Neurosurgery is far more than just brain surgery. In fact, most of a neurosurgeon’s time is devoted to the patient’s spine, treating neck pain, back pain, and leg pain. Neurosurgery consists of surgical procedures to treat disorders of the nervous system. By seeing a neurosurgeon, your body’s nervous system is the focus of treatment, used to identify a range of conditions affecting your body. Your neurosurgeon is then able to develop a treatment plan specifically for your condition. At Hunt Spine, we offer the following treatments to our neurosurgery patients:
The neck plays an important role of the body; it gives support to the head and houses arteries that supply blood to the brain from the heart. When neck pain occurs, it is most likely due to a problem in the vertebrae area. The vertebrae that may be affected include:
- Atlas, the first specialized vertebrae at the top of the neck and is the name of the bones that supports the globe of the head. The atlas is partly responsible for the nodding and rotation movements of the head.
- Axis, the second specialized vertebrae at the top of the neck. The axis with the atlas forms the joint that connects the skull and the spin. Unlike other vertebrae, the atlas and axis do not have disks between them and are shaped differently than the other bones of the spine.
- Cervical vertebrae, the seven bones of the upper spine, usually identified by a letter and number (i.e. C-1, C-2, etc.). Together, they make up the bones of the neck.
There are several reasons neck pain can occur, such as aging, disc degeneration, disease, injury or trauma, misalignment of the bones of the neck, and stress. Depending on the cause and the severity, neurosurgical treatment options can range from non-operative to surgical.
When people experience back pain, it is mostly due to muscle strain, injury or spinal deformity. Symptoms of back pain can include ongoing mild to severe pain, soreness, pains extending to the legs, sharp or stabbing pains, or aches and burning pain. Identifying the cause of the pain may be difficult as the pain can develop anywhere from soft tissue to the bones and nerves. Individuals who are at high risk for back pain are those whose employment involves repetitive heavy lifting or vibration from machinery. People who are involved in sports such as off-road bicycling, cross-country skiing, motocross, etc. are also at higher risk of developing back pain. There are many non-surgical options, but when these treatments don’t work, surgery may be the best option.
Sciatica is pain that affects the back, hip and outer leg, and is caused by compression of spinal nerves in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, starting from the lower back and ending at the bottom of the leg. Slipped discs are the cause of painful sciatica in many cases. These discs can lose their strength due to pressure from bad posture, pregnancy, obesity, heavy lifting or twisting. When sciatica pain is overwhelming and has continued for a long period, surgery may be the most effective treatment.
Scoliosis is a curve in the spine that in most cases, does not include pain. Symptoms often occur during the teen years, discovered during a physical exam. Symptoms can include one shoulder appearing higher than the other, clothes that do not hang straight or aching back muscles. Treatment for scoliosis may be minimal if the curvature of the spine does not exceed 20 degrees. However, when the curvature is more than 20 degrees, treatment may include the use of a back brace or surgery.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Contrary to the name, degenerative disc disease is a condition, not a disease. Intervertebral (between the vertebrae) discs can become thinner and degraded, especially as we age, causing them to bulge or rupture. Common symptoms of this condition can include severe episodes of back or neck pain, pain that flares up during physical activity and disappears after rest, extreme numbness and tingling, and weakness in leg muscles. Treatment options range from a non-operative approach to surgery or artificial disc replacement.
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most serious of all types of trauma and occur when the vertebrae are forced out of place by an impact. The impact can pinch or put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves in the damaged area. Other diseases, such as a spinal cord tumor, often put pressure on the spinal cord. Surgery is to treat spinal trauma may be necessary, and include bracing and physical therapy.
Complex Spine Disorders
Multiple spinal conditions, spinal deformities, spinal cord tumors, spinal infections and spinal instability are all complex spine disorders. Multiple disorders can interact together to create back pain and discomfort, and could lead to one or more of these complex spinal disorders. There are a variety of neurosurgical treatment options for complex spine disorders that can help patients find relief.
Knowing if Neurosurgery Treatment is Right for You
At Hunt Spine, we have a team of skilled neurosurgeons practicing in the Los Angeles area who can evaluate if neurosurgery treatment is the right option, based upon each individual case; our goal is to find the best treatment to improve the condition. If you have neck or back pain, sciatica, scoliosis, degenerative disk disease, spinal trauma or a complex spine disorder, your next step is to schedule a consultation from our professional team.