Degenerative disk disease
Degenerative disk disease refers to the natural changes that affect the intervertebral disks as you age. Over time, these disks—which act as shock absorbers for the spine—may become brittle or thin. This can cause back pain, stiffness, or instability. Depending on the severity of the condition, medication may alleviate some of the pain. Other patients may respond to rehabilitation and simple lifestyle modifications. Still others will have severe degenerative disk disease that requires surgical intervention, such as spinal fusion or disk replacement surgery. Dr. Banister is experienced in performing anterior spinal fusions and complex cervical and lumbar fusions to treat degenerative disk disease.
The disks that pad the spaces between vertebrae have two main parts—the spongy, shock-absorbing center, called the nucleus; and the fibrous outer layer of the disk, called the annulus. Disk herniation occurs when the annulus is naturally worn down with age and the nucleus breaks through. This herniation does not always cause pain or symptoms, but the herniated disk can sometimes exert pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness, or tingling. The effects of a herniated disk can often be treated with medication and physical therapy, but surgery (such as anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion, lumbar disk microsurgery, or microdiskectomy) may be required, depending on the level of the herniation.
Neck and back disorders
The spine is an extremely complex, sophisticated part of human anatomy. With this complexity comes a host of structures that could be responsible for neck or back pain. This makes diagnosis a challenge, but Dr. Banister is committed to using all different types of diagnostic modalities to pinpoint the cause of the problem. Whether the problem is disk herniation, degenerative disk disease, spondylolisthesis, or another diagnosis entirely, Dr. Banister is able to manage and treat not only the symptoms of the disorder, but the underlying cause itself.
The term sciatica refers to the pain that comes from inflammation or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is a large nerve that branches from the lower spinal cord, through the lower back, hip, buttock, and down the leg. The irritation is usually brought about because something is compressing the nerve—usually a herniated disk or bone spur on the spine. Sciatica is usually responsive to nonsurgical treatment such as anti-inflammatory or pain medications, physical therapy, or steroid injections. In serious cases, usually when the patient experiences leg weakness or incontinence, a surgical procedure called a microdiskectomy is required to alleviate nerve compression.
Spinal stenosis is a painful condition that results from narrowing of the spinal canal. When this space is narrowed, it can compress the spinal cord and spinal nerves, resulting in pain or weakness in the lower extremities. Spinal stenosis can occur at any level in the spine, but it most commonly occurs either at the lumbar level (i.e., the lower back) or at the cervical level (i.e., the neck).
Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis may notice pain or weakness in the legs when walking. This pain is usually relieved by sitting or by flexing forward, as in when leaning over a shopping cart. Spinal stenosis at the cervical level can be very serious, sometimes causing paralysis or permanent loss of function. It is important for patients with spinal stenosis to receive prompt treatment, as some damage may be irreversible. Some cases of spinal stenosis can be treated with medication, lifestyle modifications, or epidural injections. For more severe cases, a surgical procedure called a laminectomy may be required to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
Spondylolisthesis results when a defect in part of the spine causes one vertebra to slip over the one below it. It often presents as back pain, radiating leg pain, or foot numbness, as the slipped vertebra can compress the spinal cord or the spinal nerves. Although it can have many causes, it usually results from arthritis, degenerative disk disease, trauma, or infection. Spondylolisthesis can frequently be effectively managed with rest, physical therapy, and medication. In serious cases, a surgical procedure called an anterior spinal fusion may help reduce compression and stabilize the spine. Spinal fusion is only pursued in extreme cases, as it is a major surgery associated with an extensive healing process.
Vertebral compression fracture
A vertebral compression fracture is a fracture that results from trauma, usually after a fall from a great height in which the individual lands on the feet or buttocks. This type of fracture can also occur in patients with osteoporosis or in patients whose vertebrae may be weakened by another pathology (such as infection or bone cancer). Patients with a vertebral compression fracture may experience back pain, numbness, tingling in the lower extremities, incontinence, or urinary retention. The pain associated with vertebral compression fractures may be alleviated with conservative measures such as anti-inflammatory medication, rest, physical therapy, or bracing. In other patients, surgery may be warranted. Dr. Banister is experienced in performing vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures, which are two of the more common surgical techniques for treating compression fractures of the vertebrae.