On this page, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about spinal surgery and other back pain treatments. We regularly update our FAQs, but if you don’t find what you are looking for, just ask one of our spine experts by calling 727-MY-SPINE.
Q: Which part of the spine is the most flexible, and why?
Conservative Back Pain Treatments
Q: What does “conservative treatment” mean?
Physical therapy, chiropractic care, and over-the-counter pain medications are among the most common first line treatments which can help manage or improve your back condition. Other complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments that may be recommended are acupuncture, massage and even yoga.
If pain and physical limitations persist after three to six months of conservative care, your doctor may recommend a course of epidural spinal injections (steroid shots) or other pain management treatment.
The bad news is, it may take up to a year to find an effective way to stop your back pain. The good news, however, is that up to 90% of spinal problems can be resolved without surgery. For more information on Inspired Spine’s conservative therapy protocols, please refer to our non-surgical Back Pain Treatments.
Q: What does Complementary and Alternative Medicine refer to?
- If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”
- If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”
In reality, most people in the US who use non-mainstream approaches use them along with conventional treatments and the two approaches are becoming more integrated into our healthcare system.
Q: What is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
Q: What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy uses very high frequency sound waves to focus energy on soft tissue deep within your body. The resulting heat increases blood flow, reduces inflammation and promotes healing. What’s more, therapeutic ultrasound is quite painless and doesn’t require any needles or incisions. All that’s needed is to apply a jelly-like substance to the skin area to prevent friction as the ultrasound device gently massages the affected area of your back.
Diagnosing Back Pain
Q: What is a discogram?
Here’s how a discogram works: using a fluoroscope (a video x-ray machine) as a guide, the doctor injects the suspect discs with a dye, one at a time. The dye increases the pressure on the disc and surrounding nerves, making a bad situation worse. In short, getting the diseased disc to cry out in pain.
Q: Why is a discogram necessary?
You see, an MRI or CT scan doesn’t always get the whole picture. Or course, they can accurately spot degenerated or herniated discs, bone spurs, osteoarthritis and many other visible signs of spinal disease. However, these are merely anatomical signs of wear and tear that commonly show up as we age. In fact, degenerated disc disease is so common that it’s found in 90% of people over 65. Most cases don’t cause any back pain at all, and fewer than 10% need surgery.
So, in order to treat the pain, and not the anatomy, a discogram may be required to ensure that any subsequent treatment or surgery addresses the true source of your pain.
Q: What causes pressure on the cervical spinal cord?
Q: What is OPLL?
Q: What is the Oswestry scale?
The questionnaire covers ten topics of everyday life ranging from intensity of pain to social life and sleep quality. Patients are given different scenarios on each topic that indicate varying degrees of disability and asked to check the one that most closely resembles what they are experiencing or feeling. Each question is then scored to obtain a disability index.
Q: Why am I asked to rate my pain at every visit?
Q: What is Subluxation?
Keyhole Back Surgery
Q: What is keyhole spine surgery?
Q: How is keyhole spine surgery performed?
Q: How is fluoroscopy used in keyhole spine surgery?
Fluoroscopy is something like an x-ray movie. Radiographic C-shaped arms, called C-arms, provide a 360-degree view of the spine and the entire procedure in real time. With these highly magnified images projected on monitors, the surgeon has full view of his instruments as he works around the nerves and structures of the spine at all times—better than the view in direct visualization. In this way, the procedure can be guided more accurately, without damaging back muscles or surrounding tissue.
Q: What are the advantages of keyhole spine surgery?
- Have less bleeding and a reduced risk of infection and complications
- Have a shorter hospital stay – or go home same day
- Have less pain from the operation
- Recover faster and get back to your normal activities sooner
- Have a smaller scar
While all patients can benefit from the advantages of keyhole spine surgery, for some it can be literally be a life-saver. Most elderly patients with adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS), for example, could not endure a 4- to 5-hour open spinal fusion operation—nor the lengthy or demanding rehabilitation process it requires. Keyhole spine surgery, with its low risk, low surgical trauma and easier, faster recovery process, is the only surgical option for patients like these.