provides support to the body while allowing it to move freely. It also protects the spinal cord—the body’s main nerve “highway.” Twenty-four bones, or vertebrae, provide stability to the spine. Between each vertebra are discs that are firm on the outside and jelly-like on the inside. These discs serve to separate and cushion the vertebrae, giving the spine the ability to comfortably bend and twist. Extending off the spinal cord is a network of nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and the rest of the body. Pressure on any one of these sensitive nerve roots, or on the spinal cord itself, causes pain.
Your Center for Complete Spinal Care
The surgeons at The Spine Center at Southern Bone & Joint Specialists are eminently qualified to treat the full range of disorders affecting the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine in adults and children. We provide complete diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation capabilities, as well as preventive intervention. We specialize in the treatment of back and neck pain due to injury, deformity, and degenerative conditions, including:
- Painful degenerative disc disease
- Spinal fractures and trauma
- Spinal deformity (scoliosis, kyphosis, ankylosing spondylitis)
- Herniated cervical, thoracic, and lumbar discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Failed back and neck surgery
- Spinal tumors and infections
While the causes of back and neck pain have not changed much over the years, at The Spine Center, we are constantly updating and expanding our expertise to include the latest approaches to treating spinal conditions. In all cases the goal remains the same: to restore your health and function as rapidly and completely as possible with the least risk.
From Diagnosis and Nonsurgical Intervention
To ensure an accurate diagnosis, our Spine Center has access to a complete range of advanced diagnostic equipment including high-speed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT scan), bone densitometers, myelography, and discography. More than 90% of back and neck pain responds to conservative interventions, so we also keep current with…and provide…the latest programs and equipment, including:
- Individualized spine rehabilitation program
- Back school instruction
- Exercise physiology
- Job site evaluation
- Aquatic therapy
- Posture correction
Nonsurgical interventions such as epidural steroids, trigger point injections, nerve root blocks, and facet joint injections offer patients additional therapeutic alternatives, when more conservative measures prove inadequate.
…To Simple and Complex Surgical Procedures
Surgical procedures are chosen only after nonsurgical options have been exhausted. Our orthopaedic surgeons are board-certified and qualified to perform a full spectrum of spinal procedures, from minimally invasive microsurgical techniques to complex anterior and posterior spinal reconstruction.
Lumbar Spinal Surgery
Lumbar discectomy is performed to relieve back and/or leg pain caused by a herniated, or ruptured, disc in the lower back that is pinching, or compressing, a nerve root. Tumors and spinal stenosis can also pinch nerves and may require lumbar decompression. During discectomy, the ruptured portion of the disc is surgically removed to relieve the pressure on the nerve. When a degenerative disc causes a nerve to be pinched by bone, spinal fusion is performed to prevent motion within the vertebral segment that is the source of the pain. The entire disc is removed and a bone graft permanently fuses the two vertebrae.
Recent advances in spinal instrumentation, laser surgery, bone graft substitutes, and small-incision techniques have revolutionized lumbar spinal surgery. Our Spine Center surgeons are trained in these techniques and have access to the state-of-the-art surgical equipment required to perform them. Thanks to these advances, as well as to new rehabilitation and mobilization techniques, our spine surgery patients are spending less time in the hospital and are experiencing reduced pain, improved function, and more rapid recovery.
In the near future, new surgical procedures to replace discs and vertebrae in the lumbar spine are likely to become standard treatment protocol. Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that helps relieve the pain and deformity caused by vertebral compression fractures. Guided by x-ray images, our Spine Center surgeons are able to insert a needle through the skin into the vertebral body. “Bone cement”—used for decades in joint replacement—is then injected into the crushed vertebral body. In minutes, the cement hardens, fusing the bone fragments together in a strong, solid mass.
Cervical Spine Conditions
As many patients suffer from neck pain as from lower back pain, and many of the same conditions affect both areas of the spine. At The Spine Center, the same advanced surgical techniques and instrumention used to treat the lumbar spine are also used for repairing the cervical spine, including cervical decompression, cervical fusion, and small incision surgery. Our spine surgeons and rehabilitation experts specifically tailor all cervical spine treatments to the complex and delicate mechanics of the neck.
Scoliosis refers to abnormal side-to-side (lateral) curves in the spinal column. When determining treatment options—such as continued observation, bracing, or corrective surgery—our Spine Center surgeons considers spinal maturity; the degree, extent, and location of the curvature; and the potential for progression. Recent advances in the surgical and post-surgical treatment of scoliosis, and other spinal deformities such as kyphosis and spondylolisthesis, have greatly reduced hospital stays, the need for post-surgical bracing, and recovery time.
Tumors and Other Serious Conditions
For patients with tumors, infections, and other serious conditions of the spinal skeleton, we believe in a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Our Spine Center surgeons consult with other specialists at Southern Bone & Joint, as well as with experts in pediatrics, oncology, and radiation therapy, to ensure the most favorable outcomes.