Do you have a clinical problem or set of symptoms which will respond well to spinal surgery? Many causes of back pain, neck pain, and other spinal issues can be resolved purely through non-surgical techniques and treatments in a conservative manner — and our Newport Beach neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffrey David Gross always prescribes such an approach as the first course of action in an attempt to reduce pain, improve function, and restore your quality of life. Sometimes, however, when all else fails, it can be time to consider options of surgical procedures which are designed to ease your suffering and improve your ability to function in everyday life. Let’s take a look at the type of problems which may benefit from surgical intervention and the different types of spine surgery used to address those issues.
Why Might You Need Spinal Surgery?
Spinal problems may be acute or chronic in nature. Dislocated and painful vertebral joints, fractured bones, and herniated vertebral discs are all common examples of acute spinal injuries that you might receive in an auto, work, or sports accident. But long-brewing age-related degenerative or posture-related changes in the spinal column can also produce severe, painful symptoms.
Natural aging can lie behind some of these changes. For instance, in the absence of a specific injury, loss of hydration in the spinal discs gradually causes the discs to relax and “bulge” outward and lose their height and ability to provide cushioning function. This situation may uncommonly bother, irritate, or even compress nearby nerve roots and affect the extremities. At the same time, while the discs are undergoing this change, there is additional stress and responsibility placed upon the facet joints, which mobilize and also selectively limit certain motions of the spine. Bulging discs most often do not cause symptoms, but when they do, the problems can be addressed.
A disc may also herniate, which is not technically a “bulge.” Herniations come in three forms: protrusions, extrusions, and free fragments. These problems are more often seen as a result of injury and can more often be associated with involvement of the local nerves. As disc herniations leak bio-chemicals, the local nerves can be irritated. There are can be direct mechanical involvement of the local nerves. Such nerve compression can cause a variety of unpleasant sensations in the extremities, from numbness and pain to strange tingling feelings, as the flow or nerve signals are interrupted. Other causes of nerve compression include bony protrusions (bone spurs), overall spinal canal narrowing (spinal stenosis), and a vertebral misalignment called spondylolisthesis.
While chiropractic adjustments and other techniques may work to deal with the symptoms of these clinical problems, sometimes the issue is so advanced that a more invasive approach becomes necessary. At that point, our Newport Beach neurosurgeon may recommend injections and/or spinal surgery by discussing your customized options with you, personally
Procedures Offered by Our Newport Beach Neurosurgeon
Spinal surgery is a broad category of treatments which includes many different procedures to address a variety of problems. Some of the more common surgeries include:
- Spinal Fusion – A spinal fusion involves securing two or more vertebrae in place so that they will not move painfully. This may be necessary in cases of injury, looseness of the spine called instability, severe spinal degeneration or other painful problems where bone-on-bone friction (and loss of disc and/or ligament function) are involved. Bone grafts and metal hardware (rods, plates, and screws) are most often used to fuse the vertebrae together (by which the bones grow across a space where there had not been bone before)
- Discectomy – A discectomy is the removal of some amount of disc material to assist to help with spinal pain, nerve compression and/or nerve pain. It can be helpful for herniated discs.
- Disc replacement – In some cases, an entire damaged damage can be removed and replaced with an artificial one. This may be a better choice than spinal fusion for some patients.
- Laminectomy/Laminotomy – Laminectomy involves the removal of part of the spinal bone from the rear of the spinal canal. This maneuver increases the space within the spinal canal, and making more room for the nearby nerves, helping to address the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Laminotomy is a similar but less bone removal is required.
- Foraminotomy – This surgery is the specific removal of bone from a small space in the spinal column called the Neural foramen, where a nerve root passes out the spine. The procedure makes more room for a nerve in that area to reduce symptoms in that extremity.
- Vertebroplasty – Vertebroplasty is a surgical procedure aimed at repairing compression fractures in vertebrae. Our Newport Beach neurosurgeon injects a kind of surgical “cement” into the fracture to seal and reinforce the strength and integrity of a spinal vertebral bone.
- Kyphoplasty – Kyphoplasty is similar in most respects to vertebroplasty. It’s used when the bone has not only been fractured but also collapsed and lost some of its height. An inflatable device is fitted into the bone to restore some of the lost height before the bone pieces are cemented together.
Ready to Learn More? Contact Our Newport Beach Spine Surgery Expert
Dr. Jeffrey David Gross is happy to help you understand your spine problems and any treatment issues. Contact our Newport Beach spine surgery expert today to schedule a consultation or Second Opinion!