Dunedin Spine Surgeon

Many patients try various nonsurgical methods to relieve chronic back pain, to no avail. While spinal surgery is rarely the first type of treatment for back issues, it can offer the pain relief and return to mobility patients who have been seeking. If you are experiencing spinal issues, an experienced spine surgeon can help.

Spinal Anatomy

The three sections making up the spine consists of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, corresponding to the neck, mid-to-upper back, and lower back. There are seven vertebrae in the cervical spine, twelve in the thoracic spine and five in the lumbar spine.

The vertebrae are individual bones, arranged one on top of another. In between each of these bones are shock-absorbing intervertebral disks. These disks are made up of a hard outer shell and a gel-like interior. The spine also consists of nerves, ligaments, and muscles. Protected within the spinal column is the spinal cord, responsible for sending messages to the brain, which in turn signals other parts of the body.

The thoracic spine, which forms joints with the ribs, has far more vertebrae than the cervical or lumbar regions. However, it is the least likely of the three sections to result in spinal injury. Low back pain, originating in the lumbar region, is the most common patient complaint. That is because the lumbar spine receives the most wear-and-tear over a person’s lifetime, and bears the majority of the spine’s weight.

Neurological Problems

Some spinal issues are more neurological in nature, and these require prompt attention. A patient experiencing weakness, tingling or numbness should see a spine surgeon as soon as possible. The same holds true for any issues affecting the bladder and bowels.

Spinal Conditions and Surgery

Aging and degeneration are primary factors for many spinal ailments.

Conditions treated with spinal surgery include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Fractures
  • Herniated disks
  • Pinched nerves
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Tumors

Diagnosing Spinal Issues

Before any type of surgery, the exact nature and location of the problem requires pinpointing. Patients may undergo various types of tests so that a definitive diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan is possible. These tests include X-rays to check for any possible fractures, as well as MRIs or CAT scans to reveal soft tissue issues. Blood tests may indicate whether there is an infection in the spine.

Contact a Surgeon

Dunedin spine surgeons use traditional and minimally invasive surgical methods when performing procedures. Minimally invasive methods mean less downtime for the patient, a faster recovery, less scarring and fewer complications. There are risks, however, with all types of surgery. Some conditions are not suitable for minimally invasive surgery and traditional, open back surgery is the preferred method in these situations.

Spinal surgery is not one-size-fits-all. A Dunedin spine surgeon develops a surgical and treatment plan for each individual patient. After surgery, the patient undergoes a physical therapy regimen designed for their needs. The goal is always to return a patient to as normal a life as possible. Many patients are able to return to work within a few weeks of surgery.