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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.

What is the X-Stop procedure?

X-stop

X-Stop is a minimally invasive spinal surgery procedure that may be performed to treat cases of lumbar spinal stenosis that don’t respond to more conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and medication. X-Stop is also the name of the titanium implant used in the procedure, a device in a category termed “Interspinous Process Decompression Systems.” This lumbar spinal surgery procedure was approved as safe and effective by the FDA in 2005.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is an unnatural narrowing of the spinal column in the lower, or lumbar portion of the spine. The constricted spinal canal that characterizes spinal stenosis puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves emanating from it at the affected vertebrae, which can cause pain and restrict mobility. In the X-Stop procedure, the titanium implant is inserted into the spine through a small incision made between two spinal “processes” of the vertebra affected by stenosis. Spinous processes are the protrusions of the individual vertebra visible along the back. The X-Stop device distracts two vertebral segments and relieves the pressure on the nerve roots caused by the stenosis, which in turn often relieves leg and back pain. The X-Stop, a recent advance in spinal stenosis surgery, is not an alternative to spinal fusion back surgery, a procedure that eliminates the natural flexion and rotation of the fused vertebrae. The X-Stop is ideal for patients with very mild spinal stenosis. For more advanced disease, the X-Stop is not applicable because the implant cannot be used when decompression surgery is necessary to remove the bony elements pressing on nerve roots. In such situations, where decompression surgery is performed in conjunction with spine stabilization, the TOPS System may be a more relevant solution for maintaining the spine’s native motion.

As developers of treatments for advanced spinal stenosis and associated conditions, we at Premia Spinerecommend that patients learn about all their treatment options. If you have a back condition that’s causing pain or is affecting your mobility, be certain to learn about all the choices available to you.

What is Interspinous Process Fusion?

Interspinous Process Fusion

As we noted in our last blog, X-Stop, an implant deployed in the surgical treatment of mild spinal stenosis, was approved by the FDA in 2005 as a safe and effective treatment for symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. This procedure illustrates the advances that make spinal medicine such an exciting field. Today, there are devices similar to the X-Stop in design but that do allow motion at the operative segment. These devices are used to create a spinal fusion between the adjacent vertebral segments. This procedure is more commonly referred to as an interspinous process fusion. As with the X-Stop, a device is inserted in a small incision made between adjacent spinous processes, which are the bony protrusions of the vertebrae that can be seen and felt along the back of the spine. Interspinous process fusion is another form of spinal fusion back surgery that eliminates the natural flexion and rotational ability of the individual vertebrae.

Interspinous process fusion is typically performed in about one hour, either under general anesthesia or using intravenous sedation with local anesthesia, and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure is relevant for patients who have mild spinal stenosis and require only a minimal removal of bone and soft tissue to achieve pain relief. This represents an advance in spinal care, but any spinal surgery has the risk of complications, and not every technique is right for every patient. Before considering surgical intervention including interspinous process fusion, patients should try more conservative treatments such as exercises, physical therapy, epidural injections, and pain medications. When surgery is recommended, interspinous process fusion is most appropriate for people over 50 years of age with mild spinal stenosisconfined to one or two levels of the spine, and who experience relief from symptoms when bending forward at the waist or when sitting. With more advanced spinal stenosis disease, patients should consider the option of avoiding fusion surgery and opting for a solution, such as TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty, that preserves motion of the spine at the operative level while stabilizing the segment after decompression surgery. Here at Premia Spine, developers of advanced surgical treatments for spinal stenosis and related spinal problems, we think it’s important for anyone suffering from ongoing back pain or restricted mobility to know all their 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.