Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic’s spine team of experts take great interest in guiding their patients on the best strategies for dealing with back problems offering conservative, non-surgical and surgical options for care.
At The Jewett Spine Center, we are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality care relating to back and neck conditions. Founded in 1936 by Eugene L. Jewett, M.D., the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic has been recognized internationally as a pioneer and leader in Spinal care for 80 years. Our leading team of spine specialty physicians provide the latest in treatment options ranging from pain management to some of the most advanced minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques procedures being done in the country. The result is an unmatched quality and continuity of care trusted by hundred of thousands of patients including professional athletes to get them back to the life they love.
Our Spine Experts
Understanding your Spine
Understanding your spine and how it works can help you better understand some of the problems that occur from aging or injury.
Many demands are placed on your spine. It holds up your head, shoulders, and upper body. It gives you support to stand up straight, and gives you flexibility to bend and twist. It also protects your spinal cord.
Your spine is made up of three segments. When viewed from the side, these segments form three natural curves. The “c-shaped” curves of the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) are called lordosis. The “reverse c-shaped” curve of the chest (thoracic spine) is called kyphosis.
These curves are important to balance and they help us to stand upright. If any one of the curves becomes too large or small, it becomes difficult to stand up straight and our posture appears abnormal.
Abnormal curvatures of the spine are also referred to as spinal deformity. These types of conditions include kyphosis of the thoracic spine (“hunchback”) and lordosis of the lumbar spine (“swayback”).
Scoliosis is another type of spinal deformity. When viewing the spine from the front or back, scoliosis is a sideways curvature that makes the spine look more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight “I.”
Common Neck and Back Pain
A common source of back or neck pain is a herniated disk. Sometimes called a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk, this condition most often occurs in the lower back, as well as the smaller disks in the neck.
Although a herniated disk can sometimes be very painful, most people feel much better with just a few months of simple, nonsurgical treatments.
Disks are soft, rubbery pads found between the hard bones (vertebrae) that make up the spinal column. The disks between the vertebrae allow the back to flex or bend. Disks also act as shock absorbers.
Disks in the lumbar spine (low back) are composed of a thick outer ring of cartilage (annulus) and an inner gel-like substance (nucleus). In the cervical spine (neck), the disks are similar but smaller in size.
A disk herniates or ruptures when part of the center nucleus pushes through the outer edge of the disk and back toward the spinal canal. This puts pressure on the nerves. Spinal nerves are very sensitive to even slight amounts of pressure, which can result in pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs.
In children and young adults, disks have high water content. As people age, the water content in the disks decreases and the disks become less flexible. The disks begin to shrink and the spaces between the vertebrae get narrower. Conditions that can weaken the disk include:
- Improper lifting
- Excessive body weight that places added stress on the disks (in the lower back)
- Sudden pressure (which may be slight)
- Repetitive strenuous activities
Surgical Care Treatment
Only a small percentage of patients with disk herniations require surgery. Spine surgery is typically recommended only after a period of nonsurgical treatment has not relieved painful symptoms.
- Lumbar microdiskectomy. This is the most common procedure for a herniated disk in the lower back. Microdiskectomy involves removing the herniated part of the disk and any fragments that are putting pressure on the spinal nerve.
- Cervical diskectomy and fusion. Cervical diskectomy is a procedure for the herniated disk in the neck. To relieve pressure, the entire herniated disk is removed. Bone is placed in the disk space and a metal plate may be used to help support the spine.