At MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, our goal is to relieve your back pain and restore your ability to enjoy your favorite activities. One of the best ways to ensure you get the most successful back and spine treatment is to describe your pain accurately and in detail—where it is, when it starts, what helps to relieve it. This way, our back and spine doctors can understand what you are dealing with. Consider the following questions when thinking about describing your pain to your back and spine specialist:
- When does the pain happen?
- How long does it last? Does the pain come and go? Or is it there all the time?
- Is this pain new? Have you ever had this pain before?
- Does it hurt in more than one place?
- Does it feel like it's on the inside or on the outside of your body?
- Does the pain keep you from doing certain things?
- Does pain interrupt your sleep? Does it change your mood? Affect your appetite?
- What makes the pain better? What makes it worse? What have you tried to relieve the pain?
Once your doctor understands and diagnoses your pain, they can focus on treating your back and spine problems with a combination of these approaches:
- Multidisciplinary collaboration: We combine our expertise with guidance from any other relevant specialists for the most comprehensive care options.
- Conservative management: Whenever possible, we encourage you to try non-surgical options, and focus on resolving your pain with non-surgical options like physical therapy and medication.
- Patient Education: We teach you and your family about your condition and answer all of your questions. We take the time to discuss the possible treatment options and weigh the risks and benefits of each one. Together, we will decide which treatment option will be most appropriate for your needs
Read more about back surgery and the other treatments available from MedStar Orthopaedic Institute physicians.
Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty- Spine/Back Surgery Options
Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are minimally invasive spine surgery procedures used to relieve the pain from a vertebral fracture, especially if it does not improve over a number of weeks with pain medication and treatment with a brace. Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures involve placing cement into the fractured vertebra through small incisions in the skin under x-ray guidance.
Kyphoplasty can also be very helpful when there is the severe collapse of the broken vertebra or wedging. By correcting the wedging, kyphoplasty may help restore the spine to a more normal alignment and prevent severe kyphotic (hunchback) deformity to the spine. In someone who has had multiple fractures with previous wedging, kyphoplasty can prevent further worsening of the deformity.
- A bone cement is injected under pressure directly into the fractured vertebra.
- Once in position, the cement hardens in about 10 minutes, congealing the fragments of the fractured vertebra and providing immediate stability.
- A balloon catheter is guided into the vertebra and inflated with a liquid under pressure.
- As the balloon inflates, it can restore the collapse in the vertebra and correct abnormal wedging of the broken vertebra.
- Once the balloon is maximally inflated, it is deflated and removed, and the large cavity created is filled with bone cement.
- The cement then hardens in place, maintaining any correction of collapse and wedging.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Back and Neck Pain
Different kinds of pain respond to different kinds of treatment. Your doctor or nurse may want to include these non-surgical therapies in your treatment plan:
Epidural steroid injections: Anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications injected into the spinal canal. They're used to decrease swelling and the pain associated with it. Candidates for this procedure suffer from herniated/bulging or degenerated discs.
Epidural lyses of adhesion: Injections of medication at an affected nerve root to dissipate scar tissue and help decrease chronic low back pain.
Facet joint blocks: Anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications injected into a facet joint, which are located on the back of the spine where the vertebrae overlap and help guide the movement of the spine. Patients with degenerative disc disease and increased weight and pressure on the joint will benefit from the procedure.
Nerve root blocks: Injections to relieve pain in the nerves that exist directly off the spinal cord. The nerve that's causing the pain is pinpointed and blocked.
Radio frequency ablation: Heats a nerve to eliminate its function, thereby eliminating the pain triggered by that nerve.
Sacroiliac joint injections: Reduces inflammation and discomfort in the hip joint.
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy: Heats a needle inserted into a painful disk to eliminate the pain receptors there. This procedure can help patients with chronic disc pain who wish to avoid surgery, or for patients whose previous surgery has been unsuccessful.