UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center spine surgeons and specialists provide comprehensive care to patients with disorders, injuries, deformities and painful conditions of the neck and back.

Our providers create multidisciplinary care plans that evaluate your spine condition and consider all treatment options before a surgical decision is made.

Causes of Neck and Back Pain

We treat a number of degenerative spine disorders, guiding you towards the best treatment possible. Common disorders include:

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is relatively common and is a normal part of aging. This occurs when the disc (the cushions) in between the vertebra (the bones) in your back or neck wear out. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Treatments include physical therapy, injections, bracing, and surgery in severe cases. Surgery usually entails removing the degenerated disc, placing a spacer where the disc was removed and fusing that portion of the spine.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain traveling down your leg. This can be caused by a disc herniation, degenerative diseases, spondylolisthesis and in rare cases tumors or infections, and generally results in nerve compression.

Sciatica may be treated with surgery by removing the cause of the compression by taking out a portion of the disc, in the case of a disc herniation, or by removing part of the bone or bone spur.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is when the spine curves sideways. A spine surgeon can work with patients to develop a customized plan for management and treatment options.

Disc Herniation

The disc acts as a cushion and is situated in between the vertebrae. The disc is composed of a tough outer structure (annulus) and a softer, jelly like inner structure (nucleus) that is responsible for most of the "cushion." When this softer nucleus leaks out it is called a disc herniation. This can cause problems by pressing on a nerve in your back or neck and releasing chemicals that irritate the nerve.

Surgical management will remove this leaked disc material, which may be accomplished through a variety of techniques including minimally invasive procedures. Your surgeon will guide you to the best treatment option.

Spinal Stenosis

This is a narrowing of the spine canal which may compress nerve roots or your spinal cord. It is caused by a number of conditions and you can also be born with it. However, it usually occurs as a process of aging and is most common in patients over 50 years of age. Most surgical treatments consist of removing the structures that may be causing the stenosis.

Spondylolisthesis

This is a slipping forward of one vertebrae on to another. You can be born with this condition, or it can be a degenerative disorder (from wear and tear) or from repetitive injuries. Common symptoms may include back pain and in some cases leg pain. Surgical correction involves decompression and fusion.

Myelopathies

This condition is caused by spinal cord compression usually in the neck area. This can cause pain, weakness, and trouble with walking and fine motor skills. Myelopathies can be surgically treated with a decompression and may include a spinal fusion.

Spine Tumors

A growth that develops within the spinal canal or within the bones of the spine may be cancerous or noncancerous. If it is cancerous, we'll work with your oncologist to develop a long-term plan at UM BWMC's Tate Cancer Center.

Spina Bifida

A birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Surgery can close the defect.

Treatment Options and Spine Surgery

Non-surgical measures can often control the pain. Our physicians always begin the treatment process by encouraging patients to exhaust non-operative techniques, including physical therapy, medications, injections, acupuncture or massage.

However, if the pain persists to the point of a patient not being able to function properly, if their quality of life is majorly impacted, or if weakness or other problems develop, surgery may be necessary to relieve the symptoms.

Whenever possible, our surgeons use minimally invasive surgical techniques, using small incisions to reach the site of the spine that needs correcting. Procedures are done in the UM BWMC Surgery Center, which is equipped with cutting-edge technology for complex orthopaedic and spinal surgery cases. Our experienced spine surgeons perform disc replacements, fusions, laminectomies, and other procedures to help patients return to a healthy, active lifestyle.

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