Back and neck pain are, unfortunately, familiar problems for many people. Herniated discs are one of the most common conditions, but it’s not the only issue that can cause discomfort and difficulty performing certain activities. Spinal stenosis is another prevalent disorder that often affects people over the age of 50. Our board certified orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Dolphin, treats individuals with spinal stenosis regularly, and there are a number of non-surgical and minimally invasive options available to address this concern.
Often caused by spinal arthritis, spinal stenosis is a condition wherein the spinal canal – the opening that runs through the center of the spinal column – narrows. This contraction is often due to thickened ligaments and bone spurs, which can develop as a complication of arthritis. When the spinal canal becomes smaller, the spinal cord and nerve roots can become pinched, leading to radiating pain in one or both legs (or arms, if affecting the neck), neck or low back pain, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.
Over-the-counter pain medication and physical therapy may provide relief of the symptoms, but currently there is no cure for spinal stenosis. Minimally invasive techniques, such as laminotomy, laminectomy, discectomy, and fusion, may be recommended for certain patients who find non-surgical treatment ineffective. Dr. Dolphin can develop a customized treatment plan that best addresses your concerns during your initial consultation.
If you’re experiencing back pain and considering an operation, the type of spinal surgery your physician recommends will depend on the condition you were diagnosed with. Having said that, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and some other back concerns often have some overlapping treatment techniques. It’s important to understand all your available options, as well as the risks and benefits of each, before making a final decision. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Dolphin, can help you determine which approach is best for your needs during your initial consultation.
Laminotomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes a small section of the lamina bone, which is located on the back part of each vertebra, to alleviate nerve compression. Dr. Dolphin performs a minimally invasive technique for this and other spinal surgeries.
Laminectomy: In this procedure, the entire lamina is removed to provide greater room for the nerves. Again, a minimally invasive technique is often used, as it can allow for faster healing. In many cases this treatment may leave the spine less stable, so it’s often accompanied by a fusion.
Foraminotomy: In this procedure, bone is removed on the sides of one or more vertebrae to widen the space where the nerves leave the spine. As with a laminectomy, a fusion may be performed at the same time to maintain the stability of the spine.
Discectomy: In this procedure, the material protruding from a bulging or ruptured disc (cushion between the vertebrae) is removed to reduce pressure on the nerve or spinal cord. The remaining disc is left intact to maintain function. Both traditional open and minimally invasive (microdiscectomy) techniques can be performed.
Fusion: In this procedure, the affected disc will be removed to alleviate pressure on the nerve and/or spinal cord. Afterwards, the structure and stability of the spine will be maintained by a combination of plates, screws, and donated bone tissue.
Disc Replacement: In this procedure, the affected disc will be removed and replaced with an artificial disc, typically comprised of metal and polymer. Unlike in a fusion, this often allows the patient to maintain movement in the area once healed.
Every treatment plan at our practie is customized to best suit the patient’s individual needs. For more information, please reach out to our skilled medical team with any questions.
As one of the most common causes of neck and back pain, many people are curious to know if their discomfort is due to a herniated disc. This condition can develop due to many reasons, including injury and wear and tear over time. Fortunately, in many cases a herniated disc can often be effectively treated at our practice using non-surgical methods. In the event a surgical approach is recommended, our board certified orthopaedic surgeon, Michael Dolphin, DO, is trained in the latest techniques to optimize your results.
Sciatica, one of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc, feels like numbness or pain shooting down one or both legs (or arms, if it stems from a herniated disc in the neck). It’s often described as feeling like a shock of electricity. Weakness and tingling may also be felt in these areas. If the ruptured disc is located in the neck (cervical spine), you may also feel a burning sensation in the neck, shoulder, shoulder blade, or arm (on one or both sides).
Pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and epidural steroid injections can often provide significant relief of symptoms. Physical therapy can also reduce pain and improve function, as well as reduce the likelihood of re-injury. For more information about herniated discs and treatment options, we encourage you to speak with our skilled and knowledgeable team.