Spine Conditions Treated at AICA Laser Spine
There is a canal in between the bones of the spine that surround the spinal cord. For many patients who come to us from Atlanta and surrounding areas with spine conditions, that spinal canal starts to narrow. The cause of this narrowing is usually aging but may be related to arthritis, injury, and overuse.
As the spinal canal narrows, there is less protection in between the rest of the spine, the spinal nerve roots and the spinal cord. This puts pressure on the nerves and leads to many common symptoms including:
- Pain or discomfort upon standing.
- Persistent pain in the neck and back that may radiate to the legs and shoulders.
- Weakness in the muscles of the extremities, leading to problems with grip or walking and in severe cases, muscle atrophy.
The exact symptoms depend on the location of the spinal stenosis, which may occur in the lumbar spine (lower spine), cervical spine (neck), and less commonly in the thoracic spine (mid-back).
At AICA Laser Spine, our spinal treatments focus on disc decompression, removal of bone spurs (if applicable), and laminotomies, among other options. Each of these minimally invasive and laser treatments is effective for relieving spinal stenosis without requiring any open back surgery type wounds.
Some pinched nerves are temporary, occurring when you sleep in a weird position or tweak your body playing a sport or possibly caused by a muscle spasm. But for some, a pinched nerve can be a chronic problem, where the nerve compression is caused by the body in a way that is permanent without treatment.
Also known as radiculopathy, the pain from a pinched nerve may be localized in the area of the “pinch,” or it may radiate and cause symptoms that extend to the legs, arms, shoulders, and more. It is also possible for these areas to experience muscle weakness and trouble with grip or gait.
Pinched nerves in and back or neck caused by herniated discs, nerve root injuries, and foraminal stenosis are likely to require some type of medical intervention.
Minimally invasive surgery and laser procedures for pinched nerves in our Atlanta, GA facility focuses first on diagnosing the underlying problem. Once we are able to determine why the pinched nerve occurs, the surgery – which requires minimal incisions and a fast recovery time – will move or remove the spinal issues that are pressing into the nerve and reduce or eliminate the chronic pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Between the bones of the spine are discs meant to cushion the bones from their movement. These discs have a tendency to lose moisture and buoyancy over time, and when they do it can cause the discs to become weak, brittle, and damaged. It is an especially common problem for seniors.
This condition is known as “degenerative disc disease” even though it is not actually a disease. DDD causes pain in the back, legs, neck, and shoulders much like other types of spinal pain, but may also have:
- Increased pain when sitting or standing.
- Increased pain when lifting or carrying.
- Decreased pain when shifting to other positions.
Like with most types of back and neck conditions, the exact pain depends on a combination of the location and how the injury manifests. Because it is a degenerative condition, it tends to get worse over time. There is often not that much you can do to control it, but smoking and obesity can play a role. It is uncommon for degenerative disc disease to affect the thoracic (mid/upper back) spine first. Most of the time it affects the lower back and neck area.
There are several minimally invasive treatments for degenerative disc disease that we may consider, including spinal fusion, discectomy, and facet thermal ablation. All of these are possible with laser spine and minimally invasive treatments.
Herniated and Bulging Discs
Herniated (bulging) discs are discs in the spine that have been pushed out of place or ruptured, often against muscles, tissues, or nerves. They may occur while aging but are also very common after injury (such as car accidents), or even dehydration. In some cases the sidewall of the disc becomes weak and a bulge or herniation occurs which may press against a nerve root causing debilitating pain in the surrounding area or outward in the limbs.
The symptoms of herniated discs can vary wildly. Depending on where the discs press on the nerves or tissues, it may cause shooting pain, dull pain, pain that radiates down the legs or arms, burning pain or sensation, tingling, muscle weakness, trouble moving, and in rare cases incontinence. The number of different symptoms is directly related to the amount of pressure the disc placed on the nerves, and where the injury occurs.
Although mild herniated and bulging discs may find their way back into position on their own, more severe or chronic disc herniation does require a treatment. Laser treatments and minimally invasive spine surgery here at AICA can help treat lumbar and cervical disc herniation.