Conditions & Treatments

It’s about Feeling Better.

When you have neck or back pain, everyday activities and life become painful. Do not feel alone. Eight out of ten people experience back pain at some point in their lives.

David Rouben, MD offers his patients a specialized approach to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of spine conditions. Dr. Rouben works in conjunction with your primary care physicians and other medical specialists to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

Acute & Chronic Back & Neck Pain

Nearly everyone experiences back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. Chances are you’ve probably felt that dull aching, sharp pain or tingling or burning sensation in your lower back muscles. You may have even had pain or weakness in your leg, hip or the bottom of your foot, depending on the cause of your pain, which may include:

  • Strain or tears to the muscles or surrounding tissues supporting the back
  • Disc damage, such as herniated discs or bulging discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia
  • Small fractures to the spine from osteoporosis

Adult Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a lateral curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine shows a mild roundness in the upper back and inward curvature of the lower back.

The most common type of scoliosis is idiopathic; it is present at birth and may be inherited. Other types include neuromuscular scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis usually affects those ages 10-16, progressing during the growth years. Some clues that a child may have scoliosis include uneven shoulders, a prominent shoulder blade, uneven waist, or leaning to one side.

Diagnosis includes a bone exam and an X-ray to evaluate the magnitude of the curve. Treatment for scoliosis includes back braces, and in more severe cases, surgery that involves joining the vertebrae together permanently (spinal fusion).

Scoliosis in adults may be caused by trauma, may have been present since birth, or may be considered idiopathic scoliosis, which has no identifiable cause. Though there are theories as to why people develop idiopathic scoliosis, none have been proven conclusively.

Doctors recommend surgery for those with more than a 50 percent curve, but this does not typically straighten the spine. Instead, it helps to keep the scoliosis from worsening.

Compression fractures

Most of the time, compression fractures in your back — small breaks in bones caused by osteoporosis — heal on their own in about 3 months. But you might need surgery if you’re in a lot of pain and can’t get relief from medicine, a back brace, or rest. Dr. Rouben also might suggest surgery to prevent your broken bones from damaging nearby nerves.

Types of Surgery

Two common operations are called vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Your surgeon puts cement into your broken bones to help keep your spine stable. It’s done through a small opening so you’ll heal faster.

Another option is spinal fusion surgery. Your surgeon “welds” some of your bones together to strengthen them.

What happens during surgery?

If you have vertebroplasty, your surgeon uses a needle to inject cement into the damaged bones.

In kyphoplasty, he first puts a small balloon into the bone and inflates it to raise the spine up. Then he removes the balloon and puts cement into the space left behind.

In spinal fusion, your doctor puts in screws, plates, or rods to hold your bones in place until they join together.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease happens gradually and is a normal part of aging. Degenerative changes in the spine often cause loss of normal structure and/or function. Each movement of the spine can contribute to wear and tear, and, over time, these daily stresses and minor injuries can accumulate without you even being aware or feeling pain. Eventually, the disc begins to degenerate.

As the disc space collapses and loses height, stability can be lost and the nerves housed in the spinal canal can become compressed. It is important to remember that disc degeneration is part of the natural process of aging and does not necessarily lead to chronic lower back pain.

Bone spurs, sometimes called osteophytes, may begin to form around the disc space. This may be the body’s response to try to stop damaging movement. The spurs can become a problem if they start to grow into the spinal canal and press on nerves or the spinal cord. This condition is called spinal stenosis and, many times, accompanies degenerative disc disease.

Degenerative Joint Diseases of the Spine

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is a condition in which the protective cartilage that cushions the tops of bones degenerates, or wears down. This causes swelling and pain. It may also cause the development of osteophytes, or bone spurs.

What Is Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Osteoarthritis of the spine is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back.

Sometimes, osteoarthritis produces spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column. This can cause weakness and pain in the arms or legs.

Who Gets Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

In general, osteoarthritis happens as people get older. Younger people may get it from one of several different causes:

  • injury or trauma to a joint
  • a genetic defect involving cartilage

For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often among people who are overweight. It also occurs more frequently in those who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Osteoarthritis of the spine may cause stiffness or pain in the neck or back. It may also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.

Some people experience little interference with the activities of their lives. Others become more severely disabled.

In addition to the physical effects, a person with osteoarthritis might also experience social and emotional problems. For instance, a person with osteoarthritis that hinders daily activities and job performance might feel depressed or helpless.

Sciatica

Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When something injures or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip, buttocks, and leg. Up to 90% of people recover from sciatica without surgery.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The most common symptom of sciatica is lower back pain that extends through the hip and buttock and down one leg. The pain usually affects only one leg and may get worse when you sit, cough, or sneeze. The leg may also feel numb, weak, or tingly at times. The symptoms of sciatica tend to appear suddenly and can last for days or weeks.

Up to 85% of Americans experience some type of back pain during their lives. But this doesn’t always involve the sciatic nerve. In many cases, back pain is the result of overextending or straining the muscles in the lower back. What most often sets sciatica apart is the way the pain radiates down the leg and into the foot. It may feel like a bad leg cramp that lasts for days.

Who Gets Sciatica?

Most people who get sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. Women may be more likely to develop the problem during pregnancy because of pressure on the sciatic nerve from the developing uterus. Other causes include a herniated disk and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Adult Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (called neural foramina) where spinal nerves leave the spinal column.

Spinal Stenosis Causes and Risk Factors

Spinal stenosis usually occurs as a person ages and the disks become drier and start to bulge. At the same time, the bones and ligaments of the spine thickens or grow larger due to arthritis or long-term swelling (inflammation). Lumbar spinal stenosis may also be caused by:

  • Arthritis of the spine, usually in middle-aged or elderly people
  • Bone diseases, such as Paget’s disease of bone and achondroplasia
  • Defect or growth in the spine that was present from birth (congenital defect)
  • Herniated or slipped disk, which often happened in the past
  • Injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord
  • Tumors in the spine

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Often, symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis will get worse slowly over time. Typically, symptoms will be on one side of the body or the other, but may involve both legs.

Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness, cramping, or pain in the back, buttocks, thighs, or calves, or in the neck, shoulders or arms
  • Weakness of part of a leg or arm

Symptoms are more likely to be present or get worse when you stand or walk. They will often lessen or disappear when you sit down or lean forward. Most people with lumbar spinal stenosis cannot walk for a long period of time. Patients with spinal stenosis may be able to ride a bicycle with little pain.

Degenerative joint diseases of the spine

Degenerative spine conditions involve the gradual loss of normal structure and function of the spine over time. They are usually caused by aging, but may also be the result of tumors, infections or arthritis. Pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots caused by degeneration can be caused by: Slipped or herniated discs.

Causes

This process also causes the discs to flatten over time, reducing the amount of space between the vertebrae. Pain associated with degenerative disc disease can be inflammatory and/or mechanical. Inflammatory pain is caused by the release of chemicals in the nucleus that irritate nerve endings in the annulus fibrosus.

Treatments

The primary goals of all degenerative tissue disease/osteoarthritis or arthritis treatments are to lower inflammation/swelling, control pain, improve mobility andjoint function, help maintain a healthy weight so you put less pressure on fragile joints, and to improve your mood — so you’re better able to get back to a more functional life.

Degenerative Joint Diseases of the Back

Degenerative joint disease is a common cause of low back pain. The lumbar facet joints, like other synovial joints of the body, are susceptible to wear and tear, degeneration, inflammation and arthritic changes.

Degenerative Disc Disease

These changes combine to cause degenerative disc disease and its symptoms. DDD begins with changes in your intervertebral discs, but eventually it will affect the other motion segments of the spine, such as the facet joints. … Additionally, water-attracting molecules—and hence water—in the disc decreases.

Herniated Discs in the Neck

When you have pain in your neck or upper back that you’ve never felt before, you might have a herniated cervical disk.

While it might sound worrisome, it is not an uncommon health problem as you age. In fact, you could often have one without any symptoms.

Learn more about your cervical disks, what can cause one to become damaged, the symptoms, and when to call your doctor.

Your Spine and Cervical Disks

It helps if you first learn a little about your spine, how it’s constructed, and where your cervical disks are found.

Your spinal column is made up of bones called vertebrae. They hold you upright. They also surround and protect your spinal cord, which looks like a tube with fluid running through the middle. It stretches from your brain to the bottom of your spine.

In between the vertebrae are spongy cushions called disks. They act like shock absorbers for your regular movements, as well as jumping, running, and other activities that put wear and tear on your body.

Your spine has three main segments, top to bottom:

  • Cervical
  • Thoracic
  • Lumbar

The top seven vertebrae in your spine are the cervical vertebrae. The cervical area of your spinal cord also contains nerves that connect to your arms, hands, and upper body.

Cervical disks cushion the cervical vertebrae. They also connect the vertebrae to each other so you can bend and twist your neck and back.

What Does ‘Herniated’ Mean?

The disks between vertebrae contain a gel-like substance in the center of them. The outer part of a disk is made up of fibrous cartilage that keeps the gel contained.

When the outer part gets tears or splits, the gel can poke out. This is what it means for a disk to become herniated.

A herniated disk is also called a “ruptured disk” or a “slipped disk.” You can think of it like a jelly doughnut whose filling has squirted out.

Causes

It can be hard to figure out exactly what causes a herniated cervical disk. It often comes on slowly with no clear cause. But sometimes the reason can be narrowed down to:

  • Age. A disk can be more prone to herniating because of wear and tear. When we’re young, our disks have a lot of water in them. But over time as we get older, the amount of water decreases. Less water in the disks means they can become less flexible. And that means when you move, twist, or turn, the chance of it rupturing, or herniating, is greater. In older people, they can rupture with less force.
  • Genetics. Herniated disks also can run in families.
  • Movement. Sudden, jarring motions can cause one.
  • Sudden strain. If you lift a heavy object or turn or twist your upper body too quickly, you can damage a disk.

Symptoms

A herniated cervical disk is one of the most common causes of neck pain. If the disk is pressing on a nerve root, other symptoms can include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a shoulder or arm that may go down to your fingers
  • Weakness in a hand or arm

If it presses on your spinal cord, you can have more serious symptoms, including:

  • Stumbling or awkward walking
  • Tingling or a shock-like feeling running down your body into your legs
  • Problems using your hands and arms for fine motor skills
  • Loss of balance and coordination

Herniated Discs in the Back

The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by round, flat discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep spine flexible. If they become damaged, they may bulge abnormally or break open (rupture), in what is called a herniated or slipped disc. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine, but they are most common in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) spine. The seven vertebrae between the head and the chest make up the cervical spine.

What causes cervical disc herniation?

A herniated disc usually is caused by wear and tear of the disc (also called disc degeneration). As we age, our discs lose some of the fluid that helps them stay flexible. A herniated disc also may result from injuries to the spine, which may cause tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer (annulus or capsule) of the disc. The jellylike material (nucleus) inside the disc may be forced out through the tears or cracks in the capsule, which causes the disc to bulge, break open (rupture), or break into fragments.

How is it treated?

In most cases, cervical herniated discs are first treated with nonsurgical treatment, including rest or modified activities, medicines to relieve pain and inflammation, and exercises, as recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend that you see a physical therapist to learn how to do exercises and protect your neck, and perhaps for other treatment such as traction. Traction is gentle, steady pulling on the head to stretch the neck and allow the small joints between the neck bones to spread a little. If symptoms continue, your doctor may try stronger medicine such as corticosteroids. Symptoms usually improve over time. But if the herniated disc is squeezing your spinal cord or nerves and/or you are having weakness, constant pain, or decreased control of your bladder or bowels, surgery will be considered. In rare cases, an artificial disc may be used to replace the disc that is removed.

Pinched Nerves /Numbness of Arms & Legs

Nerves extend from your brain and spinal cord, sending important messages throughout your body. If you have a pinched nerve (nerve compression) your body may send you warning signals such as pain. Don’t ignore these warning signals.

Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe. It may cause temporary or long-lasting problems. The earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment for nerve compression, the more quickly you’ll find relief.

In some cases, you can’t reverse the damage from a pinched nerve. But treatment usually relieves pain and other symptoms.

Causes of Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a nerve.

The pressure may be the result of repetitive motions. Or it may happen from holding your body in one position for long periods, such as keeping elbows bent while sleeping.

Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as:

  • Ligament
  • Tendon
  • Bone

For example, inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm (cervical radiculopathy). Or pain may radiate into the leg and foot (lumbar radiculopathy or sciatic nerve pain).

These symptoms may result from changes that develop in the spine’s discs and bones. For example, if a disc weakens or tears — known as a herniated disc — pressure can get put on a spinal nerve.

Nerve compression in your neck or arm may also cause symptoms in areas such as your:

  • Elbow
  • Hand
  • Wrist
  • Fingers

This can lead to conditions such as:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow

If nerve compression lasts a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve may break down. Fluid may build up, which may cause:

  • Swelling
  • Extra pressure
  • Scarring

The scarring may interfere with the nerve’s function.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerves

With nerve compression, sometimes pain may be your only symptom. Or you may have other symptoms without pain.

These are some of the more common symptoms of compressed nerves:

  • Pain in the area of compression, such as the neck or low back
  • Radiating pain, such as sciatica or radicular pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • “Pins and needles” or a burning sensation
  • Weakness, especially with certain activities

Sometimes symptoms worsen when you try certain movements, such as turning your head or straining your neck.

Treatment for Pinched Nerves

How long it takes for symptoms to end can vary from person to person. Treatment varies, depending on the severity and cause of the nerve compression.

You may find that you benefit greatly from simply resting the injured area and by avoiding any activities that tend to worsen your symptoms. In many cases, that’s all you need to do.

If symptoms persist or pain is severe, see your doctor. You may need one or more types of treatment to shrink swollen tissue around the nerve.

In more severe cases, it may be necessary to remove material that’s pressing on a nerve, such as:

  • Scar tissue
  • Disc material
  • Pieces of bone

Treatment may include:

  • NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen may reduce swelling.
  • Oral corticosteroids. These are used to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Narcotics. These are used for brief periods to reduce severe pain.
  • Steroid injections. These injections may reduce swelling and allow inflamed nerves to recover.
  • Physical therapy. This will help stretch and strengthen muscles.
  • Splint. A splint or soft collar limits motion and allows muscles to rest for brief periods.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be needed for more severe problems that don’t respond to other types of treatment.
  • Work with your doctor to find the best approach for treating your symptoms.

Sacro-Illiac Joint Disease (SI)

Thank your scaroiliac (SI) joints every time you stand up straight. These two joints work hard; they connect your spine to your pelvis, support your upper body, and act as a shock absorber. Yet they don’t get much attention —that is, until they start to hurt.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain Symptoms

When you have sacroiliac joint disease, you are likely to have pain in your leg, buttocks, groin, or lower back. The pain can occur when you stand up, walk, sit, or sleep. In short, SI joint pain can make you miserable.

Normal wear and tear of the joint, trauma, and inflammation can lead to painful walking, sitting, sleeping, getting in and out of a car, and other activities.

Conditions Causing Sacroiliac Joint Disease

Sacroiliac joint disease typically results from one of two conditions:

  • Inflammation of the SI joint, called “degenerative sacroiliitis”
  • Too much or too little motion in the SI joint, known as “sacroiliac joint disruption”

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor will determine whether you have sacroiliac joint disease by reviewing your medical history, taking x-rays, and reviewing the results from other tests you have completed. Sometimes doctors make a definitive diagnosis through treatment. Doctors may also perform a series of provocative tests.

NONSURGICAL TREATMENTS

Often doctors will recommend starting with a nonsurgical treatment, such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic medicine
  • Medications
  • Injections

Surgical Treatments

If physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, medications, or injections don’t help, your doctor may recommend that you consider surgery to stabilize your sacroiliac joint through fusion (joining bones together into one solid structure). SI joint fusion surgery with the Rialto™ SI fusion system is a minimally invasive surgery. You and your medical team can decide if surgery is a good option to treat your sacroiliac joint disease.

The best treatment for you depends on your unique situation. Discuss treatment options with your doctor or contact Dr. Rouben today.

Spine injuries & Diseases

Your backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bone discs called vertebrae. The vertebrae protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand and bend. A number of problems can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue. They include:

  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Tumors
  • Conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis and scoliosis
  • Bone changes that come with age, such as spinal stenosis and herniated disks

Spinal diseases often cause pain when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. They can also limit movement. Treatments differ by disease, but sometimes they include back braces and surgery.

You and your doctor will need to discuss the appropriate treatment plan right for you. Contact us today to Get Started.

Spinal Deformities

The normal spine is structurally balanced for optimal flexibility and support of the body’s weight. When viewed from the side, it has three gentle curves. The lumbar (lower) spine has an inward curve called lordosis. The thoracic (middle) spine has an outward curve called kyphosis. The cervical spine (spine in the neck) also has a lordosis. These curves work in harmony to keep the body’s center of gravity aligned over the hips and pelvis. When viewed from behind, the normal spine is straight.

Abnormal curvature in the spine can put it out of alignment. Abnormal curvature seen from the side is called sagittal imbalance. Types of sagittal imbalance include kyphosis, syndrome i, and chin-on-chest syndrome. Abnormal curvature of the spine seen from the back is called scoliosis.

Each of these conditions can arise for a variety of reasons, including congenital deformity (deformity present at birth), age-related degeneration, disease processes like tumors or infections, other conditions, or idiopathic causes (causes that are not yet understood).

Signs and Symptoms

Signs are observable indications of a condition. Signs can be seen or felt by people other than the patient. Signs of scoliosis may include a difference in shoulder or hip height, a difference in the way the arms hang beside the body, a spine that is visibly off-center, or a head that appears off-center with the body. Signs of sagittal imbalance may include a stooped forward posture, a hump in the back, or an inability to stand up straight.

Symptoms can be felt by the person with the condition. Symptoms of scoliosis vary: most cases of infantile, juvenile and adolescent scoliosis, for example, produce no symptoms. Degenerative scoliosis is often accompanied by pain. Symptoms of sagittal imbalance range from mild discomfort to severe pain. Spinal deformities also have the capacity to interfere with the spinal cord or nerve roots. Stretch or compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots produces symptoms that may include pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling that travel down an arm or a leg.

Your Best Solution is to contact us today so that we may better assess your condition.

Treatment of the Aging Spine

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is a condition in which the protective cartilage that cushions the tops of bones degenerates, or wears down. This causes swelling and pain. It may also cause the development of osteophytes, or bone spurs.

What Is Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Osteoarthritis of the spine is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back. Sometimes, osteoarthritis produces spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column. This can cause weakness and pain in the arms or legs.

Who Gets Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

In general, osteoarthritis happens as people get older. Younger people may get it from one of several different causes:

  • injury or trauma to a joint
  • a genetic defect involving cartilage

For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often among people who are overweight. It also occurs more frequently in those who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Osteoarthritis of the spine may cause stiffness or pain in the neck or back. It may also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.

Some people experience little interference with the activities of their lives. Others become more severely disabled. In addition to the physical effects, a person with osteoarthritis might also experience social and emotional problems. For instance, a person with osteoarthritis that hinders daily activities and job performance might feel depressed or helpless.

How Is Osteoarthritis of the Spine Diagnosed?

The best way to confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis is by X-ray. The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam to see if the person has pain, tenderness, loss of motion involving the neck or lower back, or if symptoms are suggestive, signs of nerve involvement such as weakness, reflex changes, or loss of sensation.

The doctor may order certain tests to aid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. These tests include:

  • X-rays to look for bone damage, bone spurs, and loss of cartilage or disc; however, X-rays are not able to show early damage to cartilage.
  • Blood tests to exclude other diseases
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas where spinal nerves exit

How Is Osteoarthritis of the Spine Treated?

In most cases, treatment of spinal osteoarthritis is geared toward relieving the symptoms of pain and increasing a person’s ability to function. The goal is to have a healthy lifestyle.

Initial treatment may include losing weight if needed and then, for everyone, maintaining a healthy weight. It may also include exercise. Besides helping with weight management, exercise can also help:

  • increase flexibility
  • improve attitude and mood
  • strengthen the heart
  • improve blood flow
  • make it easier to do daily tasks

Some of the exercises associated with osteoarthritis treatment include swimming, walking, and water aerobics. Exercise may be broken down into the following categories:

  • Strengthening exercises. These exercises seek to make muscles that support the joints stronger. They work through resistance with the use of weights or rubber bands.
  • Aerobic exercises. These are exercises that make the heart and circulatory system stronger.
  • Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises increase the body’s flexibility.

Including rest periods in the overall treatment plan is necessary. But bed rest, splints, bracing, or traction for long periods of time is not recommended.

There are non-drug treatments available for osteoarthritis, including:

  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • heat or cold compresses, which refers to placing ice or heated compresses onto the affected joint (check with your doctor about which option, or which combination of heat and cold options, is best for you.)
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) using a small device that emits electrical pulses onto the affected area
  • nutritional supplements

Your Best Option is to contact a medical professional for a proper evaluation.

Get Your Life Back.
Call today for your personalized Evaluation & Treatment Plan: 502-653-7444

Am I a Possible Candidate for Spine Surgery?

Still in Pain after extended nonsurgical or conservative treatment? You may need to consider spine surgery as a treatment for back pain. You may also need to consider surgery if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

  • Do you lean over the grocery cart for support while shopping?
  • Do you have pain in your back or tingling and numbness in your extremities?
  • Have you tried nonsurgical treatments such as massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture or chiropractic care without relief?
  • Has your physician recommended back surgery?
  • Have you had open back surgery but are still experiencing pain?

Spine surgery as a treatment for back pain

Dr. Rouben may recommend traditional spine surgery or minimal access spine surgery as a treatment for back pain if you haven’t found significant relief through conservative care. We encourage you to research all of your options before having open neck or back surgery. Unlike open neck or back surgery, our minimally invasive outpatient procedures offer less risk of complication, reduced risk of infection and shorter recovery time, when compared to the hospital stays associated with traditional open spine surgery.

What Are the Benefits?

Often, the result is more than just a decrease in pain. You may find:

  • You can move around better.
  • You’re more physically fit.
  • Your mood improves.
  • You don’t need to take as much pain medicine.
  • You can go back to work.
  • You’re more productive at work.

Are There Risks?

Most people who get back surgery have no complications. Any operation will have some degree of risk, including:

  • Reaction to anesthesia or other drugs
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots, for instance in your legs or lungs
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Herniated disk
  • Nerve damage, which can lead to weakness, paralysis, pain, sexual dysfunction, or loss of bowel or bladder control

Patients who have the following pre-existing conditions are also at higher risk for complications during spine surgery:

  • Morbid Obesity (BMI 40 or greater)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pre surgical neural damage
  • Multiple surgical interventions to the same level(s) over a 2 year period
  • Chronic pain for over two years without any surgical intervention during that time
  • Cardiac, pulmonary, kidney, and auto-immune diseases
  • Recurrent infections of the skin or operative wound such as MRSA