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Neck & Back Treatments

The spine is made up of three curved areas: the cervical spine (neck), lumbar spine (lower back) and thoracic spine (chest). The spine helps us balance, hold our bodies upright, and protects our spinal cord. It is made up of small bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of each other and cushioned by disks. A network of nerves, muscles, ligaments, and facet joints also work together to coordinate body movements and stability. Problems with any of these parts can cause severe pain and difficulty with mobility.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is used to treat symptoms of a variety of back conditions, such as degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractures, and spondylolisthesis. It involves fusing together damaged vertebrae. Spinal fusion prevents the painful vertebrae from moving, therefore reducing or eliminating pain. There are many types of spinal fusion techniques a surgeon can use depending on a patient’s specific condition.

Artificial Disk Replacement

Artificial disk replacement is a surgical procedure used to treat damaged disks in the spine. It involves removing a damaged or worn intervertebral disk and replacing them using state-of-the-art technology and artificial disks. There are many types of surgeries used to treat spine problems when non-surgical methods are ineffective.

Bone Grafts in Spine Surgery

A bone graft is additional bone used in spinal fusion procedures to help the bones that are fused together to heal into one, strong bone. There are several types of bone grafts. They include taking bone from another part of the body, taking bone from the spine where the fusion is being performed, using bone from a donor or cadaver, or synthetic bones. People who are having a spinal fusion procedure should speak with their doctors about which type of graft is best for them.

Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery

Thanks to recent advances in medical technology, some spine surgery, such as procedures for decompression and fusion, can now be performed in a minimally- or less-invasive fashion. That usually means less pain and faster recovery times. During minimally-invasive spine surgery, the surgeon accesses the spine through smaller incisions, using tiny, specialized instruments. It enables the surgeon to perform the procedure with less bleeding and less trauma to the surrounding muscles and tissues.

Below you will find information about different minimally-invasive spine surgery options.

  • Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion – This type of surgery is performed through several small incisions (smaller than 1 inch), or puncture sites. A thin, lighted tube with a camera attached (an endoscope) and surgical instruments are passed through the incisions. The endoscope allows the surgeon to see the surgical site on a monitor. This eliminates the need for larger incisions. Minimally invasive surgeries present fewer complications and quicker recovery periods for the patients.
    • A minimally invasive spinal fusion corrects spinal deformities such as scoliosis, spine degeneration and spinal instability. The goal of a spinal fusion is to strengthen the spine, alleviate irritated nerves, increase function and mobility and reduce or eliminate pain.
    • A fusion can be achieved in several different ways. In one approach, a surgeon will place bone between the vertebrae, causing it to grow or fuse together. Sometimes, a surgeon will use metal screws or hollow, metal cylinders (spinal cages) filled with bone graft material to fuse the spine together.
  • Kyphoplasty – This technique is used to treat spinal fractures or collapses. Fractures occur from bone loss that may have been caused by osteoporosis, cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hyperthyroidism or corticosteroids.
    • Kyphoplasty (also known as Kyphon® Balloon Kyphoplasty) is a minimally invasive method used to repair spinal fractures. The procedure uses orthopaedic balloons and bone cement to repair fractures. It actually sets broken vertebra by creating an internal cast. Many people are relieved of pain and have better mobility immediately after the kyphoplasty.
  • X-STOP Spacer – The X-STOP Spacer treats lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), a condition which causes back and leg pain. Stenosis happens when the space between vertebrae is reduced and bone or tissue is touching nerves in the spine. When somone with LSS sits down or bends forward, their pain is often relieved because thos positions expand the space around the pinched spinal nerves. Using a small implant, the X-STOP Spacer mimics this principle by lifting the vertebra off the pinched nerve. The implant fits between two bones in the spine, at the location of the pinched nerve. With a Spacer implant, LSS sufferers are able to experience sustained relief.

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion and Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

During these two types of lower back spine fusion, the painful vertebrae in the lower back are fused together into one, strong bone. Interbody fusion involves removing the intervertebral disk and replacing it with a metal, plastic or bone spacer. Interbody fusion can be performed by inserting the spacer from the back (posterior) or slight side (transformaminal).

Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion

During this type of procedure to fuse together painful vertebrae, the incision is made down the middle of the lower back. The surgeon decompresses the spinal nerves by removing any damaged bone. Graft material is then placed along the sides of the vertebrae to promote bone growth and sometimes inserts screws for stability.

Surgical Treatments for Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)

Pinched nerves of the spine or nerve root injuries can be caused by changes in the vertebral disks that happen with age, arthritis, spondylosis, or physical trauma. With pinched nerves, the pain may radiate to several areas of the body. There are many types of surgeries used to treat spine problems when non-surgical methods are ineffective.

Three main types of procedures that can be performed for pinched nerves:

Discectomy and Fusion: This procedure involves removing the problematic disk and placing a bone graft in its place. Then, the two vertebrae are fused together. Screws may also be used to provide stability.

Laminoforaminotomy: This procedure involves the surgeon removing parts of the bone that are compressing the nerve, as well as the herniated disk if applicable.

Artificial Disk Replacement:  This is a newer procedure in which the damaged disk is removed and replaced with state-of-the-art artificial implants.