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What is revision spine surgery?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

The spine is a very complex part of the body and when it comes to operating on it, it takes great skill and attention to detail. If your doctor has told you that you may need revision spine surgery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there was a mistake in a previous surgery, or even that it was a complete failure. The spine is a very active part of your body and can deteriorate even after surgery has taken place and a remedy to correct the problem might need to happen. For some people, a second (or maybe even a third) spine surgery may need to happen, depending on the specific problem.

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What is failed back syndrome?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

For some people, back surgery is not as a successful as they or their doctors had hoped for. Many times results aren’t what are expected, even with the most experienced surgeon and a perfect surgical operation. This is when failed back syndrome occurs. Failed back syndrome is actually an inaccurate name, as it refers to continued back pain after surgery.

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What is thoracic radiculitis?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Radiculitis causes pain that radiates along the nerve, due to irritation of the root of the nerve that connects to the spine. Radiculitis that happens in the thoracic spine will likely cause pain in the chest area. The area that is inflamed is very painful and can even cause a numb or tingling sensation and many times symptoms can include a tight feeling around the chest. The condition is usually caused by an injury to the nerves in the thorax including strain or sprains. It is more common to see people that are in sports or carry repetitively heavy loads on their backs to have this type of injury. Family history can also play a part in this condition.

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What is extreme lateral interbody fusion?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) is a newer, minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to get to the spine with little disruption to surrounding connective tissues. It fuses the  front section of the spine with the side. Traditional fusion surgeries are more invasive, have greater risk of blood loss, and usually require longer hospitalization or longer physical therapy sessions. However, XLIF can restore disc height with only a small incision along the lateral part of the back (between the lower ribs and pelvis). People living with scoliosis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or spondylolisthesis can all benefit from this procedure.

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What are dural tears?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

A dural tear occurs when the sac of tissue that covers the spinal cord and spinal nerves tears during spine surgery. If this tear isn’t recognized it may not heal and can leak spinal tissue which can cause a spinal headache and can increase your risk of infection of the spinal fluid which causes meningitis.

How are dural tears treated?

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What is posterior lumbar fusion?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Posterior lumbar fusion is a common type of surgery used to mend two or more spine bones in the lower back.  When the bones are joined together during surgery using a bone graft, they will eventually heal and form into one solid bone.

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What is microscopic lumbar discectomy?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

This is a very common procedure (also known as open discectomy) that is used to treat ruptured or herniated discs in the spine. The surgeon will make a small incision (about 1 inch) and will remove the muscle tissue from the bone and retractors are used to hold the muscle and skin to allow the surgeon to get a clear view of the spine. Once there is a clear view of the vertebrae, the doctor will remove the portion of the protruding disc and any other disc fragments that shouldn’t be there. This surgery will help relieve pressure on nerve tissue and minimize pain associated with the disc issue.

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What is cervical radiculopathy?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that is caused by damage, irritation or compression of the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae. This type of damage can happen from issues such as degenerative arthritis, or other injuries that can affect the nerve roots.  The symptoms of cervical radiculopathy are pain that goes through the shoulders, arms, or neck. There also may be tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hands or fingers and many times lack of coordination or impairment of motor function can happen.

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What is lumbar laminectomy surgery?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Lumbar laminectomy surgery (also known as a decompression surgery) is used mainly to ease pain and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves that is caused and associated with spinal stenosis. During the surgery, the physician removes the lamina, which is the back part of the vertebrae that covers the spinal cord. This can help enlarge the spinal canal and relieve pressure. In most cases, this operation is only used to treat vertebrae in the lower back or in the neck. This surgery is usually a last resort option and is performed usually only when medication and physical therapy haven’t worked, or if symptoms increase quickly and dramatically.

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What is Anterior lumbar interbody fusion?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash, MD

This is a surgical procedure on the back (first performed in the 1950s) that removes a portion of a herniated or degenerative disc from the back and replaced with an implant. The surgery is completed through an incision in the abdomen and removes the affected disc. When the disc is removed, you will have an empty space where the disc was, so to fill it in, the doctor will use a bone graft to fill the empty space. This will create a connection – a spinal fusion – between vertebrae and once the healing process begins, new bone cells will fuse the bones together and eventually, there will be one solid bone there.

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What is anterior cervical discectomy and fusion?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a surgical procedure that removes a herniated disc in the neck.  Discectomy means, literally, to cut out the disc, and anterior means that the doctor will reach the herniated disc through the front of the neck, through the throat area. The reason for this is because it is more convenient to reach the back part of the neck this way and has less risk of disturbing the spinal cord, nerves, and muscles on the back part of the neck. Sometimes, multiple discs can be removed this way.

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What is Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash, MD

Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (also known as Forestier's Disease) is a type of degenerative arthritis that usually affects the vertebrae of the spine (but sometimes other portions of the body such as heels, elbows, or knees).  The disease causes the ligaments that connect to the spine to harden or calcify, and is generally labeled as a progressive condition, which means it can get worse and cause serious complications.  There aren’t specific causes for developing the condition, but doctors know that there are some risk factors that are linked to it, such as individuals living with diabetes or obesity, as well as people who are taking specific medications on a long-term basis.

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What is Ankylosing spondylitis?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long term type of arthritis of the spine. It causes swelling of the vertebrae and many times these vertebrae can fuse together making the spine more immobile and an awkward, hunched-like posture. This condition is more common in men and to date, there is no cure for it. However, there are a variety of treatments that can help alleviate pain and reduce the development of symptoms. There is no known cause of the disease, but genetics may play a role in it.

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What is Sacroiliitis?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Sacroilittis is a painful condition that means the sacroliliac joint (either one or both of them) is inflamed. These joints connect the lower part of the spine to the pelvis. The pain felt with this condition is very severe and is commonly felt in the buttocks, groin, thighs, or lower part of the back, usually with a radiating intensity. It is often more pronounced after standing for a long period of time, running, or by stair climbing or other rigorous back and leg movement.

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What is radiofrequency ablation?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Millions of Americans live with chronic back pain. It can be painful and for many, debilitating. It becomes something they simply live with and get used to. But for some patients, radiofrequency ablation might be the answer to help relieve their pain.

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