At MedStar Georgetown, our goal is to relieve your neck and back pain, and restore your ability to enjoy your favorite activities. One of the best ways to ensure you get the most successful back and spine treatment is to describe your pain accurately and in detail—where it is, when it starts, what helps to relieve it. This way, our neck, back and spine doctors can understand what you are dealing with. Consider the following questions when thinking about describing your pain to your MedStar back and spine specialist:
- When does the pain happen?
- How long does it last? Does the pain come and go? Or is it there all the time?
- Is this pain new? Have you ever had this pain before?
- Does it hurt in more than one place?
- Does it feel like it's on the inside or on the outside of your body?
- Does the pain keep you from doing certain things?
- Does pain interrupt your sleep? Does it change your mood? Affect your appetite?
- What makes the pain better? What makes it worse? What have you tried to relieve the pain?
Once your doctor understands and diagnoses your pain, they can focus on treating your back and spine problems with a combination of these approaches:
- Multidisciplinary collaboration: We combine our expertise with guidance from any other relevant specialists for the most comprehensive care options.
- Conservative management: Whenever possible, we encourage you to try non-surgical options, and focus on resolving your pain with non-surgical options like physical therapy and medication.
- Patient Education: We teach you and your family about your condition and answer all of your questions. We take time to discuss the possible treatment options and weigh the risks and benefits of each one. Together, we will decide which treatment option will be most appropriate for your needs
Read more about the treatments available from MedStar Orthopaedic physicians.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Back and Neck Pain
Different kinds of pain respond to different kinds of treatment. Your doctor or nurse may want to include these non-surgical therapies in your treatment plan:
- Epidural steroid injections are anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications injected into the spinal canal. They're used to decrease swelling and the pain associated with it. Candidates for this procedure suffer from herniated/bulging or degenerated discs.
- Epidural lyses of adhesion are injections of medication at an affected nerve root to dissipate scar tissue and help decrease chronic low back pain.
- Facet joint blocks are anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications injected into a facet joint, which are located on the back of the spine where the vertebrae overlap and help guide the movement of the spine. Patients with degenerative disc disease and increased weight and pressure on the joint will benefit from the procedure.
- Nerve root blocks are injections to relieve pain in the nerves that exist directly off the spinal cord. The nerve that's causing the pain is pinpointed and blocked.
- Radio frequency ablation heats a nerve to eliminate its function, thereby eliminating the pain triggered by that nerve.
- Sacroiliac joint injections reduce inflammation and discomfort in the hip joint.
- Intradiscal electrothermal therapy heats a needle inserted into a painful disk to eliminate the pain receptors there. This procedure can help patients with chronic disc pain who wish to avoid surgery, or for patients whose previous surgery has been unsuccessful.
Every patient who walks the doors at MedStar Health gets a personalized education on their own back condition and the surgical options available. We have multidisciplinary teams of back and spine specialists throughout the central Maryland and Washington region, including neurosurgeons, physiatrists, rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical and occupational therapists. Our experts are trained in the latest techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of disorders, conditions, and injuries of the spine. Together, we determine the source of your pain and treat it as effectively as possible.
Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar Spinal Surgery
Pain in these areas is generally first treated with some combination of medication and physical therapy. If the pain does not improve after some months of these treatments, surgery can become an option. Surgery can help a variety of back conditions, including:
Learn more about cervical spinal surgery.
Learn more about thoracic and lumbar spinal surgery.
Microscopic and Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
During minimally invasive techniques, MedStar Health surgeons make a small incision and use advanced computer technology and specialized instruments to repair back and spine conditions. In microscopic surgery, we combine minimally invasive techniques with highly sensitive, cutting-edge surgical microscopes to access even the most delicate areas with precision.
Minimally invasive techniques offer patients:
- Faster recovery time than traditional spinal surgery
- Reduced infection
- Reduced blood loss
- Faster return to your regular lifestyle
Learn more about minimally invasive spinal surgery at MedStar Georgetown.
Motion-Sparing Spinal Surgery
Traditional fusion surgery merges the vertebrae, which relieves pain and pressure, but also restricts your ability to move. Motion-sparing spinal surgery gives you the best of both worlds—it relieves pressure on your spinal cord and preserves your range of motion. Motion-sparing techniques can be used in cervical artificial disk replacement and laminoplasty (removing spinal cord pressure from cervical spine stenosis)
Learn more about motion-sparing spinal surgery.
Spinal Deformity Surgery
If you or your child suffers from a spinal deformity, the orthopaedic spine surgeons at MedStar Health will work to correct the problem with braces and other non-surgical approaches. In most cases, we try not to treat scoliosis and other spinal deformities with surgery, but if more conservative treatments do not improve the deformity, surgery may be the best option. MedStar Health orthopaedic surgeons always take time to explain the risks and benefits of any procedure and help our patients come to a decision that feels right. We also work with any other specialists involved, so treatment is multidisciplinary and comprehensive. Surgery to treat spinal deformities, including scoliosis and kyphosis, straighten the spine and/or release the pressure on spinal nerves. This often requires uniting the vertebrae using special implants to keep the spine together.
Learn more about spinal deformity surgery.
The unique spine care program at MedStar Health features talented physical therapists working closely with a variety of physicians to obtain the best outcome for conservative treatment. Our therapists are continually enhancing their knowledge with up-to-date techniques regarding back and neck care.
Learn more about spine rehabilitation at MedStar Georgetown.
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See below for resources to inform your spine treatment and care at MedStar Georgetown orthopaedics.