Spinal Conditions

The spinal column extends from the skull to the pelvis and is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae, which protect nerve tissues that makes up the spinal cord (or backbone). Between each vertebra is a band of cartilage called an intervertebral disk, which serves as a shock absorber between the bones.

A range of factors can alter or damage the structure of the spine or the vertebrae and its surrounding tissue. Many can cause debilitating pain or mechanical problems that limit movement when changes in the bone put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. These factors include:

  • Injuries
  • Infections, such as osteomyelitis or discitis
  • Conditions, such as scoliosis, intervertebral disc degeneration, and ankylosing spondylitis
  • Age-related bone changes, such as herniated disks or spinal stenosis
  • Tumors

The diagnosis of a spinal condition includes a complete medical history and a physical assessment of the back pain, as well as x-rays, CT, or MRI scans to identify any specific conditions or problems with bone structures, discs, or nerves in the spine. Slightly more invasive procedures may include discography or electromyography.

At Jeanes Hospital, Temple neurosciences physicians draw on their extensive experience in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of spinal conditions with the focused goal of alleviating the debilitating pain for their patients.

Treatment for Spinal Conditions at Jeanes Hospital

The Temple neurosciences team at Jeanes understand how profoundly back pain can affect a person’s life. Based on the diagnosis, the doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan aimed at controlling the pain and eliminating its source.

Treatment plans often start with medication to alleviate the pain. These may include antidepressant, antianxiety, or anticonvulsant medications, or an opioid painkiller. Other pain relief measures may also be considered, such as physical therapy chiropractic treatments, bioelectric therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, or nerve block or epidural injections.

If these measures don’t provide the desired relief, surgery may be considered. Some of the more common types of spinal surgeries performed by Temple neurosurgeons at Jeanes Hospital include:

  • Spinal cord stimulation – A minimally-invasive procedure in which a small device is implanted into the skin, where it delivers low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord or specific nerves to stop pain signals from reaching the brain. The patient can control the intensity of the signals.
  • Kyphoplasty – A minimally-invasive procedure to repair vertebral compression fractures. A balloon is used to return the fractured bone to its correct position so that cement can be inserted to stabilize the bone. Procedure takes about an hour per fracture and can usually be done on an outpatient basis.
  • Vertebroplasty – Also minimally-invasive, this procedure involves the Temple neurosurgeon guiding a needle to the fracture using an X-ray. Once in position, bone cement is injected into the bone to stabilize it and relieve the pain. Also takes about an hour per fracture and is done on an outpatient basis.
  • Laminectomy – A common, but more involved surgery, in which an incision is made over the affected area and exposing the spine. The rear portion of one or more vertebrae are removed, as are any bone spurs or ligaments that are pressing on the nerves. Requires a longer recovery time.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple neurologist or neurosurgeon at the Jeanes Hospital Neurosciences Center, click here or call 215-728-CARE (2273).

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