Degenerative Spine Disorders

The spine physicians and surgeons at UM BWMC use the latest operative techniques to treat spine conditions and disorders. While there are many conditions and disorders of the spine, some degenerative disorders of the spine and their surgical treatments include the following:

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 the spine at that level.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain traveling down your leg. Your doctor may also refer to it as a radiculapathy. This can be caused by a disc herniation, degenerative diseases, spondylolisthesis and in rare cases tumors or infections and generally results in nerve compression. Surgical management consists of 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). If there are other problems your surgeon may also perform a fusion at the time of the decompression.

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 nucleaus leaks out it is called a disc herniation. This can not only cause problems by pressing on a nerve in your back or neck, it also irritates the nerve by releasing chemicals that irritate the nerve. Surgical management aims in removing this leaked disc material and may be accomplished by many different surgical techniques including minimally invasive techniques. You should ask your surgeon what surgical technique is best for you.

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 including congenital (you are born with it), however usually occurs as a process of aging and is most common in patients over 50 years of age. Most operative treatments consist of removing the structures that may be causing the stenosis. Common procedures to treat this condition include laminectomy, discectomy or interspinous process spacer.

Spondylolisthesis

This is a slipping forward of one vertebrae on another. This can be caused by a congenital disorder (you are born with it), degenerative disorder (from wear and tear) or repetitive injuries. Common symptoms may include back pain and in some cases leg pain. Surgical correction involves a decompression and an instrumented fusion.

Myelopathies

This is caused by a compression of the spinal cord usually in the neck area. This should be treated with a decompression with or without a fusion.

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