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Neck Pain

While not as common as low back pain, neck pain can be a significant cause of pain and disability. Like low back pain, the recommendations for acute pain include rest, activity modification, over the counter medications to treat the pain and time. Multiple pain generators exist but typically are benign unless they cause significant radiation into the upper extremities associated with weakness or numbness. Typically, the pain will improve in a few days to a couple of weeks. If it does not, then it is reasonable to seek medical evaluation. Your physician may recommend physical therapy, chiropractic treatment or prescribed medications. Further testing may include x-ray or MRI.
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Back Pain

Back pain is a very common condition that affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives. Most back pain is benign and very treatable without surgery. Many potential pain generators exist including bone, ligament, disc and nerves. Common tratments include time, rest, ice, heat, and over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Most episodes will resolve or improve within a few days to a couple of weeks. When the pain doesn’t improve quickly, more sophisticated techniques may be employed like physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, massage or osteopathic manipulation. If the pain persists for greater than 6 weeks despite conservative treatment, there may be an indication to obtain advanced studies such as X-RAY or MRI. If the pain is associated with substantial amounts of pain radiating into the lower extremities (sciatica) or weakness, numbness, then medical care should be sought.
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Sciatica Treatment

Sciatica is a general term that connotes pain in the distribution of the sciatic nerve. This pain will typically be pain that originates in the low back and radiates to the buttock, posterior thigh and possibly below the knee. A nerve being compressed in the spine by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis are common causes, however, the pain can be referred pain due to disc degeneration, arthritis of the joints in the spine, or even muscular. If the cause is a herniated disc conservative measures are often successful. These include medications, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and spinal injections. If these things fail to be successful, then surgery is often employed and can easily be done on a minimally invasive, outpatient basis. Spinal stenosis has a more guarded prognosis, however, conservative treatment is usually the right choice for acute pain in the absence of numbness or weakness.
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Cervical Disk Replacement

Cervical disc replacement is a recent spinal surgery advancement that is meant to alleviate pain due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis causing arm pain and weakness or numbness. It is gaining popularity largely due to its effect to lessen the need for future operations. Not all patients are good candidates for disc replacement, however, many are and a conversation and examination by a trusted surgeon may lead the patient to this advancement that can reduce pain, improve functional abilities and quality of life.
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Minimally Invasive Surgery

Medical advancements have led to the development of less invasive surgery in multiple disciplines. Spine surgery is no stranger to this phenomenon. Although relatively little research supports “lasers”, minimally invasive surgery has many publications that have shown benefits to less invasive surgery including less blood loss, quicker recovery and outpatient recovery. Not everyone who needs surgery is a candidate for these less invasive surgeries, however, conversing and being examined by a respected surgeon will often lead to surgeries and protocols that can improve the patient’s outcome over more traditional surgical techniques. Surgeries for herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and even disc replacement or fusion surgeries can be done minimally invasively.

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