The spinal column plays a vital role in supporting the skeleton and protecting the sensitive spinal cord that connects the brain to the rest of the body. As we age, our spines endure wear and tear on a daily basis in addition to the gradual loss of moisture in the spinal discs, which serve as shock absorbing cushions between each of the 33 vertebrae. It is no wonder then that many adults experience back pain and may even develop disc diseases, such as degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, or hernias. Each of these conditions present their own complications and effects on a person’s health and also require specific forms of medical care in order to heal properly.
If you are suffering from pain in your spine or back, it is important that you get a comprehensive evaluation from an experienced orthopedic and neurological spine surgeon. At ProMed SPINE, Todd Gravori, MD, and his team of board-certified neurosurgeons specialize in offering the latest minimally invasive spine procedures and therapies to alleviate and repair painful spinal disc conditions. To learn more about our services and to schedule a consultation, please call us at 888-75-SPINE.
Understanding Disc Diseases
In order to diagnose and create a customized treatment plan for your spinal disc condition, it will be necessary to have a physical exam and full history conducted by an exceptional spine surgeon, like those at ProMed SPINE. Diagnostic tests, such as MRI, X-rays, or a CT scan, may be necessary as well. The most common medical conditions that may affect the health and functionality of your spine include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Degenerative Disc Disease – Healthy spinal discs contain about 80% water, but begin to lose moisture and dry over time, which can cause the intervertebral cushion to degenerate, leading to degenerative disc disease. Without proper shock absorption, the outer layer (annulus) of the disc may pinch and tear, causing pain and/or forcing the disc to bulge.
- Herniated Disc – When the annulus of the spinal disc is damaged, the soft material at the center, known as nucleus pulposus, bursts out of the disc. In some cases, the nucleus pulposus can put pressure on the spinal cord, cutting off the connection between the body below that area of the spine with the brain, resulting in paralysis. This may occur due to weakened discs, a sudden fall, or trying to carry something that is too heavy. When diagnosed in the neck, a herniated disc is known as a cervical disc hernia, in the mid-to-upper back it is a thoracic disc hernia, and in the lower back it is a lumbar disc hernia.
- Disc Bulges – Similar to a herniated disc, a bulging disc occurs when the spinal disc itself bulges out between the vertebrae without rupturing. Unlike a herniated disc, a disc bulge is not necessarily serious and may not cause pain. This may be caused by age, personal injury, or even weakened discs from smoking tobacco.
- Disc Annular Tear– When the annulus or outer fibers of the intervertebral disc tears without causing the inner material to rupture. The tear may heal and form a scar. However, the scar tissue is weaker than the annulus and may be prone to tearing again.
- Intraforaminal Disc Hernia – When a disc bulges or herniates near where the spinal nerves branch out from the spinal cord to the rest of the body, it can cause severe pain and interfere with the nerves. It is crucial to have an intraforaminal disc hernia evaluated and treated as soon as possible.
Treatment Options for Spinal Diseases
At ProMed SPINE, we begin treatment of any disc degeneration, hernia or bulge with conservative or non-operative therapies at first, reserving surgery as a last option. It is possible to relieve back pain caused by disc conditions with physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, or muscle relaxants and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications.
If conservative treatment options are not effective, our spinal and neurosurgeon specialists are proud to offer cutting-edge, minimally-invasive surgical options that require extensive experience and skill to perform. These include replacing the disc with an artificial disc, spinal fusion using a bone graft to stabilize the spine, or percutaneous discectomy, in which a portion of the disc is removed with a laser procedure.
Contact a Beverly Hills Spine Surgeon
The Los Angeles-based practice of ProMed SPINE specializes in providing state-of-the-art, comprehensive, and customized care for individuals suffering from spinal diseases and conditions. As renowned neurosurgeons and leading experts in minimally invasive spine surgery, the team at ProMed SPINE offers the most advanced and effective treatments available in order to relieve severe, persistent pain caused by spinal degeneration or injury.
To learn more and schedule an initial consultation with our surgeons, please call 888-75-SPINE or fill out our online contact form.
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