Back and Spine
Our fellowship-trained spine surgeons treat painful conditions of the upper and lower back, as well as cervical conditions (the neck region) with one goal in mind –getting you back to what you love to do. If you are struggling with pain associated with your spine, our specialists can evaluate and treat your condition to help you regain strength, reduce pain and recoup, recover, recapture, reclaim.
- Marilyn Parker-Cullen
Spine Conditions We Treat
Our back and spine specialists are experts in their field, offering comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of painful spine conditions. Treatment for back and spine pain may include physical therapy, injections, spinal surgery, and lifestyle and exercise changes.
Low Back Pain & Injuries
Low back pain is one of the most frequent problems treated by orthopedic surgeons. Four out of five adults will experience significant low back pain at some time during their lifespan. After the common cold, problems caused by the lower back are the most frequent cause of lost work days in adults under the age of 45.
The lower or lumbar spine is a complex structure that connects your upper body (including your chest and arms) to your lower body (including your pelvis and legs). Your lower back is a complex structure of vertebrae, disks, spinal cord, and nerves, including five bones called lumbar vertebrae, six shock absorbers called disks, spinal cord and nerves, small joints, and muscles and ligaments.
The lower part of your spine provides you with both mobility and strength. The mobility allows movements such as turning, twisting or bending; and the strength allows you to stand, walk and lift. Proper functioning of your lower back is needed for almost all activities of daily living. Pain in the lower back can restrict your activity and reduce your work capacity and quality of enjoyment of everyday living.
What causes low back pain?
Low back pain can be brought on by aging, poor conditioning, improper use of the back muscles, obesity, and smoking.
The muscles of the low back provide power and strength for activities such as standing, walking and lifting. A strain of the muscle can occur when the muscle is poorly conditioned or overworked. The ligaments of the low back act to interconnect the five vertebral bones and provide support or stability for the low back. A sprain of the low back can occur when a sudden, forceful movement injures a ligament which has become stiff or weak through poor conditioning or overuse.
The natural effects of normal aging on the body (the low back in particular) are often associated with the following; osteoporosis (decreased amount of bone) decrease in strength and elasticity of muscles; and decrease in elasticity and strength of ligaments.
Neck Pain and Injuries
The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae which begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments (like thick rubber bands) provide stability to the spine. The muscles allow for support and motion. The neck has a significant amount of motion, and supports the weight of the head. However, because it is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. Often, neck pain is a temporary condition that disappears with time, but when the pain persists, it is important to seek medical diagnosis and treatment, in order to relieve those symptoms/conditions.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments, and nerves – as well as in bones and joints of the spine. The most common causes of neck pain are soft tissue abnormalities due to injury or prolonged wear and tear. In rare cases, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. In some people, neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms.
Degenerative and inflammatory diseases – Degenerative diseases that cause neck pain include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people as a result of wear of the joints between the bones in the neck. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause destruction of the joints of the neck. Both of these major types of arthritis can cause stiffness and pain.
Cervical disk degeneration also can cause neck pain. The disk acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration (typically age 40 onwards), the normal gelatin-like center of the disk degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. As the disk space narrows, added stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing further wear and degenerative disease. The cervical disk may also protrude and cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots when the rim of the disk weakens. This is known as a herniated cervical disk.
Injury – Because the neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. Motor vehicle or diving accidents, contact sports, and falls may result in neck injury. The regular use of safety belts in motor vehicles can help to prevent or minimize injury. A “rear end” automobile collision may result in hyperextension, a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits, or hyperflexion, a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits. Most common injuries are to the soft tissues, i.e., muscles and ligaments. Severe injury with fracture or dislocation of the neck may damage the spinal cord and cause paralysis (quadriplegia).
Much less common causes of neck pain include tumors, infections, or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.