In a healthy back, the vertebra joints make up the spinal column. These joints work together and permit multiple degrees of motion. For patients with degenerative disc disease, Osteoarthritis, or a weak or unstable spine caused by infections or tumors, fractures, Scoliosis or other deformities, abnormal and excessive motion of the back may result in pain. After examination and review of your medical history, our surgeon will discuss possible methods of treatment for your problem, and let you know if surgery is necessary.
The spine has 25 joints connecting with 33 individual bones and is basically, made up of 5 main segments:
Each bone in the spine is called a vertebra. The vertebrae are kept separate by disks of cartilage and the cartilage prevents the vertebrae in the spine from wearing against each other. The interconnected series of deep muscles and ligaments keeps the spine supported.
- The neck or cervical vertebrae, which supports the skull
- The chest or thoracic vertebrae which is connected to the ribs
- The lumbar vertebrae
- The bottom 4 bones of the spine that are fused together to form the tailbone (coccyx)
- And the 5 bones above that which are fused together to form the sacrum; all caged within the bones of the pelvis
The information below highlights some of the most common procedures our surgeons perform and is intended for informational purposes only.
At each vertebra in the spine, there is a disc space in the front, which is paired with facet joints in the back. In a back where injury or degeneration has occurred, movement is painful. Spinal fusion surgery is designed to stop motion in the area where the vertebra is damaged. All lumbar spinal fusion surgery involves adding bone graft to an area of the spine to cause it to grow between the two vertebras and thereby stop the motion between that vertebra. In general, a lumbar spinal fusion surgery is most effective for those conditions involving only one vertebral segment (one-level spine fusion). Most patients will not notice any limitation in motion after this type of surgery.
There are several types of spinal fusion surgeries, depending on your condition; your doctor will discuss what is best for your specific situation. The goal of the spine surgery is to decrease the pain generated from the joint causing the pain. It is important to note that with any type of spine fusion surgery, there is a risk of clinical failure (meaning that the patient's pain does not go away) despite achieving a successful fusion.
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend disk replacement surgery as an alternative to fusion. Unlike a fusion, which limits range of motion at the location of the diseased disk, replacement of the diseased disk helps the patient maintains mobility. Other advantages for the patients are:
Spine surgery is a major undertaking. Depending on what type of spine surgery you have your doctor will determine what course of rehabilitation your should have.
- Better range of motion
- No fusion stiffness
- Quicker recovery
- And ADR also prevents future degeneration at disc above or below
During your recovery and rehabilitation, you will work with physical therapists. These specially trained individuals will focus on muscle facilitation in areas where the muscles may need special re-training to gain strength and provide stability following the back surgery. These types of exercises may focus on muscles in the incision area and/or muscles that may have been weakened by nerve problems before the surgery. Many of the techniques you’ll learned are simple and easy to do and can be done at home or at work throughout the day.
For information on Chesapeake Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center physicians that specialize in the treatment of the spine, click below.