The spine is complex and unfortunately that means that the problems occuring there can cause a lot of confusion for patients, even some for other health care professionals. At Florida Surgery Consultants, we specialize in the spine and treating the vast array of neck and back problems associated with it.
We’re not just talking about spinal surgery either, although there is no one better if you are looking for a surgical consultation in Florida. From injections to minimally invasive spinal surgery and then finally spinal fusions, Florida Surgery Consultants is capable of addressing any neck and back problem you may face.
We seek to help our patients in any way we can, and one of the best ways we can do that is by helping them better understand the back problems they face. This will make it easier to choose the most appropriate course of action when it comes to treatment.
The Anatomy of The Spine
The spine is a column of 33 individual bones that are stacked on top of each other. It is this special structure that serves as the primary form of support for the entire body, allowing human beings to stand/walk upright, bend over and do the twist. The bones of the spine also protect the spinal cord from damage.
A health spine is one comprised of flexible tendons and ligaments, sensitive nerves and strong muscles and bones. It’s a complex structure to say the least, with many ways that it can be impacted by excess strain, injury or disease. This is why neck and back pain is such a common issue for people in Florida and the rest of the world.
The Vertebrae in the Spine
Remember the 33 bones that form the spinal column? These are called the vertebrae and they can be divided into five distinct regions:
Interesting Fact: Did you know that only the top 24 vertebrae in the spine are moveable. The bones in the sacrum and coccyx regions of the spine are fused together and immobile.
The reason that the spine is divided up into these 5 regions is because the vertebrae in each perform specific functions and possess unique traits that allow them to perform.
Cervical Region (The Neck)
The cervical region of the spine has one primary function: support the weight of the human head (10 pounds on average). 2 specialized vertebrae in the cervical region give it the greatest range of motion in the spine, but there are 7 vertebrae in total — numbered C1 to C7. C1 is the ring-shaped atlas bone that connects directly to the base of the skull. This vertebrae allows for the nod or “yes” motion of the head. C2 on the other hand is the peg-shaped axis and it allows for the “no” or side-to-side motion of the head.
Thoracic Region (Mid Back)
The middle region of your back is meant for holding rib cage in place and protecting vital organs (heart and lungs). There are 12 thoracic vertebrae (T1 to T12), but the range of motion in this region of the spine is limited.
Lumbar Region (Low Back)
The lower back is primarily responsible for bearing the weight of the human body. There are 5 vertebrae in this section (L1 to L5) and these bones are significantly larger than in other regions of the spine. Their size allows them to effectively bear the brunt of the stress generated by rigorous activities such as lifting heavy objects.
Sacrum Region (Pelvic Girdle)
In the lower regions of the spine, the sacrum’s primary function is to connect the spine to the iliac (hip) bones. There are 5 vertebrae in this region and they are fused together. In conjunction with the iliac bones, this regions forms a ring known as the pelvic girdle.
Coccyx Region (Tailbone)
The coccyx region of the lower spine is comprised of four fused vertebrae. This region is also known as the tailbone, where pelvic floor ligaments and muscles are attached to the spine.
The Spinal Cord
Roughly as thick around as the human thumb, the spinal cord is about 18 inches in length and runs from the brainstem to the first lumbar vertebrae enclosed within the spinal canal. At the base of the spinal cord is the cauda equina, where the cord fibers disperse and continue down through the tailbone into the legs and down into the feet.
Have you heard the term “the spinal cord serves as an information super-highway” before? It’s true! The spinal cord is how the brain quickly relays messages to the rest of the body. Motor messages from the brain tell the body how to move and sensory messages tell the body about what it is able to touch and feel. There are even spinal reflexes, special pathways that allow the body to protect itself instantly without needing to relay information to the brain.
Any damage to the spinal cord is very serious and can cause impaired motor or sensory function.
What Causes Back Pain?
Injury, disease, poor body mechanics or general wear and tear can all impact the spine and cause back pain. These symptoms will range from mild to severe depending on the cause of the pain.
If you are experiencing low back pain, we’d start by determining if it is acute or chronic. Here’s the difference:
Acute Low Back Pain
These symptoms will manifest rapidly and are usually gone within a few days or more. Typically the root cause can be traced to the muscles, ligaments, joints or discs in the spine. Treating acute low back pain normally involves rest or other self-care measures. Sometimes physical therapy may be needed.
Chronic Low Back Pain
If back pain symptoms have persisted for more than 3 months, than we’re looking at a chronic case of low back pain. Causes can include nerve damage, diseases such as arthritis, tissue scarring or emotional stress from pain. Treatment for this is more serious and some may need to speak with a specialist about spinal surgery in Florida.
Common Spine Conditions
Here are some of the most common spine conditions and disorders affecting people in Florida. Please note that Florida Surgery Consultants have the specialists and resources to treat any of these conditions.
Degenerative Disc Disease
This spinal condition causes a weakening of one or more vertebral discs. Since these typically act as a cushion between the bones in spinal column, degenerative disc disease can compress the nerves in the back and cause instability. Unfortunately, the normal aging process makes this spinal condition all too common and prior back injuries can put you at greater risk.
Herniated, Bulging or Slipped Discs
These types of conditions can occur as a result of an injury like a simple fall. People are also at greater risk of suffering a herniated or slipped disc as they get older. Normally, the symptoms can be treated non-invasively, but severe cases may require surgical intervention.
This spinal condition causes an exaggerated rounding of the spine. More common amongst older women, cases have been diagnosed in people of all ages. Older patients have typically developed the condition as a result of osteoporosis or degenerative disc disease. Younger cases are normally linked to bad posture or development issues. In severe cases, kyphosis can produce fractures in the patient’s vertebrae. Milder cases can be treated with a brace or physical therapy, but severe cases may require surgery.
Most cases of this spinal condition are diagnosed in postmenopausal women here in Florida. This is a common problem and is a leading cause of vertebral fractures. Patients who are diagnosed early can see great results with surgical procedures such as Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty. That combined with physical therapy can help patients regain much of the mobility they have lost.
This spinal term is used to describe the narrowing of the spinal canal often linked to degenerative disc disease. Most patients our specialists see with this condition are over the age of 60. Symptoms can get steadily worse over a long period of time, but surgery is not normally recommended unless the situation is more severe. You can schedule a surgical consultation at our nearest clinic if you want to learn more.
Learn more about the spinal conditions we can treat at Florida Surgery Consultants:
- Annular Tear
- Arthritis of the Spine
- Bone Spurs
- Bulging Disc
- Collapsed Disc
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Syndrome
- Herniated Disc
- Ruptured Disc
- SI Joint Pain
- Spinal Stenosis
How Are Spinal Conditions Treated?
The most appropriate treatments for a given spinal condition will vary depending on a complex set of factors. Fortunately, Florida Surgery Consultants employs a team of board certified spine surgeons and orthopedic specialists capable of treating any spinal condition our patients are suffering from.
Combining advanced diagnostic tools with extensive medical experience, our Florida clinics are well equipped to handle your case if you are suffering from chronic neck or back pain. Looking for the best spine treatment program in your area? Schedule a consultation with our spine specialists and we will show you the difference.
For severe spinal conditions, neurological spine procedures can yield significant results. However, we take the time with each patient to thoroughly review their treatment options. From injections, to minimally invasive spine procedures to spinal fusions, we can provide you with the very best form of treatment for your back pain symptoms.