Solving Disc & Vertebra Conditions in San Antonio, Texas
Offering surgical, minimally invasive and nonsurgical solutions for these incredibly common sources of pain.
The spine is made up of alternating sections of bone (called “vertebrae”) and soft, jelly-like spacers (called “discs”). These contain and protect your spinal cord — the bundle of nerves that runs from your brain to your lower back and provides sensation to your entire body. When these discs and vertebrae degenerate, misalign or deviate in some way from their “normal” structure, they can put pressure on the nerves, which causes pain that ranges from mild to debilitating.
Choose the neurosurgeons and pain management specialists who have decades of successful diagnostic and treatment outcomes.
Our specialists can relieve a wide range of disc and vertebra conditions. No matter what your diagnosis is, Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants offers the professional network and collaborative care you need to return to your life. Whether your condition requires physical therapy, nonsurgical treatments or surgery, our San Antonio back surgeons work together to maximize your comfort and long-term outcome. Most of our care options are available without leaving the building—which is one of the most comprehensive neurosurgical and pain management facilities in Texas.
Here are some of the most common conditions we see and treat:
Herniated, Bulging & Ruptured Discs
Spinal discs have soft centers and tough exteriors, which allows them to bend while remaining firm… sometimes. These tough exteriors can crack, causing the soft inner material to bulge out. This bulge can sometimes irritate nearby nerves, causing pain, weakness, numbness and tingling that radiates through your limbs, which is a symptom known as radiculopathy. As the most mobile sections of the spine, your neck and lower back are the most common areas to suffer from disc herniation.
- Cervical (neck) – Cervical herniated discs will often produce symptoms that start in the neck and radiate through the shoulder, continue down the arm and sometimes even affect the hand. This symptom is called cervical radiculopathy.
- Lumbar (lower back) – Often caused by lifting heavy objects with improper form, lumbar herniated discs can send severe pain shooting down the back of your leg and into your foot. This symptom is officially called lumbar radiculopathy but is commonly known as sciatica, and anyone who has suffered from it knows how debilitating it can be!
Diagnosis & Treatment
After listening to your symptoms and performing a physical examination, your physician will likely order imaging to visualize the affected area and help your physician determine the best course of action for relieving your symptoms. These can include X-rays, MRI and CT scans. If you do indeed have one or more herniated discs, we offer multiple treatments to help return you to activity and your normal way of life. These treatments include:
- Conservative therapies – Most of the time, surgery isn’t necessary to relieve pain caused by herniated discs. Rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and perhaps an injection may be all you need to feel better — and we’re happy to help relieve your pain without surgery!
- Discectomy – Generally, if surgery is necessary, we can remove the protruding portion of the disc with a minimally invasive procedure. Most people recover in one-to-two weeks with only a tiny incision.
- Artificial disc replacement – In rare cases, we may need to replace the entire disc with an artificial one in order to relieve your pain.
- Spinal fusion – If your herniated disc procedure requires your surgeon to remove enough tissue that your spine loses stability, he or she may need to fuse two vertebrae together. Much to everybody’s surprise, we can also perform this procedure with minimally invasive techniques!
Often caused by trauma or bone fragility due to osteoporosis, fractured vertebrae can be a significant source of back pain. When a vertebra fractures, your spine’s structural force transfers to the connected facet joints, often overloading them and causing additional pain that will worsen over time. If you think you may have fractured a vertebra, it’s crucial to seek immediate care so that your spine doesn’t deteriorate further! Fortunately, we can effectively treat this common condition with nonsurgical methods, which include:
- Back brace – A back brace—which we fit and dispense right in our office—provides the structure you need to let your fractured vertebra(e) heal, while also relieving your pain.
- Injections & OTC medication – Our pain management physicians can use injections and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and quiet the nerves irritated by the fracture, eliminating or reducing your pain while you heal.
- Vertebroplasty – Using a specialized needle and X-ray guidance, we insert the needle into the damaged vertebra and fill it with a medical-grade cement intended to support bone. This restores the structural integrity of the vertebra and relieves pain.
- Kyphoplasty – Often a fractured vertebra will have collapsed to some extent. A kyphoplasty procedure is similar to a vertebroplasty, except before filling the vertebra with cement, we inflate a balloon inside the bone to restore it’s original shape. This gives the spine a more natural alignment and produces better results when the vertebra has collapsed.
Commonly occuring in the neck and lower back—and more rarely in the middle (thoracic) spine—spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spaces between your vertebrae. When these spaces narrow, they can put pressure on the nerves. This causes a variety of symptoms, depending on the stenosis location.
Neck & Thoracic Stenosis Symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling, weakness or pain that radiates into the arms
- Difficulty walking and balancing
- Neck pain
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
Lower Back Stenosis Symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs or feet
- Back pain that radiates into your legs or feet
- Pain or cramping in your legs when you stand or walk that’s usually relieved by bending forward or sitting down
Diagnosis & Treatment
We can use a variety of imaging tests to determine whether spinal stenosis is the cause of your symptoms, including X-rays, MRI and CT scans. After diagnosing spinal stenosis, we can use a number of advanced treatments, ranging from conservative to surgical, to help resolve your pain. These treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections – Temporarily reduces inflammation.
- Nonsurgical decompression – Removal of a thickened ligament from the back of the spinal column using needle-like instruments.
- Laminar decompression surgery – Depending on the nature of your spinal stenosis, we can perform a number of surgical procedures that remove or modify the back of the affected vertebra (called the “lamina”). These procedures create space to relieve pressure on nearby nerves, eliminating your symptoms.
Degenerative Disc Disease
This refers to the natural loss of flexibility and suppleness that occurs in your discs as you age. Although this condition does not necessarily cause symptoms by itself, it can lead to many other spine and nerve problems, including spinal stenosis, herniated discs and spondylolisthesis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition and are experiencing pain, numbness or other symptoms, it’s important for you to seek the care of one of our skilled specialists. We can identify the impact this condition is having on the rest of your spinal column and provide the most effective treatment for you.
Dedicated to providing you the best diagnosis, treatment and outcome.
For all conditions, we take a conservative approach to care, only progressing to surgery when nothing else has helped relieve your pain. If you’re in pain, seek help! We can typically get you in to see one of our caring providers within 10 business days.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about how Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants specializes in treating disc and vertebra conditions causing neck pain and low back pain in the San Antonio communities of Medical Center, Stone Oak, Westover Hills and Southwest, call 210-255-8935 today. You can also request an appointment using the form on this page.