One of the most common complaints made to any physician is low back and/or neck pain. Here at Castle Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, S.C., we strive to treat all disorders pertaining to the spine with compassion and appropriate urgency. The majority of spine complaints can be treated effectively by our excellent staff of physical therapists, along with the use of medications when needed. Sometimes, however, surgical expertise is required. One of the most common conditions we see is a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. The disc is the shock absorber to the spine, and over the years it may become more brittle and susceptible to rupture. Every effort is made to treat this condition without surgery, but often all conservative efforts fail, and microsurgery may be indicated. During microsurgery an operative microscope is utilized which allows for a smaller skin incision, which also leads to less trauma to the surrounding soft tissues of the spine. This and other newer minimally invasive surgical techniques allow for shorter hospital stays and less postoperative pain.
Another common complaint is chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease. Normally a condition of an aging spine, sometimes disc degeneration may result from an episode of trauma that occurred many years earlier. Occaisionally, this disorder may require surgical management. In this setting surgery may involve fusion of the spine, or even disc replacement. Fusion of the spine limits the movement of a painful disc segment, and is currently the standard method of surgical treatment for disorders such as spondylolisthesis (slipped spine) and fractures, in addition to its occasional use in degenerative disc disease. Disc replacement is currently an option for single segment degenerative disc disease. A disc replacement is a mechanical device implanted in the disc space that helps the disc segments to maintain motion. It currently has FDA approval, however not all insurance plans approve and cover this procedure.