It’s common knowledge that the spine serves many important functions: it helps you stand tall, sit comfortably, and move with ease. Whether you are a football player or a retired school teacher, spine injuries can be devastating. Nobody likes to have a “pain in the back”. You want to take good care of your spine to maintain your quality of life, mobility and independence.
Some common and not so common spine issues:
Issues with discs. Injuries can occur in any section of your spine: Neck (cervical), Thoracic (mid-back), and/or Lumbar (lower back). These discs can herniate, tear, and degenerate. The causes of such injuries vary greatly. Degeneration and tears can happen with normal wear and tear from aging, while herniation can be the result of lifting, twisting, pulling or some other movement.
Pinched nerves. A nerve can become pinched if there’s too much pressure on it. That can be the result of something pushing on it, like muscle, tendon, cartilage or even bone. When a nerve is pinched it can cause tingling, numbness or discomfort.
Sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs along your back and down to the legs. When that nerve sustains an injury, it can become very uncomfortable. Pain can be felt in the back, legs, and bottom, and the discomfort has been known to hinder common, regular motion.
Scoliosis. Kids, adolescents, and those suffering from arthritis might find that their spine has developed an abnormal curve. This curve can create pressure and discomfort that may affect the back and lower extremities.
There are multiple approaches, both surgical and non-surgical, that can treat these spinal issues. TOC physicians Blake Boyett, Larry Parker, John Rodriguez-Feo, Calame Sammons, Brian Scholl, Morris Seymour and Murray Spruiell handle surgical options to address spinal issues; and physicians Brian Carter, Michael Cosgrove, Craig Lincoln, Vandana Maladkar, and Saranya Nadella specialize in non-surgical interventions for spinal issues. Physicians Steven Buckley and Michael Lawley, TOC’s pediatric orthopaedic specialists, treat spine issues in children ages newborn to 14.
Non-surgical approaches include:
Bracing. Some patients find stability and comfort with a corset-like brace. The brace goes around the back and stomach and can provide additional support where needed.
Injections. There are several forms of injections that can bring relief. A Facet injection is primarily performed for chronic neck and back pain due to spondylarthrosis. An epidural injection may provide relief from radiating arm or leg pain caused when a nerve in the spine is inflamed or compressed (“pinched nerve”).
Medication. Pain and inflammation can often be managed with prescription and over-the-counter medications. These may include steroids and narcotics.
Physical Therapy. Trained practitioners, with exercise, active therapy, massage, electrical stimulation, heat, ice, or ultrasound, can help alleviate spinal discomfort.
Pay attention to your posture and stretch regularly. Move carefully, with intention and watch for signs your spine might need attention.
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At TOC, we have your back and are here if you need us.
(A version of this article was originally published in TOC’s Winter 2018-19 Newsletter.)