How can I get relief from my bad back pain?

Sorry to hear about your back and sciatica. The L5-S1 disk is probably pinching your sciatic nerve causing leg pain called sciatica. Lumbar disk surgery may be considered if steroid injections have not relieved the pain. Traditionally lumbar disk surgery was done through a large incision with significant muscle retraction, damage and bone removal to get to the disk. Today most lumbar disk herniations can be removed minimally invasively with the spine endoscope. This outpatient surgery is done with a small camera the size of a pen through an incision the size of your finger nail. Most people have quick relief from their pain and decreased recovery.

Patients are admitted to the hospital or surgery center for same day surgery.  They change into a gown and IV and EKG stickers are placed by the nurse and taken to the preoperative area.  The patient is seen by the surgeon, anesthesia and nursing.  The risks and benefits of surgery are explained to the patient if not already done.  The patient then signs an informed consent sheet verifying they understand the risks and benefits of surgery and want to go ahead with surgery. The patient is then taken into the operating room.  The patient is sedated (called conscious sedation) or put to sleep (general anesthesia) by the anesthesiologist and then position face down onto the operating room bed. The back is cleaned with a disinfectant and then a drape is placed over the patient.  X-ray machine and endoscopic equipment are brought to the bed.  After the surgery is completed the patient is transferred back onto their bed and taken to the recovery room.

For more information on minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), endoscopic spine surgery or laser spine surgery please call Executive Spine Surgery at 908-452-5612 or click on schedule-an-appointment.

Can scoliosis cause chronic back pain?

The spine is made up of a stacked alternating vertebral bodies and disks.  The spine is usually straight on anterior posterior x-ray.  Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine.  The spine may look like a C or S on X-ray. Scoliosis may arise from birth abnormalities where the spine was formed wrong, such as missing half of a vertebrae or from changes resulting from arthritis.  The cause of scoliosis in young people is unknown and is called idopathic even though certain genetic traits have been defined.

Children are commonly screened at school for scoliosis, especially at the time of the growth spurt when the development and progression is most common.  Patients suspected of having scoliosis undergo a history and physical and relevant laboratory investigations.  This may include x-rays, serial x-rays, CT and MRI.  Patients found to have a spinal curvature of greater than 10 degrees are diagnosed as scoliosis.

Scoliosis alters the mechanics of the back and puts significant strain on the vertebral bodies, disks, muscles and even the nerves leading to chronic pain and suffering.

Treatment is complex and requires individualization.  Smaller curvatures are watched while larger curvatures greater then 20 to 30 degrees may require bracing. Surgery is usually reserved for very large curvatures greater then 45 to 50 degrees which have high likelihood to progress even more.  Other indications for surgery include pain, weakness, difficult mobilizing and breathing.  Surgery usually involves spinal fusion surgery, this may be done through the front (anterior), side (lateral) or back (posterior) combined with spinal instrumentation (screws and rods).

Overall prognosis of scoliosis depends on the likelihood to progress.  Patients with larger curvatures, thoracic curves, double curves and immature spines (such as adolescents) have higher chance or progressing.

ABOUT DR CARL SPIVAK.

Dr Spivak is a neurosurgeon who specialized in minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery.  He is a well known teacher and speaker in laser spine surgery.  For more information on scoliosis, other spinal disorders or laser spine surgery please call 908-452-5612 or click schedule-an-appointment.

Why do I have a pain in the butt?

Butt pain commonly arises from the sacroiliac joint (SI joint).  This pain is called sacroiliitis.   SI joint pain maybe felt under your jean pocket.    SI joint may cause back, buttock and leg pain. The pain is worse sitting especially on the butt cheek and with activity.

Causes of SI joint pain include arthritis (degenerative sacroiliitis), separation or weakness of the joint (SI joint disruption or laxity), abnormal joint from birth (sacral dysgenesis), inflammation and swelling (ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)), break or fracture, infection, bone disease and tumor.

The sacroiliac joint is the located between the spine (sacrum)  and the hips (ilium).  It is a large joint held together by strong muscles and ligaments.

SI joint pain can be difficult to diagnose and often is associated with spinal disease.  SI joint pain can be diagnosed by careful history, physical examination and diagnostic injections.  A needle is placed into the joint under x-ray or CT scan and steroid and pain medicine is injected.   Pain relief confirms the diagnosis of SI joint pain.

People may benefit from physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicine and steroid injections. Patients who fail conservative treatment may consider fusion surgery.   Fusion surgery “fuses” the sacrum to the ilium to prevent pain.  This is done by surgically placed implants.  Many  people will have coexisting spinal disease requiring spinal surgery.

ABOUT DR. SPIVAK

Dr. Spivak is a neurosurgeon who is fellowship trained in minimally invasive spinal surgery (MISS).  He treats a variety of disorders of the neck, back and SI joints. For more information on spine or SI joint treatment please call 908-452-5612 or click schedule-an-appointment.