CONDITIONS

Arthritis

Swelling and Pain around the joints that usually worsens with age. Arthritis can present in two forms, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis results when the immune system attacks the lining of the joint itself, causing the synovial membrain to inflame. Osteoarthritis  causes a degeneration of the protective tissues between two joints. As cartilage diminishes, the bones of the joint grind together, leading to pain and inflammation. 

Back Spasms

Unconscious muscle movement around the spinal column. Back spasms can sometimes result from damage to the back muscles, tendons or ligaments. Most of the time, Doctors can treat this damage non-operativly. However, if the spasm comes from nerve damage, patients may require surgical intervention to truly repair the damage. If spasms occur after an injury or another activity that causes stress to the muscles, try alternating ice and heat on the back. heat improves blood flow and Ice helps to reduce inflammation. When it comes to Back Pain Medicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants may help relieve back pain while the muscles recover. Research supports that muscle relaxing medicine provides significant back pain relief in short-term muscle spasms. Injections of an anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone) may also help.  Chiropractic medicine may also help pain from back spasms, but make sure to have a physician properly diagnose your condition first. Back Pain Specialists often recommend Physical therapy to help strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, as long as patients have healthy enough muscles for exercise.

Spinal Tumors

Tumors, either malignant or benign, that reside in or around the spinal column. Symptoms can include muscle weakness or instability, fatigue, or numbness and tingling in the limbs. Depending on the case, Neurosurgeons may choose to operate on the tumor, or may simply put the patient on chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Doctors call spinal tumors that originate in the spine “Primary Spinal Tumors”. They appear relatively rarely, typically benign (noncancerous) and represent a small percentage of spinal tumors. Malignant tumors also sometimes originate in the spine, although cancerous tumors tend to spread to the spine from elsewhere in the body.

Metastatic spinal tumors can spread to the spine from other areas of the body. If a tumor can spread, this confirms its malignancy. Between 30 and 70 percent of cancer patients also develop metastatic spine cancer in addition to their original cancer during the course of their disease. Lung, prostate, and breast cancers commonly tend to spread to the spine.

Bradykinesia

A neurological condition seen as an early symptom of Parkinsons Disease. Results in slower, less responsive motor skills. Patients with Bradykinesia will have a difficult time initiating simple movements, such as standing up. They will also present with slower than usual automatic movements such as blinking or moving their arms when walking. Neurologists require a patient present both Bradykinesia and a tremor or stiffness to make a full Parkinsons diagnosis.

Brain Hemorrhage

A blood vessle burst inside the skull. Doctors classify Brain Hemorrhages as an emergency condition. Brain Hemmorrhages can cause death and require immediate medical attention. Patients may experience difficulty speaking or walking, possibly acompanied by numbness or weakness in the face. Patients will need to stay in the Intensive Care Unit and take medications, and depending on the situation, undergo surgery.

Brain Tumors

An unnatural growth of cells inside the brain. Symptoms can include severe headaches, muscle weakness or instability, dizziness, vertigo, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, numbness and tingling in the limbs, blurred vision, mental fogginess, inability to speak or understand language, seizures, and personality change. Depending on the case, Neurosurgeons may choose to operate on the tumor, or may simply put the patient on chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Bulging Disc

A condition where intense pressure or degenerative disease has caused a vertebral disc to impinge the nerve inside the spinal canal. Occurs when a vertebral disc extrudes outward due to intense pressure. Usually injury related, this condition may cause pain or numbness in the legs. Bulging Discs may occur due to many different causes. Natural wear and tear from aging remains the most common cause of disc injuries, with Men between the ages of 20 and 50 presenting with the highest rates of disc injuries. Surgeons may suggest a microdiscectomy, in which the neurosurgeon makes a small incision in the area of the disc, and arthroscopically removed the damaged pieces of the disc so that it no longer presses against the spinal nerve.

Carpal Tunnel

Pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand. Caused by a tightening of tissues in the wrist that cut off circulation to the nerve. In the wrist there lies a tendon that stretches across the wrist like a watch band, and the nerve controlling the hand runs underneath it. Through overuse, this band can thicken and tighten, impinging the wrist nerve and causing pain and discomfort. Do not confuse with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, which has similar symptoms, but comes from Elbow Overuse Injuries like Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow.

Cavernoma

A cluster of abnormal blood vessels, usually found in the brain and spinal cord. A Cavernoma often does not cause any symptoms, although the blood vessels that make up a Cavernoma tend to have thinner walls than other vessels, making them prone to internal bleeding. If a Cavernoma bleeds or presses on the brain or spinal cord, it can cause problems. Serious Cavernoma symptoms can include weakness, dizziness, headaches and seizures. Physicians still do not fully understand what causes Cavernomas, other than that they tend to run in families.

Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopia 

A tightening of the area around the brain stem, also referred to as Chiari Malformation, a birth defect of varying severity. Due to a genetic defect in a developing fetus, Chiari Malformation shrinks the space at the back of the skull, putting pressure on the growing brain and pushing the developing cerebellar tonsils downwards through the opening in the skull. The most prominant sign of Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopedia consists of sudden headaches immediatly following coughing or sneezing. While Chiari Malformation can have serious effects, neurologists classify the disease as uncommon, with the most severe form appearing even less frequently.

Cervical Disc Disease

A degeneration of the vertibral discs in the neck region. Most of the time, the rubbery discs between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers, allowing for flexing and bending of the neck. Over time, they wear down, and no longer offer as much protection.  Although physicians still call it a Disease, Degenerative Discs actually come about through the natural aging process.  The break down of one or more spinal discs can cause pain, tingling or numbness that radiates outward from the affected area.

Cervicalgia

Otherwise known as simple neck pain. Pain in the neck and shoulder that varies in intensity, often described as “a crick in the neck”. Cervicalgia may feel achy or like an electric shock from the neck to the arm. Although sometimes painful, Cervicalgia does not necessarily stem from an underlying disease or condition. Cervicalgia can simply arise from daily strain, or sleeping in certain positions. Physicians typically recommend applying ice and heat to the area, as well as taking simple over the counter pain killers like Ibuprofin. 

Chiari Malformation

A birth defect of varying severity. Due to a genetic defect in a developing fetus, Chiari Malformation shrinks the space at the back of the skull, putting pressure on the growing brain and pushing the developing cerebellar tonsils downwards through the opening in the skull. The most prominant sign of Chiari Malformation consists of sudden headaches immediatly following coughing or sneezing. While Chiari Malformation can have serious effects, neurologists classify the disease as uncommon, with the most severe form appearing even less frequently.

Compression Fracture

Due to the effects of aging combined with osteoporosis, bones tend to degenerate and weaken as we get older. Osteoporosis induced fractures occur most often in the lower spinal vertebrae, and tend to appear after a traumatic impact such as a car accident, sports injury, or even falling down at home. Depending on the severity of the injury, compression fractures can range from not very painful to extremely painful, with the latter requiring immediate medical attention. In severe compression fractures, shattered pieces of bone can press into the spinal nerve causing pain, loss of feeling in the legs and loss of bladder and bowel control.

Cushing Syndrome

Also known as Hypercortisolism. A disorder caused by extreme overexposure to the steroid hormone “cortisol” in the bloodstream due to a small tumor in the petuitary gland. Common symptoms include rapid weight gain in the face, back and midsection, along with weight loss in the arms and legs. Other symptoms may include acne, muscle loss or muscle weakness. Surgeons may often remove the petuitary tumor in order to reduce the excess cortisol in the bloodstream.

Cysts

Abnormal pockets of fluid build-up caused by a variety of reasons. Cysts cover a wide array of problems and can appear almost anywear in the body. Although usually non-cancerous, Cysts can cause large amounts of pain depending on the area they grow in. If a Spinal Cyst presses on the spinal nerve root, patients may experience pain, numbness or tingling radiating outward from the affected area.

The process of diagnosing a cyst involves taking a detailed medical history, physical exam and laboratory testing.  

The primary care physician provider will ask questions about the patient’s symptoms, past medical conditions and family’s medical history. After ruling out other causes of the symptoms the primary care physician will refer them to a neurosurgeon (a surgeon who performs brain or spinal cord surgery).

Degenerative Disc Disease

A degeneration of the discs inbetween the spinal vertibrae. Most of the time, the rubbery discs between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers, allowing for flexing and bending of the back. Over time, they wear down, and no longer offer as much protection.  Although physicians still call it a Disease, Degenerative Discs actually come about through the natural aging process.  The break down of one or more spinal discs can cause pain, tingling or numbness that radiates outward from the affected area.

Foot Drop

A general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot. This usually causes a patient to unintentionally drag the front of the foot on ground as they walk. While not a disease itself, Neurologists take Foot Drop as a sure sign of an underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problem. Patients who habitually cross their legs, kneel for prolonged periods of time, or have their leg in a cast may tend towards Foot Drop, due to compressing the foot nerve that sits close to the surface on the outside of the knee.

Facet Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis that effects the Facet joints. Facet Joints sit towards the back of the spine and connect the vertibrae. These Facets control the spine’s range of motion as well as provide support for each individual vertebrae. By itself, Facet Arthritis can cause pain and irritation as the facets degrade and grind on each other. Additionally, Facet Arthritis can encourage the growth of bone spurs (Osteophytes), and cause the joint tissues to thicken, leading to more serious conditions such as Stenosis. This places increasing pressure on the spinal nerve, causing pain, tingling and numbness in the lower body.

Hemifacial Spasm

A disorder of the nervous system in which one side of the face twitches involuntarily. Usually caused when a blood vessel in the head grows in such a way that it brushes a facial nerve, causing an impingement. As a conservative measure, a Brain specialist may inject Botox into the affected area to freeze the spasming muscle groups. Although effective, patients must repeat the procedure every couple months as it wears off. As a final measure, a Brain Surgeon may perform a Craniotomy to remove a section of the skull, locate the base of the facial nerve and place a small sponge inbetween the nerve and blood vessal that caused the irritation.

Herniated Disc

Occurs when a vertibral disc extrudes outward due to intense pressure. Usually injury related, this condition may cause pain or numbness in the legs. Herniated Discs may occur due to many different causes. Natural wear and tear from aging remains the most common cause of disc injuries, with Men between the ages of 20 and 50 presenting with the highest rates of disc injuries. Surgeons may suggest a microdiscectomy, in which the neurosurgeon makes a small incision in the area of the disc, and arthroscopically removed the damaged pieces of the disc so that it no longer presses against the spinal nerve.

Hypercortisolism

Also known as Cushing’s Disease or Cushing’s Syndrome. A disorder caused by extreme overexposure to the steroid hormone “cortisol” in the bloodstream due to a small tumor in the petuitary gland. Common symptoms include rapid weight gain in the face, back and midsection, along with weight loss in the arms and legs. Other symptoms may include acne, muscle loss or muscle weakness. Surgeons may often remove the petuitary tumor in order to reduce the excess cortisol in the bloodstream.

Moyamoya Disease

a rare condition in which the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain become narrowed. This limits the flow of blood to the brain, and puts them at risk for stroke. Moyamoya Disease mainly presents in children, although patients of any age may suffer from the disease. Around the narrowed blood vessel, many smaller vessels grow outward in a cluster to compensate for the blockage. The first symptoms of Moyamoya include a stroke or series of mini-strokes caused by the decrease of blood to the brain.

Neuroma

A painful condition that results from a pinched nerve in the foot. Between the 3rd and 4th toes of th foot, the foot nerve may sometimes produce a benign growth that puts pressure on the area. Patients describe a Neuroma as feeling like a painful burning sensation in between the toes and ball of the foot, accompanied by numbness and tingling. Conservative measures include bracing or bandaging the foot, along with wearing special shoes. If the Neuroma persists, surgery to remove the growth may offer relief.

Osteoarthritis

The most common form of arthritis. Occurs when protective cartilage inside joints wears down, allowing bones to grind together and damage each other. Contrast with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which occurs as a consequence of the body’s immune system attacking the joint lining, Osteoarthritis presents far more often. Most of the time, Physicians treat Osteoarthritis conservativly, attempting pain relief through medication, physical therapy, as well as Epidural Steroid Injections. 

Osteopenia

A natually occuring degeneration of bone mass that usually occures with age. As we age past 35, bone mass begins to degenerate. Osteopenia refers to an increased rate of degridation that can occur in any patient, but presents most often in women. Patients suffering from Osteopenia present a much higher risk for stenosis and injury than younger patients without Osteopenia, as well as having a higher risk of Osteoarthritis.

Paralysis

Paralysis may occur from a variety of other conditions. Caused when the nerves carrying electrical signals from the brain can no longer properly transmit their signal to the limbs. Severe trauma or extreme degradation can damage a nerve to the point of no longer transmitting a signal back and forth between the brain and target body part.

Slipped Disc

Also known as a Herniated Disc. Occurs when a vertibral disc extrudes outward due to intense pressure. Usually injury related, this condition may cause pain or numbness in the legs. In extreme cases, a slipped disc in the lumbar (or “lower”) spine can cause the spinal column to shift off-center, causing pain and pressure on the central nerve in a condition known as Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis may occur from a variety of causes, from high impact trauma to age related degradation or Osteoporosis. A Neurosurgeon operating on a Spondylolisthesis will most likely perform a Discectomy to remove the damaged or hemorrhaged disc and replace it with and artificial support before fusing the vertebrae directly above and below the area.

Spinal Stenosis

In the spine, arthritis can result as the vertebral discs degenerate and lose their flexibility, causing the joints in the spine to collapse and thicken. Osteoarthritis combined with normal wear and tear commonly lead to Spinal Stenosis. Stenosis may sometimes result from spinal injuries or tumors within the spinal column. This places increasing pressure on the spinal nerve, causing pain, tingling and numbness in the lower body.

Sciatica

Sciatica refers to a neurological condition of the lower spine.  Patients often describing radiating pain and numbness from the lower back down the legs. Sciatica may also feel “sharp” like a leg cramp, and may last for days at a time. The most common causes of sciatica pain includes a bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (also known as spinal stenosis) which compresses part of the nerve, or a herniated disc. Due to natural deterioration of the vertebral discs in the lower spine, Sciatica most often affects patients between the ages of 30 and 50 years.

Spondylolisthesis

A spinal condition that causes lower back pain. Also known as a “Slipped Disc”, It occurs when one of your vertebrae, the bones of your spine, slips out of place onto the vertebra below it. Spondylolisthesis may occur from a variety of causes, from high impact trauma to age related degradation or Osteoporosis. A Neurosurgeon operating on a Spondylolisthesis will most likely perform a Discectomy to remove the damaged or hemorrhaged disc and replace it with and artificial support before fusing the vertebrae directly above and below the area.

Synovial Cyst

Abnormal fluid-filled sacs in the joints of the spine. Though highly uncommon, Synovial Cysts may sometimes cause spinal stenosis. Synovial Cysts typically develop as a result of degenerative changes that occur with aging. As the Facet Joints connecting the spinal vertebrae deteriorate due to arthritis, they can begin to pinch the nerves and blood vessels traveling away from the spine, leading to irritation and swelling of the Synovial fluid sacs that lubricate spinal motion.

Tingling in the Legs

May result from many different causes. Whenever an outside source applies pressure to a nerve over long periods of time, that nerve will cause a “tingling” sensation further down the nerve. Tingling in the legs most likely indicates that a patient has some sort of Stenosis or other pressure build up in the lower spine. See your Spinal Specialist for more information.