Spinal Treatment in Las Vegas
The spine is the long column of vertebral bones and disc that protect the spinal cord and the many nerves that branch off from it and provide function and movement to nearly every area of the body. When a part of the spine becomes damaged, moved, or worn down, it can affect these nerves and cause pain in the back, legs, and arms, as well as serious complications and other conditions.
The spine is classified into three different areas:
- Cervical (neck)
- Thoracic (mid-back)
- Lumbar (lower back)
The cervical and lumbar spine are most commonly affected by injury and disease because of their frequent use and pressure put on them from sitting, standing, sleeping, and working. Each of these areas of the spine is composed of several vertebrae and a disc in between each set, which cushions the vertebrae and prevents them from rubbing against each other. The discs may rupture or herniate as a result of injury or degeneration, causing pain radiating through the body.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease refers to the changes that occur to the spinal discs as part of the body's natural aging process. Spinal discs separate the vertebrae, the interconnected bones of which the spine is composed. While degenerative disc disease can occur anywhere within the spine, it most commonly affects the neck (cervical) and the lower back (lumbar) areas.
In addition to age, degenerative disc disease can occur as a result of small tears in a disc. These small tears lead to the release of the nucleus, a jelly-like material found in the disc, which can cause the disc to bulge or rupture. Degenerative disc disease can also stem from a herniated disc. As with many conditions, those who smoke or are obese are at a higher risk of developing degenerative disc disease.
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease vary. Depending on the location of the degenerating disc, individuals may experience pain in the neck, back, arm, leg, or buttocks. In some cases, no pain is experienced, causing the condition to remain unnoticed. It is important to see a doctor if you experience persistent pain in any of the aforementioned areas.
An intervertebral disc is located in between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine to provide cushioning support and flexibility within the spine. However, these discs may become damaged and tear or move out of place. A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured or slipped disc, is a common condition that may occur as a result of gradual wear and tear on the disc or from a spinal injury that cracks or tears the disc and causes it to bulge or break open.
Patients with a herniated disc may experience pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area as the disc presses on the nearby nerve roots. The location of the affected disc determines the location of the pain. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may cause pain through the buttock and down the leg, a condition known as sciatica.
Your doctor can diagnose this condition after performing a physical examination and taking X-ray images of the affected area. He or she will also ask you questions about your symptoms in order to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis. The symptoms associated with a herniated disc can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication and therapeutic exercises; surgery is only required for the most severe cases. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan for your individual condition.
Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, stretching from the end of the spinal cord to the end of each leg. This nerve is susceptible to pain as a symptom of several different conditions. Pain radiating throughout the path of the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica and may also include numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.
Sciatica can be a symptom of conditions such as:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Piriformis syndrome
Most cases of sciatica are temporary and go away within 6 to 8 weeks. Pain can be relieved through home care such as ice packs, stretching and over-the-counter medications, as well as physical therapy. More severe cases may benefit from anti-inflammatory steroid injections or surgery to relieve nerve pressure. Sciatica can often be prevented by maintaining proper posture and regular exercise habits.
Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing in one or more areas of the spine as a result of injury or deterioration to the discs, joints, or bones within the spinal canal.
Most cases of spinal stenosis develop later in life as a result of degenerative changes that occur in the spine. Osteoarthritis is the main cause of spinal stenosis, as it initiates the deterioration of the cartilage in the area and leads to the bones rubbing against each other and forming bone spurs. Spinal stenosis can also be caused by a herniated disc, ligament changes, or spinal tumors.
Patients with spinal stenosis may experience cramping, pain, and numbness in the legs, back, neck, shoulders, or arms. A loss of sensation, loss of balance, and bladder malfunctioning may also occur.
Spinal stenosis is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can come and go and may resemble the symptoms of other conditions. A diagnosis of spinal stenosis is usually achieved only after ruling out other conditions. Typically, doctors will perform imaging exams such as a spinal X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and bone scan as well as ask questions about your symptoms and overall health to correctly diagnose your condition.
Most cases of spinal stenosis can be effectively treated through conservative methods such as physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, and a back brace. For more severe cases, surgical procedures such as a decompressive laminectomy, laminotomy, or fusion may be required to relieve pressure and join the damaged bone back to its normal state.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) syndrome, involves long-term, intense pain that occurs after an injury and tends to get worse over time instead of getting better. This condition most often affects the arms, legs, hands, or feet and can spread to nearby areas as it progresses. In addition to pain, patients may also experience swelling, sweating, skin sensitivity, and more.
The cause of RDS is not specifically known, although it is often linked to the sympathetic nervous system prolonging pain or an abnormal immune system response that prevents proper healing.
While there is no cure for this condition, there are several treatment options to relieve symptoms, including analgesics, antidepressants, corticosteroids, and opioids. Alternative treatment methods may include physical therapy, spinal cord stimulation, and a sympathetic nerve block. Patients may be prescribed a combination of these treatments in order to achieve effective pain relief.
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