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 is sciatica?

sciatica

Everyone has heard of sciatica, but few people know what it actually is – or isn’t. Sciatica is not a spinal condition, or a disease, but a set of symptoms associated with a variety of spinal conditions, characterized by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve extends from the base of the spine through the hips and buttocks and down the legs to the tips of the feet. Symptoms of compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can include radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness, a tingling sensation along the length of the nerve, and lower back pain.

Several spinal conditions can cause sciatica. A herniated disc or a ruptured disc in the lower back – the lumbar spine – can press against or leak fluid into the spinal canal, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Traumatic injuries such as car accidents or falls can cause compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve roots or the nerve itself. A slipped disc, or spondylolisthesis, can also cause sciatica if it impinges on any part of the sciatic nerve. Lumbar spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back – can also compress or irritate the sciatic nerve.

Conservative, non-surgical treatments typically include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and low-impact exercises. Alternative methods such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and acupressure may also be employed. However, surgery for sciatica, such as a discectomy or foraminotomy, may be required for relief of sciatica in the most severe cases of unrelenting and debilitating symptoms. Spinal decompression surgery relieves the pressure, and is often paired with spine fusion surgery to stabilize the spine after decompression. But fusion eliminates the independent mobility of the fused vertebrae. Now there’s an alternative spinal surgery proven to provide better clinical outcomes than fusion, which preserves the patient’s natural range of motion of the individual vertebrae – the TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty procedure. This is one of the exciting advances bringing new hope and treatment options to patients with moderate to severe spinal conditions that do not respond to conservative treatments. We at Premia Spine are on the forefront of developing advanced surgical treatments for spinal disorders. We encourage anyone with lower back pain to investigate all their treatment options.

What is Spondylolysis?

spondylolysis

It’s not as common as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc, but when it comes to the conditions that can cause lower back pain, spondylolysis deserves a place near the top of the list. Spondylolysis is a defect in a vertebra – a bone in the spinal column – at the point where it connects to the vertebra above it. The defect can lead to small stress fractures that allow a vertebra to move out of position and press against, or compress the spinal cord. This condition is called spondylolisthesis, or slipped discA slipped disc can cause several symptoms, with lower back pain being the most common. The good news is that many people with spondylolysis remain asymptomatic – they have no symptoms and are usually unaware they even have the condition. When the spondylolysis does cause lower back pain, it usually spreads across the lower back and feels like a muscle strain, and is generally exacerbated by exercise or vigorous activities.The weakness at the root of spondylolysis occurs in the pars interarticularis, the thin piece of bone that connects the upper and lower segments of the facet joints, which link the vertebrae and allow the movement of the spine. The cause of the weakness in the vertebrae that characterizes spondylolysis is unknown. Genetics is believed to play a role, and repetitive trauma to the lower back may also be a causal factor. The condition is not rare, affecting an estimated three to seven percent of Americans, many of them younger than traditional spinal patients. In fact, spondylolysisis the primary cause of low back pain in people under 25 years of age.

Simple over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen can often relieve mild symptoms of spondylolysis. In moderate to severe cases that don’t respond to conservative treatments, spinal decompression surgery to remove the portion of the defective vertebra compressing the spinal nerve may be recommended. Typically, spinal fusion surgery is performed following the decompression procedure in order to stabilize the spine. Recently an advanced alternative to spinal fusion, the TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty procedure, has been proven to provide better clinical outcomes than fusion, while preserving the patient’s full range of back motion.

Back pain is one of the world’s most common and debilitating medical conditions. As pioneers of advanced surgical treatments for spinal disorders, we at Premia Spine encourage anyone suffering from back pain to learn about all the treatment options available today.

What is Laminoplasty?

Laminoplasty

Laminoplasty is a surgical procedure for treating spinal stenosis, an unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal and a common cause of mild to severe lower back pain and restricted mobility. A variety of conservative methods of therapy for spinal stenosis are available, including spinal stenosis exercises, medications and injections. These therapies are often successful in relieving the symptoms of spinal stenosis, but if they prove ineffective, spinal surgery may be recommended. Numerous surgical procedures are available. Tools and therapies have undergone great advances in recent years, providing better outcomes and fewer complications. Laminoplasty is one example of these advances in treatments for spinal stenosis.

Laminoplasty is a surgical procedure performed through a small incision. The spinal surgeon makes two cuts almost opposite each other through the lamina, or outer sheath of the vertebra affected by spinal stenosis. One cut is made completely through the lamina, and the second cut is simply a groove that acts as a hinge, allowing the lamina to swing open like a door. In fact, this procedure is often referred to as an “open door laminoplasty.“ The tips of the spinous processes may be removed to create room for the bone to pull open. This spinal stenosis surgery procedure immediately relieves pressure on the spinal cord. The lamina is then closed, using small pieces of bones as wedges to ensure the spinal cord is no longer compressed at that level. Spinal fusion back surgery may be performed in conjunction with laminoplasty to stabilize the vertebra. But spinal fusion eliminates the natural flexion and rotation on the individual vertebra. Today there’s a new option, the TOPS System, which stabilizes the vertebrae while permitting natural flexion and rotation of the individual vertebra. It’s proven to provide superior clinical outcomes to spinal fusion surgery.

Spinal problems and back pain are among the most common and debilitating medical ailments. If you suffer from the symptoms of spinal problems, you have a variety of treatment options. Make sure you’re familiar with all the medical procedures available to you.

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.

How do I Care for Myself at Home After My Spinal Surgery?

After Surgery Care

Patients scheduled for back surgery are rightfully concerned about their recuperation, and how they will care for themselves once home after the spinal surgery procedure. This is an important subject to discuss with your spine surgeon. Some general rules apply to all patients following back surgery. First and foremost, plan on taking an active role in your recovery, and that starts by getting into shape before your back surgery. With your surgeon, physical therapist and others, discuss what activities you can engage in as well as restrictions you need to observe. If you don’t have someone who can provide the assistance you will need in the first days after your return home following back surgery, a home attendant will be provided for you. You will be prescribed pain medications, which help you heal by letting your muscles relax, instead of contracting and writhing in reaction to pain. Let your body rest. You may require frequent naps, as your body recovers from the stress of surgery, and narcotic pain medications induce drowsiness.

But pain medications can also have negative side effects, and if continued their use will prolong recovery time and lead to dependency. Narcotic pain medications cause constipation. Weaning yourself off pain medication should be a recuperation goal. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids during this recovery period. You should be off pain medication three months after surgery. Walking is the best physical activity during the first six weeks post surgery. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes at least twice a day. Avoid twisting and bending during this time, and avoid lifting, pushing or pulling anything that weighs more than ten pounds.

Another step you can take to ease post-surgery care is select the procedure with the best outcomes and fewest post-surgical complications for the treatment of your condition. For example, the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System has been shown in clinical studies around the world to provide better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion back surgery following spinal decompression therapy. TOPS is an approved implant that offers a means of stabilizing the spine after spinal decompression treatment. Unlike spine fusion surgery, the TOPS implant preserves independent movement of the vertebrae. Making sure you choose the procedure with the best clinical outcomes can help ensure you’ll have the best possible recovery.