What is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis

You’ve probably heard the common medical term, “a slipped disc,” but what exactly does that mean? A slipped disc, or more precisely “spondylolisthesis,” is a condition in which one of the vertebrae – the bones in the spinal column – becomes displaced and moves forward or backward in relation to its proper position. This malpositioning can put pressure on the spinal cord and on the nerves that emanate from the spinal column at the position of the slipped disc. The most common cause of spondylolisthesis is degenerative changes in the joints and cartilage of the vertebrae due to aging.. Spondylolisthesis can also result from trauma – a sports injury or an accident, for example.

The most frequent symptom of a lumbar slipped disc is lower back pain. The pain is typically worse after exercise. Decreased range of motion and tightness of the hamstring muscles are also common slipped disc symptoms. The nerve compression may also result in pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs, and in cases of severe compression, loss of bowel or bladder control. Slipped disc can also be associated with spinal stenosis, one of most common spinal problems, characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal. A physician specializing in spinal disorders can diagnose spondylolisthesis using radiographs and X-ray imaging. The severity of the slipped disc is graded on a scale based on the degree of slippage from its normal position. After the diagnosis, a physician can recommend appropriate treatments for spondylolisthesis.

Treatments for slipped disc include physical therapy, exercises for relieving pressure on the affected spinal nerves, medication, and injections. In many patients these treatments are sufficient to alleviate the symptoms of slipped disc. For patients with moderate to severe spondylolisthesis or attendant spinal stenosis who do not respond to conservative therapies, spinal decompression surgery may be recommended. Spinal decompression involves removing portions of the vertebrae that impinge on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Spinal decompression can have a dramatic affect, relieving pain and other symptoms caused by the slipped disc and spinal stenosis. However, removing portions of the vertebrae reduces the stability of the spinal column. Traditionally spinal fusion back surgery is performed after spinal decompression; screws and rods are implanted to permanently join adjacent vertebrae and restore spinal stability. One drawback is that spinal fusion eliminates the natural independent motion that gives the spine its flexibility. Fusion has also been shown to promote deterioration of adjacent vertebrae.

Now there is an alternative to spinal fusion, the TOPS™ System, developed here at Premia Spine. The TOPS System restores stability while preserving the spine’s full range of motion after decompression and has been clinically shown to provide better outcomes than spinal fusion surgery in trials conducted around the world.

We encourage anyone afflicted with back problems to consult a physician who specializes in spinal disorders, and to learn about all treatment options.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back Pain

Ancient medical experts believed back pain was brought on by a fluid imbalance. Many patients were therefore treated with bloodletting. Today we know that back pain can have a variety of causes. Muscle and ligament sprains cause many episodes of back pain. Problems in the internal organs or tumors can also cause back pain by affecting nerves that emanate from the spinal column. Even stress can result in back pain, by causing muscles in the back to tighten. Many people also suffer back pain as a result of traumatic and degenerative spinal disorders such as spinal stenosis and disc diseases including bulging disc and herniated disc. These spinal disorders put pressure on nerves within or emanating from the spinal column, and this pressure on the nerves – commonly referred to as a pinched nerve – causes the pain and other problems associated with the conditions. In cases where pinched nerves do not resolve with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or medications, spinal decompression surgery can relieve pressure on spinal nerves, and dramatically reduce pain and associated symptoms. In the past, spinal fusion back surgery was routinely performed in conjunction with spinal decompression surgery to stabilize the spine by fusing adjacent vertebrae at the site of the surgery.  Spinal fusion back surgery not only produces inconsistent results but also eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae. Today, patients no longer need to surrender spinal motion to benefit from decompression spinal surgery. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine enables spinal decompression patients to maintain their full range of spinal motion. Instead of fusing adjacent vertebrae during surgery the surgeon implants the TOPS System and preserves pain-free flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation at each vertebra.

From simple conservative treatments to advanced surgical procedures, whatever the cause of your back pain, it’s comforting to know effective treatment is available from qualified spine specialists.

Causes of Back Pain in Women

Back Pain in Women

Back pain is a universal and non-discriminatory malady, and the problems that cause back pain in women are often the same as in men. That said, some causes of back pain – menstruation, pregnancy, and osteoporosis, for example – are either unique or more prevalent among women. Menstruation often causes back pain, and cramps associated with menstruation put additional stress on back muscles. Pregnancy also often causes back pain, particularly in its latter stages. The added weight of carrying the fetus puts significant stress on the spine and supporting muscles and ligaments. While being overweight for any reason can cause back pain, the rapid weight gain of pregnancy compounds the problem. Moreover, mental stress is known to cause or contribute to back pain, in part by the concomitant involuntary tightening of muscles in the back. Pregnancy, as with any major life change, is a time of great psychological stress. Later in life, the bone building process in our bodies loses its balance and calcium is depleted from our bones. The more brittle bone is prone to breakage. This phenomena of osteoporosis is more common among women than men.

Common spinal conditions such as degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis also affect women, just as they do men. Whatever its origin, there’s no reason to live with back pain, as a variety of treatment options exist for all their causes. Physical therapy, medication, or even a change of lifestyle can alleviate back pain caused by spinal conditions. Among women for whom spine surgery is recommended, advanced microsurgical techniques and stabilization systems provide effective treatments for these potentially disabling conditions. Decompression spinal surgery, in which a portion of a vertebra impinging on a spinal nerve is removed, can have a dramatic and immediate impact on reducing back pain associated with these conditions. Spinal fusion surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression, fusing adjacent vertebrae at the affected segment to stabilize the spine. Today the TOPS™ System from Premia Spine provides a clinically proven superior outcome than spinal fusion back surgery. Unlike spinal fusion, the TOPS System preserves the vertebrae’s range of motion. In use since 2005, the system has enabled patients around the world to maintain their full range of activities following decompression surgery, further advancing the treatment of common but potentially debilitating spinal conditions.

Causes of Back Pain in Men

Back Pain in Men

Back pain affects people of all ages and both genders. But the gender most affected by back pain is men. Men are especially prone to traumatic back pain due to engagement in physical activities at work and play, such as heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, and inconsistent exercise (i.e., the weekend warrior). These activities carry a greater risk of injury to the spine and to the ligaments that support the spine. Accidents, sports injuries, and actions as simple as improperly lifting a heavy object or twisting the back awkwardly when reaching for something can all be responsible for trauma injuries. Even spinal injuries that occur in childhood can manifest in later years, providing a painful reminder of long-ago trauma. The physical stresses and strains on the spine to which men are subjected can also accelerate and exacerbate the onset of spinal conditions such as degenerative disc disease.

If you’re concerned about a back condition that’s causing you pain, remember that the great majority of cases of back pain in men involve muscle trauma or other strains or minor injuries that resolve on their own with rest and proper care. If back pain persists, a qualified medical specialist can identify the problem, and a variety of effective treatment options are likely available. Even serious spinal conditions such as degenerative disc diseases and spinal stenosis can be effectively treated. Spinal decompression surgery, for example, can relieve pressure on spinal nerves, dramatically reducing pain and associated symptoms. And today, patients no longer need to surrender the full range of spinal motion to benefit from decompression spinal surgery. Whereas spinal fusion back surgery was routinely performed in conjunction with decompression spine surgery, now the TOPS™ System alternative enables spinal decompression patients to maintain their full range of spinal motion. Instead of fusing adjacent vertebrae at the point of the decompression surgery, the TOPS System implant allows each vertebra to maintain independent flexion and lateral motion.

Men may be more prone to back pain than other groups, but today a variety of effective treatment options can provide relief for even its most serious forms.

Types of Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most complex and confounding conditions in medicine. There are several types of back pain, typically classified by their cause, and these pains may have their origins in back muscles, ligaments, in the spine, or even as a result of health problems in other parts of the body.

Muscle strains are the source of many cases of back pain, usually caused by overuse, such as engaging in strenuous activities to which your body is not accustomed. Symptoms of muscle strains include muscle weakness, inflammation, cramping and muscle spasms. These strains can result in severe lower back pain, but the pain remains localized, and does not radiate down to the legs.

Ligaments, which bind bones together, can also cause pain when sprained. Symptoms of ligament sprains are similar to muscle strains, but take longer to heal – between six to eight weeks and several months. If not allowed to heal properly, ligament sprains can give rise to chronic back pain.

Pain due to spinal problems is a common form of back pain. It often results from pressure exerted on spinal nerves – a condition commonly called a pinched nerve – due to degeneration, injury, or illness affecting the spinal column. A pinched nerve causes localized pain similar to a muscle strain, but may also involve other parts of the body. Pinched nerves in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine, can cause burning lower back and leg pain, and also affect the bladder, appendix, large intestine, sex organs, knees and prostate. Simple rest, medications, and physical therapy are among the beneficial non-invasive approaches to alleviate back pain in these cases. Even serious spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis and associated degenerative disc diseases that have condemned generations to sometimes crippling pain and restricted mobility, can today be effectively treated with advanced microsurgical procedures such as laminectomies and other forms of spinal decompression surgerySpinal fusion back surgery has usually been performed immediately following spinal decompression, in order to stabilize the affected portion of the spine. Though decompression spinal surgery can dramatically alleviate pain and other symptoms of compressed or pinched nerves, the spinal fusion eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae. Today even this limitation has been surmounted. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine provides a clinically proven superior alternative to spinal fusion that preserves the full, independent motion of each vertebra.

If you’re experiencing back pain, remember that though the condition can have a variety of causes, a qualified physician can offer many effective treatment options.

Is There a Cure for Lower Back Pain?

Cure for Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems affecting the human population. One reason this problem is so common is because back pain can have many different causes. So if you’re wondering if there’s a cure for your lower back pain, the answer depends on what is causing it. Muscle and ligament strains can cause intense back pain. Many times these strains can be cured with simple rest. Where rest alone won’t relieve the back pain, non-invasive treatments such as medications, steroidal injections, and physical therapy will often ameliorate the symptoms, if not provide an outright cure. For spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis and related disorders of the spine – common causes of lower back pain, with onset typically after the age of 35 – non-invasive treatments may also provide relief. In some cases decompression spinal surgery may be performed to relieve pressure on affected spinal nerves. During this surgery, a surgeon trims away portions of a vertebra that impinge on a nerve. (This impingement is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve.) Spinal decompression surgery can have a dramatic and immediate impact on reducing back pain, providing patients with some level of a “cure.” Traditionally spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression, to stabilize the vertebrae where the operation was performed. But spinal fusion eliminates the natural flexion between the fused vertebrae, and can contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Today spinal decompression patients have a superior alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS System from Premia Spine preserves the natural motion of the spine, and has been proven to provide superior results to spinal fusion in clinical trials conducted worldwide.

If you experience lower back pain, the first priority is to identify its cause. Whatever the root of the problem, you will likely have a number of options for effective treatment that will relieve the pain, and in many cases cure the condition.

What is Lumbar Fusion?

Lumbar Fusion

Anyone who’s had chronic lower back pain has probably heard the term lumbar fusion. But what is lumbar fusion? Lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure performed on the lower, or lumbar, portion of the spine. Its goal is to stabilize the back after spinal decompression surgery to relieve pain, restore mobility, and/or relieve other symptoms of pinched nerves in the lower back. The procedure is also called lumbar spinal fusion, or simply spinal fusion, and takes its name from the fact that two (or occasionally more) adjacent vertebrae are fused as a result of the procedure.

Spinal problems such as traumatic injuries or natural changes in the spine associated with aging, such as spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease, can put pressure on the nerves of the spinal column. The lower back is a common site for these problems because of the bending, twisting and other physical stresses the lower back is subjected to over our lifetime. These spinal conditions cause symptoms of tingling, numbness, pain, restricted mobility and, even, paralysis. Physical therapy, medication or spinal injections can relieve many of these symptoms, but when these interventions are not effective, a spinal decompression procedure to relieve pressure on these nerves may be recommended. During spinal decompression, the surgeon trims away portions of a vertebra impinging on the pinched nerve. This compromises the strength of the vertebrae, so lumbar spinal fusion surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression therapy to stabilize the spine. The drawback is that lumbar fusion eliminates the natural independent movement of the vertebrae. But today the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System provides a clinically superior alternative to spinal fusion, which allows the individual vertebrae to maintain their full range of independent motion. That’s just one reason it’s important for candidates of lumbar spinal decompression to know exactly what lumbar fusion is, as well as the full range of treatment options available.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Spinal Surgery?

Spine Surgery Recovery

For people with moderate to severe spinal problems that do not respond to conventional conservative therapy, spinal surgery can provide dramatic relief. For example, spinal decompression can remove pressure on nerves, relieve pain and restore mobility in many such patients. If you’re a candidate for spinal surgery, it’s important to understand all aspects of the procedure and its aftermath. One of the most important questions these patients should have answers to is the length of time required to recover from spinal surgery.

Recovery time from back surgery depends on the form of surgery. Broadly speaking, there are two forms of back surgery: procedures where vertebrae are fused together versus procedures that do not immobilize the spine. Recovery from fusion surgery can take longer than the recovery time from back surgeries that only involve a decompression or a surgery that preserves motion. Your physician can tell you more about the recovery time required for a particular procedure. But it’s important for patients to consider outcomes as well as recovery time. For example, spinal decompression surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal fusion back surgery. As part of the recovery process, restrictions on motions and activities are placed on the patient to allow the previously independent vertebral bodies to biologically fuse together and become one long rigid segment devoid of motion. In contrast, with the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System, an alternative to spinal fusion following a spinal decompression procedure, there are no restrictions placed on the patient.  You maintain full range of independent vertebral motion after surgery, and the speed of recovry from this back surgery is dictated by the patient.   You can increase you activity level as quickly as you want.

Back surgery treatment does not end when the surgeon completes his or her operative work. The recovery period is of critical importance in restoring spinal health. Whatever the recovery period required, make sure you carefully follow your physician’s instructions. And be aware of all your options for spinal surgery, so you’ll not only have as short a recovery time as possible, but also the best possible outcome to your back surgery.

Can You Get Blood Clots From Spinal Surgery?

Spine Surgery

Spinal surgery has made significant advances in terms of both its safety and efficacy in correcting a multitude of back problems, from traumatic spinal cord injury to degenerative diseases like spinal stenosisspondylosis and slipped disc. Many of these advances in spinal surgery have come in recent years as a result of minimally invasive microsurgical tools and techniques. Nonetheless, back surgery is a serious operation, and surgical candidates need to be aware of all facets of the operation they’re considering – not only the benefits of the surgery, but the potential risks. One of the risks of spinal surgery is that of developing blood clots.

Any injury to the body increases the risk of a blood clot, as the injury stimulates the clotting process. Surgery constitutes an injury or trauma, and the body responds accordingly. In fact, spinal surgery – which the body interprets as an injury to the spinal cord – can lead to the formation of blood clots within the veins. Should such clots become dislodged, they can clog a blood vessel as it narrows, causing a stroke or heart attack, possibly resulting in paralysis or death. Proper postoperative care, medications, and the patient’s active role in the recovery process can minimize the risks of blood clots.

Anyone considering back surgery should also be aware that some procedures for treating a spinal problem may present lower risks or provide better outcomes than others. For example, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) procedure, which may be performed after spinal decompression surgery in order to stabilize the spine, provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery, which was the traditional choice for spine stabilization before the introduction of the TOPS system. The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. If you’re a candidate for back surgery, make sure you understand not only the upsides and downsides, but also all the alternative surgical solutions that can help you minimize the already low risks associated with advanced spinal procedures.

How much physical therapy do I need after spinal surgery?

Physical Therapy

Whether a patient is having open back surgery for a spinal cord injury or a minimally invasive procedure for a condition such as a slipped disc or spinal stenosis, the operation itself is only the first part of a successful outcome. The post-surgical recovery period is critically important for long-term success, and the proper physical therapy program plays a large role in this process.

Patients for both open and minimally invasive back surgery will require physical therapy. Physical therapy strengthens the muscles in the back and helps heal the tissues in the area where the surgery was performed. In fact, back problems are often caused in part by muscle weakness. Even in otherwise well conditioned individuals, the back muscles around areas exhibiting spinal problems have been shown to be weaker than surrounding muscles, and weak muscles also contribute to poor spine and spinal joint functioning. Thus, one of the goals of post-operative therapy is to strengthen muscles that support the spine. Some of these muscles are in the back, but specific abdominal muscle groups also provide back support. Biofeedback devices can help patients learn how to activate, control and exercise these abdominal muscles, thereby strengthening them.

The amount of physical therapy required will vary based on the procedure performed, and this is one area where surgical options are important to consider. For example, patients undergoing spinal decompression surgery typically have a secondary procedure performed in conjunction in order to stabilize the vertebral segments where the spinal decompression was performed. This secondary operation following the spinal decompression procedure may be spinal fusion or the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) implant. The TOPS Solution preserves the full range of motion of individual vertebra whereas spinal fusion surgery eliminates this independent movement. More important from a recovery perspective, The TOPS solution places no restrictions on patients.  You can do whatever you feel like pursuing.

The amount of physical therapy required after spinal surgery will vary from patient to patient, and from procedure to procedure. Make sure you’re aware of the physical therapy associated with the procedure you’re considering.