Low back pain and neck pain are among the most common spine-related complaints. Muscle, ligament, nerve, disc, and spine injuries are frequent causes of back pain. Poor posture during movements, wear and tear, and degenerative disease, such as arthritis, can cause the spinal structures to break down and add pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Only a small percentage of people with back and neck pain need spine surgery.
Our board-certified & fellowship trained spine surgeon strives to offer the highest level of care for the back and neck that helps restore function, reduce discomfort, and prevent further injury. Education, chiropractic care, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, medication, exercise, ultrasound, and spinal injections are often utilized as nonsurgical options in relieving spine pain.
Most spine injuries and conditions can be effectively treated through conservative techniques. However, if surgery is absolutely necessary to ensure a complete recovery, our spine surgeons are able to offer the latest advancements in state-of-the-art spine surgery that promote an effective return to active living.
We provide comprehensive services to treat a wide array of spine conditions, including:
- Spinal stenosis
- Bulging and herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Low back pain
- Adult scoliosis
- Failed back syndrome
- Facet disease
- Foraminal stenosis
- Fracture of the spine
- Osteoporosis compression fractures
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebrae)
- SI joint dysfunction & pain
We make it a priority to treat our patients using conservative, non-surgical options whenever possible. However, when surgery is needed, we provide expert minimally-invasive care.
Procedures offered at Cullman Regional include:
- Anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion
- Cervical total disk replacement
- Laminectomy/ laminotomy
- Lumbar fusions
- Lumber diskectomy
- Spinal cord stimulators
- Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusions
- Cervical laminotomy
- Full laminoforaminotomy
- Sacroiliac joint fusion
- XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion)
- Adult scoliosis reconstruction
- Lumbar decompression
Frequently Asked Questions About Spine Care
What is the cervical spine(neck)?
The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae, each separated by discs that act as cushions between the bones. Your cervical discs stabilize your neck and enable a great range of mobility.
Studies show that about 65% of the population will, at some time in their lives, be affected by pain in the cervical spine. Neck pain can result from both degenerative and non-degenerative spine issues.
The repetitive stress of bending and twisting in the neck can take its toll on your cervical spine over time. Degenerative disc disease is generally a slow process in which the disc becomes compressed, putting pressure on the nerves. This can result in neck stiffness, radiating pain, and numbness or weaknesses in the shoulders, arms and hands. Non-degenerative cervical spine problems, often the result of an accident or acute injury, can produce the same symptoms.
What is the lumbar spine (low back)?
The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae. These bones are larger than the rest of the spinal column, which aides them in carrying the weight of the torso.
The causes of lumbar strain vary greatly and may be difficult to identify. Incidence of lower back pain appears higher in that population of patients with poor physical health, poor posture and body mechanics and stressful lifestyle. In the younger population, low back pain is most often attributed to a combination of rapid growth, tight musculature (especially the hamstring muscles) and poor posture. Older adults are more likely to suffer from pain related to osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis or other degenerative conditions.
What are common spine injuries and conditions?
Common spine issues include:
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis are degenerative conditions in which the cartilage between the vertebrae or facets breaks down
- Degenerative disc disease refers to the degeneration of space between the discs, usually resulting from wear and tear over time. A fairly common cause of low-level back pain, this condition occurs more often in the lower back than the neck
- Herniated (ruptured) disc occurs when the inner gel, or cartilage, in the discs protrude out
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is pain in the “SI joint,” which is located at between the base of the spine and the hip
- Sciatica is a lower back problem that affects the sciatic nerve exiting the lumbar spine, often causing radiating pain down the leg and into the foot
- Scoliosis is the abnormal three-dimensional curvature of the spine, usually developed during adolescence but sometimes caused by aging and arthritis
- Spinal fractures are often the result of osteoporosis (loss of bone density and structural integrity) or trauma
- Spinal stenosis is a condition in which parts of the spine narrow, leading to compression of a spinal nerve or the spinal cord in the neck
- Spinal tumors are tumors in the spine that cause pressure on the nerves
- Whiplash is an injury to the muscles and ligaments in the neck from a sudden jerking or “whipping” the head beyond its normal range of motion
How do you treat low back pain?
Low back pain in over 95% of cases is managed conservatively with lumbar spine treatment, without the need for surgery.
Acute lumbar strain may resolve quickly with an adequate amount of rest combined with proper activity. Gentle stretching, occasional anti-inflammatory usage or muscle relaxers can assist the patient during the acute phase of lumbar strain. Excessive bed rest or inactivity may actually delay recovery. For the most part, lumbar strain is only temporary and most patients recover within a 2-12 week time frame, depending on cause and severity of a potential back injury.
For those with serious cases of acute back pain, it is vital to get an accurate diagnosis in order to receive the proper spine treatment. This is important to rule out any serious underlying and progressive disease or problem that can worsen and create permanent damage.
Of most concern with back pain is the incident of recurrence in those that have experienced one episode. Maintaining an adequate level of fitness, flexibility, strength and applying appropriate body maneuvers with lifting techniques can go a long way in avoiding this problem.
What are the symptoms of a possible spine condition?
Signs and symptoms of a neck or low back injury may include:
- Low back pain & neck pain
- Decreased function due to low neck & back pain
- Altered sensation or sharp and shooting pains that radiate down to the lower leg, ankle or foot, or arms
- Radiating pain, numbness, weakness or loss of function in the limbs
If you are experiencing any of these neck or back injury symptoms, it is recommended that you contact your spine physician without delay.
What are the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery?
Traditional spine surgery involves more invasive techniques to accomplish what minimally invasive spine surgery now offers. Utilizing a much smaller incision is only one advantage.
Traditional spine surgery requires more separation or retraction of the muscles and surrounding soft tissues to insert instrumentation and any hardware necessary to address the problem. Through minimally invasive techniques, additional trauma is avoided. As a result, patients experience less surgical blood loss, lower risk of infection, less post-operative pain and less scarring.
Additional benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery are that patients also require much less anesthesia, and hospital stays are dramatically shorter. Spine surgery usually requires four to five days of inpatient hospitalization, but many patients are able to go home much quicker after spine surgery.
How does minimally invasive spine surgery work?
Muscles are dilated apart, rather than incised, and the operation is performed with minimal injury to the surrounding soft tissues. Depending on the specific diagnosis and surgical technique used, minimally invasive procedures may be performed either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.