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The spine is a multi-faceted complex structure consisting of four main sections (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacrum) as well as the tailbone, known as the coccyx. There are a total of 26 vertebrae that work together to connect the skull to the pelvis and limbs. These vertebrae are important in protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots that ultimately control almost every volitional movement in your body.
Because of the spine’s immediate connection to the pelvis and limbs, it is responsible for providing a stabilizing anchor for the rest of the body. This, at times, causes a great deal of stress on the spine which can result in injury and pain. This pain can be related to a muscular strain, issue with a vertebrae/joint or disc, or in relation to compression on the spinal cord or nerve root that may refer pain to a different area of your body like an arm or leg.
Our team at Baptist Health Neurosurgery Arkansas is specialty-trained in treating conditions of the spine including developmental anomalies, trauma, degenerative/arthritic changes in the spine, tumors of the spine, infections of the spine and some rheumatologic diseases of the spine. Our goal is to help our patients overcome their spine problems and reclaim their quality of life.
Many of the diseases that we treat are listed below.
There are many different tests used to look for conditions of the spine related to your pain or disability. The simplest of these is a plain X-ray that is routinely done in office. An X-ray is an informative overview of your spine alignment and may easily diagnose degenerative and traumatic conditions of the spine. Depending on these findings and your symptoms, many clinicians move forward with an additional study which may include one or more of the following:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – this is the most common test after X-ray which provides us with a detailed picture of the soft tissues of the spine, including the disc and supportive ligaments. Additionally, it provides us with a great detail of the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots as they move through the spine.
Computed tomography (CT) scan – uses X-ray to provide a detailed 3D image of the spine. The primary use of a CT scan is to look at the bone and joint structure of the spine.
Myelography / post myelogram CT – This study is performed by injecting a contrast dye into the spinal column and taking several X-rays and, usually, a CT scan. This is often done to look for spinal cord compression or nerve root compression in patients that are unable to have an MRI.
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study – tests the electrical activity of a nerve root to help determine the cause of pain.
The most common treatment of spine issues consists of conservative measures of care including:
Without response to the above conservative measures, more invasive treatments may be recommended which include:
Epidural steroid injections
Occasionally, if improvement is not achieved with conservative spine care or spine injections, surgery will be recommended to help treat your spine condition. The type of surgical intervention performed is tailored specifically to each patient and dependent on their symptoms, physical exam and findings on imaging studies. Your surgeon should discuss these options in detail if surgery is necessary in treating your spine issues.