December 1st, 2010
Recently, I had the honor of traveling to Beijing at the invitation of the Beijing Neurosurgical Institute to present a lecture on minimally invasive cervical spine surgery. I gave my lecture as part of a seminar and workshop focused on the advancement of neurosurgical training in China. The experience was eye-opening and I gained tremendous insight into the state of neurosurgical and spine care in China. I was surprised to learn that the vast majority of spine surgery in China is performed by orthopedic surgeons, as opposed to both ortho and neurosurgeons. In the United States, and much of the world for that matter, spine surgery is performed by both of these specialties. In China, however, the neurosurgeons have not been largely involved in spine surgery for the most part. This is changing, and there is a very concerted effort […]
November 17th, 2010
Everyone loves to travel, whether it be by airplane, train, or car, but what can we do to prevent back back injuries during these sometimes long and uncomfortable trips? We all get excited about these trips, but some of us dread the travel, particularly if we have pre-existing neck or back conditions. I recently returned from a trip to Beijing, which required 16 hours on a plane each way! It was a long trip, but I was able to do it comfortably and safely by following some of the tips for travel below. Whether you are in first class or couch, drive in a conversion van or a Prius, long trips can be killers on the back and spine. Most seats are not built with the proper support needed, and sitting for long periods of time can lead to back […]
November 10th, 2010
Scoliosis is a spinal deformity characterized by lateral curvatures of the spine AND rotation of the vertebral bodies of the spine. Low back pain is usually the initial symptom, if there is one. Often, patients will live decades before even knowing they have a scoliosis. Scoliosis is defined as either Functional or Structural. Functional scoliosis can be due to malpositioning or unilateral paraspinal muscle spasm. With functional scoliosis, there is NO significant vertebral body rotation, and the curve is usually reversible, once the underlying posture or spasm is addressed. Structural scoliosis, however, is NOT reversible; idiopathic scoliosis is the most common and accounts for 80% of structural scoliosis. The cause is unclear, but there appears to be a multifactorial etiology with a genetic predisposition. Within idiopathic scoliosis, the adolescent presentation is the most common. This is the type usually picked […]
November 3rd, 2010
A common diagnosis in the spine is a condition called Degenerative Disc Disease or DDD. This is a condition that spine specialists encounter every day in our clinics, but what is it exactly? The actual definition of DDD is hard to pinpoint as it encompasses a number of processes occurring in your spine, some of which are harmful and some of which are part of the normal wear-and-tear of aging. To understand DDD, one must first understand what a disc does. The discs are shock absorbing structures that fit in between the bony vertebrae of the spine. They act as shock absorbers which contribute to the normal motion and structural support of the spine. Think of the disc as a thick sponge contained within a hard ligamentous shell. As we age, our discs develop tears and begin to dehydrate. This […]
October 27th, 2010
Low back pain is an extremely common condition and one of the most common reasons a person seeks out medical care. Fortunately, back pain typically gets better on its own with little or no medical intervention. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 people with back pain will get better within 1 month. However, there are some things a person can do to help the recovery of back pain along. There are several causes of low back pain with the most common being muscle strain and arthritis. While bed rest can help in the short term, it actually can make matters worse if bed rest goes on for more than a couple of days. Instead, it is recommended to try to resume work and normal activities as soon as possible. Stretching, massage, and physical therapy can also help. A […]
October 20th, 2010
I’ll take a moment now to discuss decompression therapy. I get asked about this type of treatment almost on a daily basis. It seems every time you turn on the television or open the Sunday paper, you see an advertisement for decompression that will “cure” your back pain. Degenerative Disc Disease is a chronic condition, and nearly everyone will have radiologic evidence of it by age 60. So, will it “cure” you? No. Can it help relieve symptoms? Absolutely. However, it’s hardly a new concept. Descriptions of this treatment date to Hippocrates (460-370 BCE), who reported joint manipulation and use of traction. Spinal decompression is a type of traction that works by gently stretching the spine. This can temporarily take pressure off the disks and spinal nerve roots that control your arms and legs. I include traction and decompression in […]
October 13th, 2010
In my medical practice, I see a lot of patients with herniated discs. Many of these patients can be treated with conservative therapies, yet if surgery is needed, there are minimally invasive technologies that can be used. Herniated Discs Lumbar herniated discs are common causes of low back pain which radiates down one or both legs. Herniated discs become symptomatic when they compress or impinge upon nerve roots as they exit the spine adjacent to the disc spaces. The pain caused by a herniated disc is typically described as a “burning” or “tingling” pain, which can become quite debilitating and is often made worse by activities such as bending forward or sitting. At worst, the herniated disc may result in actual weakness of the leg or foot. While it may take several weeks, the pain caused by herniated discs will […]
October 7th, 2010
The Center for Spine Care is pleased to announce the addition of Dallas neurosurgeon Michael J. Musacchio, Jr., M.D. to the medical practice. Dr. Musacchio, a highly skilled neurosurgeon specializing in minimally invasive treatments of the spine, has practiced in the Dallas area for the past two years. He brings a great depth of knowledge and experience to CSC. Dr. Musacchio grew up in Plano, TX, and received his Bachelor’s of Science degree with Highest Distinction from the University of Illinois. He received his Doctor of Medicine from Rush Medical College in Chicago. He completed a General Surgery Internship and completed a Neurosurgery Residency at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Musacchio is a member of many medical organizations such as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons; Congress of Neurological Surgeons; American Medical Association; North American Spine Society; and Texas Association […]
September 29th, 2010
No clinically relevant laboratory studies associated with degenerative disc disease have been found. However, if a malignancy is suggested, lab studies, including determination of the complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and alkaline phosphatase levels and serum protein electrophoresis, may be helpful. Conversely, if a rheumatologic cause of spine pain is considered, then lab tests for antinuclear antibody, rheumatoid factor, uric acid, and HLA-B27 levels may be beneficial. . Written By Nathan Walters, M.D. . To learn more about Center for Spine Care, visit our website!
September 22nd, 2010
EMG stands for electromyography, and NCS stands for nerve conduction studies. These two studies comprise the electrodiagnostic testing that I utilize routinely in my workup of any patient with arm pain, leg pain, or numbness/tingling in the extremity. This test helps determine exactly which nerve root from the spine is involved, as well as detect the presence of any peripheral neuropathy or other nerve entrapment, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome (entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the elbow). There is also prognostic benefit as well. I think this test is extremely valuable in identifying the exact source of nerve involvement and helping my patient and I determine what kind of urgency, or lack of urgency we have. Written By Nathan Walters, M.D. . To learn more about Center for Spine Care, visit our website!
Center for Spine Care offers stem cell therapy as a conservative treatment to promote natural healing for back or neck pain. Utilizing mesenchymal stem cells, this new method is used to treat patients with neck and back pain caused from degenerative disc disease.