Decompression surgery is an operation that relieves pain from pinched nerves. There are two main types of decompression surgery: microdiscectomy – which relieves pain from lumbar herniated disc; and lumbar laminectomy – which relieves pain from lumbar spinal stenosis. Decompression surgery is the most common surgical procedure for spinal stenosis because of the less invasive nature of the procedure.
Decompression therapy is commonly done to provide relief for pain in the back or leg. Patients with bulging, herniated disks, back or neck pain, or sciatica are candidates for decompression therapy. There are two types of decompression therapy – surgical (decompression surgery) and nonsurgical. In nonsurgical decompression therapy, the spine is stretched gently with a traction table or similar device that can produce motorized traction. Stretching changes the position of the spinal discs and hence reduces the pressure on the discs and nerves underneath.
Degeneration is the progressive deterioration of the normal state of cells, tissues, organs, or any parts of the body such that functional ability is lost. There are so many types of degeneration that can occur within the human body. With regards to spine health, there is a tendency for the vertebral discs and joints of the spine to deteriorate naturally during the aging process, which results in chronic back pain.
Also known as osteoarthritis (facet joint osteoarthritis in the spine), degenerative arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints deteriorates due to the aging process. With the onset of aging, the cartilage gets filled with more water and less protein resulting in wear and tear of the joints as well as inflammation. Symptoms of degenerative arthritis include pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. Treatments include water therapy, exercise, pain relief medicines, and spinal manipulation.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is the term for continuous (chronic) back or neck pain due to an injured vertebral disc. The vertebral disc lacks blood supply and has few nerve endings so damaged discs cannot repair themselves. This results in chronic pain.
Also called adult scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine which progresses as the joints in the spine degenerate. Adult scoliosis is seen in patients who have stopped growing – generally in patients aged 18 and older. There are several causes of degenerative scoliosis, including idiopathic (adolescent) scoliosis and degenerative deformities of the bones of the spine in adulthood.
Demineralized bone is bone that has been stripped off its calcium and used to manufacture bone tissue that is useful for spinal fusion. The materials used to form this bone tissue are called bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs). The proteins are compounded with either a polymer or glycerol substrate to make a final product that enhances bone growth.
Depression is a clinical term that refers to a long-term mental state that includes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, an inability to deal with a situation or life, and in extreme cases suicidal thoughts. A clinical diagnosis is made when this state is maintained for more than two weeks and it affects the quality of life. The evidence of depression can be found in the chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Depression is often connected to other health problems such as chronic pain. Treatment includes therapy and antidepressants.
A dermatome is a segmented area on the skin where all the sensory nerves are associated with a single spinal nerve root. The spinal nerve roots occur in pairs for the opposite sides of the body. There are 8 pairs of spinal nerve roots for the cervical region, 12 pairs for the thoracic region, 5 pairs for the lumbar region, 5 pairs for the sacral region, and 1 pair for the coccygeal region. Dermatome knowledge helps in diagnosing the cause of pain.
Diagnostic Test or Diagnostic Study
Diagnostic test or diagnostic study is a process by which tools are used to confirm the presence of a disease, condition, and/or illness. The cause and the nature of the disease can also be obtained during diagnosis. Clinical diagnosis uses signs and symptoms presented by the patient. Medical diagnosis includes findings from medical history, interviews, physical examinations, laboratory tests, and imaging tests.
A disc (or vertebral disc) is the soft pad made of cartilaginous tissue found in-between vertebrae. It allows for fluidity in the spine, allows the spine to bear weight, and serves as a shock absorber. The vertebral disc is made up of two parts – the tougher outer part called annulus fibrosus and a softer inner part called nucleus pulposus. Natural degeneration of vertebral discs is associated with loss of water in the discs due to aging, resulting in back or neck pain.
Discectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing all or part of a herniated disc. There are three ways by which a surgeon can choose to do a discectomy – through microdiscectomy, discectomy in the lumbar region, and discectomy in the cervical region. During a discectomy, the outer part of the disc (called the annulus fibrosis) is first cut and then the inner nucleus pulposus is removed so as to take the pressure off the nerves.
Discogenic pain is pain that occurs as a result of damage or injury to the intervertebral disc. Discogenic pain is a common side-effect of degenerative disc disease. Discogenic pain occurs due to activity from inflammatory proteins. At a certain age, the disc no longer has inflammatory proteins and hence discogenic pain that was once present may cease. This usually happens at the age of 60. Treatment includes both conservative non-invasive treatment (physical therapy and pain medications) and surgery (required only for chronic discogenic pain).
A discogram, also referred to as discography, is a diagnostic tool that can show the anatomical site of the origination of low back pain. A radiographic contrast media is injected into a vertebral disc using x-ray guidance and if the patient indicates pain then the origin of the pain would have been detected on that disc. A discogram can be performed before a discectomy to pin-point the discs that need to be removed.
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