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What are common causes of back pain?

Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point. In most circumstances the cause is not identifiable and the pain is self-limited. Rarely is there a problem that requires surgical intervention.

What types of conditions warrant surgery?

Again, most patients who experience neck or back pain will not require surgery and will improve with conservative management. Pain that radiates down the arms or legs, and neurological signs such as weakness, numbness, balance difficulty, bowel/bladder problems, are some symptoms that may benefit from surgical decompression.

What can I do to help prevent further recurrences of pain?

There are ways to improve your spine health and prevent recurrences of pain. Simply maintaining a healthy body by performing daily exercise and avoiding excessive body weight will help ensure a healthy spine.

What is degenerative disc disease?

This is a condition where the intervertebral disc, the gel-like material between the vertebra, has begun to wear out due to aging, repetitive stress, smoking, genetics, etc. In most circumstances the cause is multi-factorial, and unless there is compression of the nerves or spinal cord, will not improve with surgery. It is a very common condition and may not even cause symptoms in many people. Surgery is rarely indicated just for the treatment of back pain in the patient with degenerative disc disease.

Are there any alternatives to a spine fusion?

Studies of disc replacement have shown equal results to spine fusion in the cervical spine or neck. There are more problems with disc replacement in the lumbar spine or lower back. It should be kept in mind that not every spinal condition requires a spine fusion. In addition, spine fusion is a successful procedure when performed for the right reasons and not necessarily a bad thing.

How do I know if I am a candidate for spine surgery?

The majority of degenerative conditions that may require or benefit from a spinal surgery are those where there is pain that radiates down the arms or legs, have associated numbness or weakness, and have not improved with non-operative care. Spine surgery is the last resort and many patients improve with more conservative treatments done first. Your primary care physician should begin treatment with these modalities, and if things do not improve it is time to consult with a spine surgeon.

What causes of neck or back pain are more serious and may constitute an emergency?

Although rare, tumors and infection can cause neck, back, or radicular pain and are serious conditions that require urgent treatment. Some fractures and disc herniations can cause severe neural compression and may also constitute an emergency.

Do you perform minimally invasive surgery?

I have been trained to perform many procedures using minimally invasive techniques. They can be very successful for some conditions. In others, they might not be the right modality of treatment and might not produce good results. Treatment is always tailored to the individual patient in an effort to produce the best possible outcomes!



Houston Methodist Orthopedics
& Sports Medicine

6445 Main St. Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77030

Houston Methodist Orthopedics
& Sports Medicine

5505 W. Loop South Fwy
Houston, TX 77081