Back problems are the leading cause of disability and lost productivity. Don’t let your back pain hinder you from having a great career and living your best life. Seeking medical care early on can prevent complications and increase your chances of full recovery.
When choosing an orthopedic surgeon in Palm Beach County it’s worth taking the time to find Board Certified orthopedic doctors who can give you the best chance of getting you back on your feet as quickly, professionally, and safely as possible.
Orthopaedic Surgery Associates is a practice known for the best orthopedic surgeons in Palm Beach County and a staff that is friendly and ‘ready to go the extra-mile’.
What is a spinal disc?
Spinal discs, also called the vertebral disc or intervertebral disc, are located between each bony vertebrae. These discs have a rigid outer ring made of cartilage and a soft, gelatinous inner core. The soft inner core, known as nucleus pulposus, contains proteins. If these proteins leak out, they can irritate the nerves and cause swelling and pain to adjacent tissues.
These discs hold the vertebrae together, absorb shock during movement, and prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other. They also help stabilize the spine, keep the body upright, allow flexibility and movement of the upper body, and protect the spinal nerves.
What are the signs and symptoms of spinal disc problems?
Any form of abnormality or injury to the spinal disc may damage the spine, compromise the structures it protects, and diminish its functions.
Signs and symptoms of spinal disc problems include:
- Back pain. Patients with displaced or degenerated disc may develop spinal nerve compression, leading to back pain.
- Nerve pain, medically known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia, is experienced by patients whose disc pinches the nerves near the spinal canal.
- Arm and leg pain. If the affected disc is located in the cervical spine (neck area), the pain can run down the arm. However, if the damaged disc is in the lumbar spine (lower back), the pain can radiate to the leg.
- Numbness, burning, and tingling sensation are symptoms associated with nerve compression.
- Muscle weakness. Weakness of the leg muscles can cause something known as ‘foot drop’. This is more common in patients with degenerative disc disease who have sustained damage to the nerve root in the lumbar spine. If the affected disc is in the cervical spine, patients may observe that they often drop objects and have trouble performing tasks that require hand use.
In severe cases, patients with spinal disc problems in the lower back may lose bowel and urinary control as the disc presses against the nerves that control the bladder and bowel.
It is important to remember that a damaged disc cannot repair itself, due to its low blood supply. As a result, patients with spinal disc problems in Boca Raton, Fl may need to resort to surgery if pain medication can no longer alleviate the pain.
What conditions require disc surgery?
Surgery is usually the last resort for any medical illness. The first line of treatment is often conservative and therapeutic such as taking medications, changing some lifestyle factors, and undergoing physical therapy.
If you have a severe case of any of the following conditions, it might mean that conservative treatment can no longer improve your signs and symptoms. Your doctor might recommend surgery to prevent complications.
We urge you to consult our experts in spinal disc problems in Boynton Beach or Boca Raton to know your treatment options.
This condition is also known as bulged, prolapsed, slipped, or ruptured disc. Remember that the spinal discs have two parts: the rigid outer portion and the soft inner portion. In patients with a herniated disc, there is a tear in the outer layer, so the soft inner core is pushed out into the spinal canal where the spinal cord runs.
Since the spinal canal is narrow, the displaced fragment of the disc can compress the spinal nerves. Our patients who needed herniated disc treatment in Boca Raton complained of back pain and other nerve compression-associated signs and symptoms.
Although this condition can happen in any part of the spine, it is more common in areas with an inward curvature like the cervical and lumbar spine.
When the prolapse happens in the cervical spine, the signs and symptoms usually affect the upper body, including the arms. On the other hand, if it’s in the lumbar spine, the lower part of the body is often affected, including the lower extremities.
When is surgery needed for a herniated disc?
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), you may be a candidate for spinal surgery if you answer yes to the following questions:
- Does the pain limit your mobility and negatively impact the quality of your daily life?
- Have the symptoms progressed to leg or arm weakness or numbness?
- Have you lost control of your bladder and bowel movement?
- Are you having difficulty walking or standing?
- Have medications and physical therapy failed to improve your condition?
Degenerative disc disease
As people age, they lose bone mass and bone density. The spinal discs also lose fluid and gradually thin out. This puts aging as a primary risk factor for degenerative disc disease.
Although common in older people, this condition may also develop in the younger population as a result of:
- trauma such as accidents and falls
- repetitive injury caused by putting excessive strain on the back
Patients with degenerative disc disease often complain of back pain, which may radiate to the upper or lower extremities. The pain may be caused by:
- The inadequate cushion between the bones, making them rub against each other
- Inflammation of the nearby tissues and irritation of the nerves due to the leaking proteins from the disc nucleus
- Instability of the vertebrae. When the tough outer rings of the disc degenerate, they are no longer effective in absorbing stress on the spine. This leads to micro-movements along the vertebral segment.
When is surgery needed for degenerative disc disease?
Patients whose symptoms have become disabling and debilitating may be advised to undergo surgery. Options may include spinal fusion surgery or artificial disc replacement surgery for patients who answer yes to the following questions:
- Have you religiously followed the prescribed conservative treatments for at least six months, but your condition failed to improve?
- Do you still suffer from severe pain even after taking pain medications?
- Do you often find yourself making changes to your normal lifestyle almost every day because of your symptoms?
Cancers of the spine
Cancer is a medical condition caused by rapidly dividing cells wherein the old cells do not die but multiply out of control to form an abnormal mass of tissue called a tumor.
There are two types of tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors do not invade body parts like malignant or cancerous spinal tumors. Nonetheless, both of these tumors are abnormal tissues located in or around the spinal cord or spinal column.
According to the AANS, 30-70% of cancers may spread to the spinal column. Often, cancers of the breast, lung, and prostate metastasize to the bone.
Patients with tumors in the spine often complain of middle or lower back pain that has nothing to do with injury, physical activity, or stress. The pain may get worse over time despite conservative treatment. It is usually aggravated by movement and lying down.
Other than back pain, patients may also experience muscle weakness, back stiffness, walking difficulties, paralysis, and spinal deformity like scoliosis.
When is surgery needed for cancer of the spine?
The surgical approach depends on the type and location of the tumor. Your doctor might recommend surgery if:
- The tumor does not respond to radiation or chemotherapy
- The pain is intractable or cannot be controlled
- The tumor is compressing the spinal cord
- The disease caused pathologic fractures in the spine
- The patient still has 4 months or longer to live
Infection of the spine
Spinal infections are often caused by bacteria or fungi and usually occur 3 days to 3 months after surgery. These microorganisms were carried into the spine via the bloodstream. The infection may affect the vertebrae, intervertebral disc, spinal canal, and soft tissues.
Patients with spinal infection often complain of severe back pain, weight loss, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, and loss of bowel and bladder control. Like any type of infection, fever and chills are also present. If the infection has already spread to the spinal canal, this can even lead to paralysis.
When is surgery needed for spinal infection?
The goal of surgery is to remove the infected tissues, stabilize the spine, restore function, and prevent neurologic complications.
Patients who qualify for surgery are those who:
- Have sustained bone damage, leading to an unstable spine
- Suffer from bowel and bladder incontinence and other neurologic deficits
- Have developed sepsis
- Have infections that no longer respond to intravenous antibiotics
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Injury to the spinal cord is commonly caused by trauma to the vertebral column. The signs and symptoms depend on the location and severity of the injury.
In the United States, the primary cause of spinal cord injury in younger people is motor-vehicular accidents, while in older adults, the leading cause is falls. The National Spinal Cord Injury Association estimates that around 450,000 Americans live with SCI.
Spinal cord injuries can be classified into two: complete and incomplete. Complete SCIs lead to a total loss of movement and sensation below the level of damage. On the other hand, patients with incomplete SCI can still perform limited motor and sensory functions below the injury level.
When is surgery needed for spinal cord injury?
Patients who are candidates for surgery are:
- Those who show signs and symptoms of spinal cord compression from a herniated disc
- Those with an incomplete SCI or who have progressively deteriorating neurological function
- Those whose spine needs to be stabilized to relieve pain and prevent deformity
Who are at risk of developing spinal disc problems?
You are more susceptible to spinal disc problems if you are:
- Not physically fit
- A cigarette smoker
- Lifting heavy objects often
- Always in a bad posture
How to prepare for disc surgery?
Make sure that you understand and fully accept the benefits, possible risks, and outcomes of the surgery. If you are anxious or have any questions, let your surgeon know about it.
We also recommend that you arrange your home to make it comfortable, safe, and conducive for recovery after surgery. Place frequently used items within easy reach, stock up on healthy food, and get a pair of slip-on shoes, so you no longer need to bend down to put your shoes on.
After surgery, you will have restricted mobility, so a reacher or grabber can be of great help in picking up light items. Getting on and off the toilet may pose some challenge as well, so you might want to install a toilet riser and toilet safety rails for additional safety and convenience.
What to ask your orthopedic doctor before spinal disc surgery?
Before going under the knife, you need to be completely informed. Having enough knowledge and getting answers to questions you might have can relieve anxiety and help you mentally prepare yourself.
Here are some questions you may ask your orthopedic surgeon before you sign up for spinal disc surgery:
- Are there alternatives to spinal disc surgery?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the risks?
- What are the possible complications?
- How much will the surgery cost?
- Will my insurance pay for the surgery?
- Is there anything I need to do before the surgery to improve the outcome?
- Do I have to take any medication before the surgery?
- Do I have to stop taking my current medications before surgery?
- What type of anesthesia will be given to me?
- How long will the surgery take?
- How long will I stay in the surgical center after surgery?
- What will I be able to do or not do after the surgery?
- How long will it take me to recover?
- Who will I contact after surgery if I need assistance or if I have questions?
What to expect before a disc surgery?
Before surgery, patients must be in reasonably good health. You will have to be medically clear for surgery to ensure minimal risk and avoid complications during surgery that may result from an underlying lung or heart condition.
Your doctor will have to request some laboratory and radiologic tests to ensure that you are safe to undergo surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will also give you an overview of how the surgery will be done.
What do doctors do during disc surgery?
There are several types of disc surgery, and your orthopedic doctor may perform one or a combination of them.
Artificial disc surgery
This surgery is ideal for patients whose condition involves a single disc in the lower back. The patient is placed under general anesthesia. Then, the surgeon will create an incision in the abdomen, which will be the entry point to replace the damaged disc with an artificial disc made of plastic or metal.
Discectomy is the most common form of herniated disc treatment in Boca Raton for patients with lower back disc herniation. The surgeon makes an incision in the lower back or neck to access the vertebral disc underneath. A portion of the disc (or sometimes, the entire disc) that is pressing on the nerve is removed.
Microdiscectomy is essentially the same as discectomy. However, the surgeon makes a smaller incision and uses special instruments to make the surgery less invasive.
These surgeries may be performed on an outpatient basis.
During a laminotomy, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back and creates an opening in the lamina (vertebral arch) to relieve the pressure on the nerves. On the other hand, during a laminectomy, the lamina is removed. These surgeries are sometimes performed with the help of a microscope.
Spinal fusion surgery is performed under general anesthesia. This surgery aims to permanently immobilize the problem areas in the spine by fusing two or more vertebrae. This can be accomplished through bone grafting and stabilizing the spine using screws and rods made of plastic or metal.
What to expect after a disc surgery?
Your doctor will give your discharge instructions, which you should follow strictly. It includes instructions on when to resume your normal activities, movement restrictions (if any), food restrictions, medications, and when to go back for follow-up.
You will also have to undergo physical therapy to facilitate safe and faster recovery.
Patients who had spinal fusion surgery may experience back stiffness, which is completely expected.
Where to find treatment for spinal disc problems in Florida?
If you want to experience high-quality medical care under the hands of experienced and highly trained orthopedic surgeons, Orthopaedic Surgery Associates is the place to go.
Orthopaedic Surgery Associates is a practice known for the best orthopedic surgeons and staff that are friendly and ready to go the extra mile.
Whether you are looking for treatments for a herniated disc in Boca Raton, or you are suffering from other spinal disc problems, our orthopedic doctors are here to help you get back to your normal life.
You can visit us at any of our accessible and convenient locations in Florida:
- spinal disc problems in Boynton Beach
- spinal disc problems in Boca Raton, Fl
Learn more about Spinal Disc Surgery at Orthopaedic Surgery Associates
If you have ever tried to find herniated disc treatments in Boca Raton, then you will know that there are many to choose from. When faced with such a large selection of orthopedic surgeons, it can be difficult to decide who to choose to treat your injury or condition.
Orthopaedic Surgery Associates has many of the leading orthopedic surgeons in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. If you are unsure or have any additional questions about which orthopedic doctor in Boca Raton (or Boynton Beach) is right for you, please feel free to read their bios or Contact Us.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health