In most patients with spinal stenosis, a laminectomy is all they need for relief. However, some conditions require something additional for best results: a fusion. I do this procedure at the same time as a laminectomy. Some of your own bone is harvested from a particular area on your pelvis that can spare it safely.
There is a common deformity of the spine that is familiar to very few people, even though it occurs in up to five percent of the population (that’s one person out of twenty). It is called Spondylolisthesis (Spon-di-lo-lis-thee-sis), which is Greek for “slippage of the spine.”
The condition is not dangerous because the slippage almost never progresses once adulthood is reached. Therefore, the treatment is usually aimed towards simply relieving pain. I have had good luck treating this with braces and therapy for muscular strengthening to help restore stability to the lower spine.
Whenever she tried to walk to much, her back would begin to hurt, and then the pain would spread down her legs. If she sat down, the pain would go away. It got slowly worse over the months, to the point where she started giving up golf. That just wouldn’t do!
What is the natural history of scoliosis? Curvatures tend to stop getting bigger once a patient is done growing. Once a girl’s had periods for two years, her curves are unlikely to progress much after that for the rest of her life. The exception to this is if the curve gets bigger than about 50 degrees.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature in the spine that some children, mostly girls, develop around 10 to 12 years old. It is almost never painful, except for perhaps a slight ache. Most of the time, it is discovered during a school screening.
“Elsa” was a 55 year old woman who came to me two years ago with a great deal of low back pain. She had begun to have pain eight years before that, in her upper back. It had become worse and worse to the point where it was incapacitating.
Until recently, people who had painful sciatica from herniated (in other words, ruptured) disks in their backs have had only one choice if they needed surgery: we made a small one-inch incision, exposed the disk, and removed the herniated portion that was pressing on the nerves and causing the sciatica.
Sometimes a patient and I will begin to discuss the option of surgery to help relieve his or her pain. At these times, a particular question will often pop up: “What about laser surgery?”
Most people have had bouts of sciatica at some point in their lives, or have known somebody who did. It consists of pain which starts in the buttock region and radiates down the leg. Most of the time the pain is annoying but not excruciating, and it goes away without much help in a few days to weeks.