Back and neck pain are common conditions, affecting the majority of people at some point during their lifetime. Approximately 80 percent of adults experience painful spinal conditions, which is why low back and neck pain are among the most frequent reasons for missed days of work, ER visits, and job-related disability.
Back and neck pain specialists can diagnose the underlying cause of a patient’s symptoms and offer targeted treatment programs. While most issues are related to minor musculoskeletal sprains, sometimes there are more serious underlying conditions involved. The spinal column (vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs, facet joints, and spinal ligaments) may be degenerated or injured. Degenerative diagnoses such as herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, facet disease, degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, and osteophytes may be the culprit. If the spinal nerves are affected, the pain may include symptoms such as sciatica, radiculopathy (radiating arm pain, radiating leg pain), nerve pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. If the spinal cord is involved, patients may have a condition known as myelopathy, which means dysfunction of the spinal cord. Once nerve damage occurs, it may be permanent and irreversible, so it is important to obtain a diagnosis from the right professional and receive treatment in a timely fashion.
It is also important for your neck and back pain specialist to be trained to recognize which spinal conditions are fairly routine and can be successfully treated with standard conservative measures in the outpatient setting, and which conditions are more serious and require urgent evaluation and treatment. Sometimes this may require inpatient admission to a hospital. Rarely, a patient’s spinal condition may require urgent surgery. Emergency situations include conditions such as cauda equina syndrome, spine infections including osteomyelitis and discitis, cancer of the spine (both primary and metastatic) resulting in spinal cord compression, and spinal trauma resulting in unstable spine fractures or epidural hematomas.
While most spinal conditions can be successfully managed without surgery, neurosurgeons are the back and neck pain specialists who are best equipped to provide comprehensive care and determine the next steps in treatment. By working in both outpatient clinics and the inpatient setting, neurosurgeons are able to provide expedited diagnostic evaluation and treatment. If a patient requires urgent spine surgery, neurosurgeons are among the only spine specialists who can provide this service. Because neurosurgeons have the most extensive surgical training of any neck and back pain specialist, and also have specialized skills in microscopic surgery, they are also the best prepared to minimize risk and successfully deal with potential complications.
When choosing a neck and back pain specialist, having a neurosurgeon as your partner will give you peace of mind of knowing you are working with the best. Here at Virginia Neurosurgeons, all of our surgeons are members of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, an organization dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to promote the highest quality of patient care. Click here to contact us for more information.
Have questions? Schedule a consultation today to discuss your treatment plan with our surgeons.