Posted on January 08, 2019
Do you avoid going to see movies because sitting for two hours becomes too uncomfortable?
Do you experience discomfort when driving for other than short distances?
Do you find yourself having to stand occasionally when dining out or playing cards?
When going from a sitting position to standing, do you move very slowly to fully erect yourself in order to avoid discomfort?
These problems typically have one thing in common – the spine. Although adults with these frequent complaints sum it up as “low back pain,” it is not that simple.
The spine is made up of different parts that have different roles.
From top down, the cervical spine makes up the neck and first 7 vertebrae. The first two allow the skull to rotate and move forward and backward.
The thoracic spine, which make up the next 12 larger vertebrae. These function to support the weight of the body. Up next is the lumbar spine, with 5 vertebrae. These make up the lower back.
Finally, the sacrum consists of 5 connected bones and is linked to the coccyx (tail bone), which consists of 4 very small bones.
Between each vertebra are flexible cartilage discs, known as intervertebral discs. These provide the vertebra with cushions that help to absorb shock. Each disc has a tough, fibrous outer that holds an inner substance – a thick gel, known as the nucleus pulposus.
The human back can endure enormous stress and strain over the years. Contact sports, heavy lifting, accidents, or even genetics can lead to back pain that can become excruciating. Conditions such as arthritis or cancer can also be the cause of pain that radiates from the spine.
As a Board Certified Interventional Pain Specialist, I have treated all types of back pain. Through advanced technology and techniques, we have helped hundreds of people avoid surgery.
For many, pain can often be resolved — sometimes temporarily, sometimes for years or altogether — with non-surgical or “minimally-invasive” treatment. For these patients, we offer a minimally invasive surgery center. This refers to “surgery” that minimizes incisions to reduce trauma to the body. It is generally associated with less pain, eliminating the inconvenience and cost of a hospital stay, and fewer complications.
Let’s look at the types of pain that relate to the spine. You may be surprised by how advanced pain management has become. In the right hands, with the right diagnosis, you can resume ease of motion and a life of comfort.
I’ll begin with a common method of resolving some pain – injections. However, just shooting a steroid or other medication into a painful area won’t work. If any relief is experienced, it is less likely to last very long when such a hit-or-miss approach is taken.
In our Fort Myers advanced pain management center, most injections are performed using fluoroscopic guidance. A fluoroscope is similar to an x-ray but works in “real time,” actually showing detailed internal structures as we administer treatment. This enables us to target the precise site of inflammation or damage.
Injection-treated conditions include:
• Discography – For disc-related back or neck pain
• Epidural Steroid Injections – For persistent sciatica and some lower back pain
• Facet Injections – For low back pain or neck pain emanating from the facet joints
• Joint Injections – Relieves pain caused by inflammation in degenerated joints
• Peripheral Nerve Block – Alleviates pain when inflammation causes nerve pain
• Sacroiliac Injections – Eases low back pain that comes from the joints on both sides of the spine where it joins the pelvis
• Selective Nerve Root Injections – Treats sciatica at the exiting spinal nerve root
Some conditions need more-complex treatment to resolve or minimize pain that originates in the spine. To support our patients who have these needs, we have incorporated some of the most advanced technology in the Southeast, offering successful results in a minimally-invasive manner.
For example: we are one of the few offices in southwest Florida to feature the highly advanced Superion by Vertiflex. This procedure stops the spinal canal from narrowing further through the insertion of a “spacer.”
Additionally, our Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD) is available. This removes excess ligament that causes narrowing in the spinal canal, relieving pressure and reducing sciatica pain.
For painful spinal fractures, Kyphoplasty can be performed. This procedure administers a substance that hardens into the fracture for immediate or rapid pain relief.
To eliminate (or greatly reduce) extreme pain from fractures of the sacrum, Sacroplasty can be performed. This also administers a substance that hardens into the fractured sacrum with pain relief that is often instantaneous.
We are also able to alleviate some back or neck pain using Radiofrequency Ablations. This procedure heats the nerve to “short-circuit” the pain signal. Relief can last for a year or more.
Pain that stems from pressure on the spinal cord may be resolved by a procedure known as Percutaneous Disc Decompression. By removing tissue, this is beneficial for patients who have not had sufficient relief from epidural injections but do not need open spinal surgery.
We can also “implant” pain relief. When leg or back pain results from scar tissue that forms after back surgery, a spinal cord stimulator can be implanted to greatly reduce pain.
Too, for cancer pain that is unresponsive to other medications and treatments, patients can be made more comfortable by having a Spinal Infusion Pump implanted. This provides better pain control by dispensing medication directly into the spinal canal.
There are a wide variety of ways to resolve or reduce back in the back, without surgery. However, it begins with a proper diagnosis. This is where we believe we have quite the edge. We take the time to get to know each patient and LISTEN to them, in addition to carefully and thoroughly reviewing their medical history and diagnostic records.