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What are sacroiliac joint injections?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Sacroiliac joint injections are used to both diagnose and/or treat pain in the lower back. Many times, these injections are used to treat people living with sciatica.

What are sacroiliac joints?

What are facet injections/medial branch blocks?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Facet injections are used for patients that experience low back pain and leg pain due to inflammation or issues with joints. Patients that receive this type of treatment have usually undergone other types of treatment that haven’t work such as physical therapy, use of anti-inflammatory medicines, or bed rest. They can treat patients that facet arthritis, pain after back surgery, or low back pain without disk disease.

What are selective nerve root blocks/transforaminal epidurals?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

These types of injections can be used in the neck, mid and upper back, and lumbar and lower regions of the back. Nerve roots are at the base of the spinal cord and help with movement of the arms chest, and legs and oftentimes these roots become inflamed or painful. Selective nerve root blocks or transforaminal epidurals are often used to treat pain by placing a numbing solution over the root of the nerve. This also gives the doctor a better way to diagnose the pain. For example, if the patient experiences relief of pain after the numbing solution is injected, the nerve root is usually the reason for pain. If there is no relief, the nerve is likely not the reason for pain and the doctor will continue to work to diagnose the exact source of pain. This may include using nerve blocks in other areas to pinpoint what the problem is and what the best treatment plan is

What is a SPECT bone scan?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

SPECT bone scans can help find hidden bone fractures and can also diagnose and monitor the growth of cancer in the bones. These types of scans are generally safe, however some patients experience adverse reactions to the radioactive dye they receive, which can cause pain or swelling where the needle was injected, or sometimes patients can have allergic reactions to the solution used.

What is intraoperative neuromonitoring?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Intraoperative neuromonitoring is a technique that uses electrophysiological methods to keep close watch on the specific neurological parts of the body during surgery, such as the brain, spine, and nerves. In other words, it gives your doctor a better view of your nervous system when you’re undergoing surgery. Intraoperative neuromonitoring is usually conducted and controlled by a trained and certified technologist and monitored by a physiologist or a neurologist.

What are nerve conduction studies?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Nerve conduction studies measure how fast the nerves send electrical signals and an electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of the nerves while resting as well as while contracting.  Muscles are controlled by the nerves sending electrical signals (otherwise known as impulses).  These signals give the muscles direction on which way to move or react and with nerve damage, these impulses may be affected and cause the muscles to work abnormally.

What is a CT scan?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash

A CT scan (also known as a CAT scan) stands for a Computed Tomography scan.  It is a type of x-ray method that combines many x-ray images with assistance from a computer to generate cross dimensional views of organs and other internal parts of the body.  It is far more advanced than a regular x-ray and can accurately find abnormalities in specific parts of the body. CT scans are painless, are generally a very low-risk procedure, and the amount of radiation exposure received is very minimal.  Many times iodine-contrasting materials is injected in the area being x-rayed in order to help make specific parts of the body (such as arteries, veins, or kidneys) more clearly visible on the scan.  They can also be used to examine parts of the head or back during traumatic injuries, and can help diagnose tumors or certain infections. Further, CT scans are commonly used to help measure bone density in the spine.

What is an MRI scan?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

You’ve just been in for a visit to your doctor and he’s ordered an MRI.  It’s likely that you have heard of MRIs before, but you might have questions as to what is involved. Will it hurt?  How much radiation will I be exposed to? A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a painless test that gives doctors images of the soft tissues, organs, and bones of your body by using a strong magnetic field, radio frequency pules, and computer technology. MRIs do not provide the same type of radiation that x-rays do.

What are lateral flexion-extension radiographs?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Radiographs (such as x-rays) of low back pain are used to assess back pain more fully and determine the cause of pain and discomfort.  Usually, your doctor will order an AP (anteroposterior) or lateral view x-ray for low back pain.  The AP view will give the doctor a front-to-back picture of your back (where you facing the front of the x-ray machine) and lateral views give a side-to-side view (where you face sideways from the x-ray camera). In many cases, your doctor many order images that show weight-bearing, as this can provide a more accurate representation of your spine and what is causing pain. This means that instead of lying down, which is common practice for x-rays, some images may be taken while standing or while you are flexing and bending. This gives your doctor a way to judge how well your vertebrae are able to move.

What are thoracic tumors?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash

If you’ve been told you have a spinal tumor, you’re likely distressed, scared, or worried about what exactly that means and how it will affect your daily living. While your feelings of distress are normal, there are a variety of treatment options and the outcomes are better than they ever have been due to technology and the increased research of doctors and scientists worldwide.

What are thoracic fractures and dislocations?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

A thoracic fracture or dislocation is one that occurs in the middle of the back. These types of injuries are usually the result of high energy accidents, such as falling from high up, motor vehicle accidents, or high-impact sports accidents, or violence, such as a gunshot. These types of injuries can also be caused by osteoporosis in seniors, as the bones in the spine are often weakened from age and sometimes with tumors along the vertebrae of the spine.

What are core stabilization exercises?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

The muscles that surround the back and abdomen have been named the “core” as they are the basis for all other muscles to work upon to start movement. These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, and shift body weight evenly. Core stabilization exercises help develop your abdominal, spine, and lower back muscles to function at their peak.

How do I prevent spinal cord injury?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash

A spinal cord injury is extremely severe and in many cases, life-altering or life-threatening. Taking preventative measures in order to avoid injuring your spine can be done. Following these simple safety tips can help reduce your risk of spinal injury.

What is post operative rehab?

By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash

Post-operative rehabilitation is the period of recovery after surgery. Depending on the extent of the injury or severity of the surgery, the rehabilitation process may need to be tailored accordingly. Post-operative rehabilitation is important to long-term recovery and better health in the long run and when completed correctly, can help speed up recovery and prevent other future injuries.

What is outpatient spine surgery?

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash

Who would have thought that one day, a person could have surgery on their spine and the same day, go home to recover? With advances in technology and surgical procedures, this is now possible. For example, endoscopic spine surgery can now be performed on a patient suffering from herniated discs, whereas before, that same person would have been required to have a more invasive back procedure that would have required a hospital stay, more extensive scarring, and a greater risk for blood loss or infection. Now, outpatient surgeries, meaning the patient can go home the same day as the operation, are common practice today. Unlike traditional surgery, outpatient surgery is often easier, faster, and more affordable for the patient.

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