Learning More about Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

You may have heard of spinal stenosis, which is a condition where the spinal nerves are choked or crushed. When this condition occurs in the lower back, it is known as lumbar spinal stenosis. This is a condition that Dr. Solomon Kamson deals with quite often, so he can help his patients find a treatment that works best for them.

In most patients, lumbar stenosis is first detected due to pain in the legs while they are walking. When they are at rest, the pain subsides. Some people suffer from sciatica where the pain shoots down one leg. Others feel numbness or tingling that radiates from the lower back down to the buttocks and legs. It most often appears in patients over 50 years of age.

The problem with this is that not all patients have severe pain all the time. It can come and go, and the severity of the pain can differ with each flare up. This makes it difficult to treat. The level which lumbar stenosis affects a person’s quality of life will dictate the type of treatment involved.

Usually, a doctor will not be able to properly diagnose lumbar stenosis by just doing a physical exam. He will request that an MRI or CT Scan be performed. The CT Scan will be done along with a myelogram, which involves inserting a dye into the spinal sac. After a diagnosis is reached, the doctor will need to dig deeper to find out what type of lumbar stenosis it is. This is the only way to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.

There are three types of this condition. The lateral type, which is the most common, occurs when a nerve is compressed by a bulging or herniated disc. Central stenosis occurs when the lower back canal is choked. Foraminal stenosis involves a nerve root in the lower back that is trapped by a bone spur.

Non-surgical Treatment
Solomon Kamson will most likely want to try every non-surgical option possible to manage pain from lumbar stenosis before opting to perform surgery. Patients can be provided with a cane or walker so that they can lean forward when they walk. They can also visit a physical therapist to get a specialized exercise program like stationary biking to alleviate pain. If these options do not work, a patient can take ibuprofen or naproxen. Epidural injections involve injecting steroids into the epidural space. This can reduce pain and swelling from stenosis.

Lumbar Stenosis Surgery
When all else fails to relieve pain, or if it is a very bad case of stenosis, then surgery is the only option. The most common type of surgery for lumber stenosis is a lumbar laminectomy. This works by decompressing the pressure on the spinal cord or nerve. Other types of surgery include a foraminotomy, laminotomy, and microendoscopic decompression. The best course of action is to discuss all of the options with a professional like Dr. Solomon Kamson and decide what will bring the most relief in each unique situation.

When Is Spine Surgery Considered to be Outpatient?

There are many individuals that have the misconception that having spinal surgery is a major surgery and they must stay in the hospital for an extended visit. With minimally invasive spine surgery, this is no longer the case. You will be recovering and relaxing in your own home, in your own bed.

Lumbar Miscrodiscectomy
Lumbar microdiscectomy is a non-abrasive surgery that provides excellent results to those who must undergo surgical treatment to help recover from their lumbar spinal condition. Those who suffer from foot or leg pain, certain amounts of weakness, or even numbness, may have a lumbar condition and may even need this surgery.

When Surgery is the Final Step
Those who exhibit the symptoms of a lumbar spinal condition may have one or more symptoms. There are pain management plans that Dr. Solomon Kamson will set into place in order to minimize the pain and difficulty for you. If one pain management plan does not seem to be working, then Dr. Kamson will try another method to help.

Performing Lumbar Microdiscectomy
This surgery will take approximately an hour to perform. In order to reduce the time needed for recovery, anesthesia that was designed for outpatient surgery is used. The surgeon will use x-ray technology in order to guide him without having to make a larger incision. The smaller the incision that is made, the less muscle and tissue is cut, and the less time it will take to recover from the surgery. This also makes it possible to be an outpatient surgery.

Once Surgery is Complete
Recovery time is cut in more than half compared to what the typical surgery recovery time used to be. When the surgery is done, you will return to your home. The patient is able to walk and even participate in non-strenuous activities. You will have relief from the pain that you have felt for so long. You will be free of the pain that has put difficulty in performing typically daily activities like grocery shopping and cleaning your home.

After Care
It is important to know that even though this surgery is an outpatient surgery, you will need to make preparations to your home prior to the surgical treatment. Placing daily necessities within reach is important. For example, any clothing that will be needed out of the bottom drawers of your bedroom dresser will need to be placed in a more convenient spot. If this is the case, then it is suggested to place a basket on top of the dresser and add the daily clothing to it so less bending is performed. Dr. Solomon Kamson will provide you with other instruction on how to prepare for an easy recovery time and it is highly suggested you follow the instructions and tips.

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: Does It Really Exist?

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) may sound like something that is a figment of a patient’s imagination. However, it is actually referring to chronic back or leg pain that continues after having spine surgery. There is no guarantee that any surgery will be 100 percent effective, and spine or back surgery is no exception. Dr. Solomon Kamson is there for his patients through every step of the process and can address continued pain and come up with a solution.

Any back surgery only comes with up to a 95 percent effective rate. There are really only two issues that spine surgery can definitively correct, which are to decompress a pinched nerve root and stabilize a joint that is causing pain due to movement. The doctor can only predict what he or she thinks is causing the pain and perform the surgery on that area.

Lingering pain is often a result of the fact that the pain the patient is feeling was actually the result of another problem and not caused by the area of the spine that was operated on. The focus of the surgery is to work on a lesion or injury on the spine. It is only evident after the surgery if that part of the anatomy was truly the cause of the patient’s pain.

Other Causes
Failed back surgery syndrome can be a result of issues other than operating on the wrong spot. When a patient had a spinal fusion, there might be a failure to fuse or the implant might not work as it should. The pain may also shift to another part of the spine after a fusion. In the case of spinal stenosis, it may be a recurring problem that cannot be remedied permanently. When decompression is performed, the nerve damage might not heal or new nerve damage might occur during spine surgery. Scar tissue may form around the surgical site, which can make pain return. There is also the possibility that a patient may reinjure themselves, causing the pain to come back even worse that it was before. This often happens when patients do not stick to the rehabilitation plan laid out by the physician.

Overcoming Obstacles
Most patients need to realize that spine surgery is not a cure for back pain. It is a common misconception that it is a permanent fix and that there will be no pain after the recovery period has ended. Each patient must carefully follow the rehabilitation plan that is established. This often includes months or years of physical therapy to keep the back in the best shape. It is also important not to push physical activity before the back has had a chance to heal, or this may cause more pain or further injury. Continued visits to Dr. Kamson will allow him to monitor the patient’s progress and see if any new therapies or medications need to be added to the plan. With continued therapy and monitoring, most patients should be able to manage pain with failed back surgery syndrome.

Differences between Herniated and Bulging Discs

One who suffers from herniated or bulging discs not only experience loss of flexibility and motion, he or she will endure intense pain and can fall victim to other conditions and repercussions. For instance, relationships and work will be subject to the effects of the condition. There are certain activities that they are not able to participate in due to the spinal condition. Solomon Kamson understands this issue and works to fix the condition so his patients will get right back out to the active world.

The discs in the spine act as shock absorbers or cushions for the protection of the vertebrae. The discs are composed of a layer on the outside for strength and a center of softer cartilage for the shock absorption. They are round with an opening in the middle, sort of like a doughnut. Each disc is perfectly proportioned to fit within the spine.

What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is quite different from a bulging disc. A herniated disc is a fracture to the outer layer of the disc. The fracture allows the cartilage to protrude through the outer layer. This is typically in one area of the disc. Other names for this condition are ruptured discs or slipped discs. Dr. Solomon Kamson will be able to repair the problem and render you pain free. There are pain management systems available for those who suffer from the pain. After the proper diagnosis and consultation about treatment; the next step is decided on by the patient and the doctor.

What is a bulging disc?
A bulging disc is a disc that extends past the limits of where it is supposed to be located. Normally, this issue will affect a large portion of the disc. This is also a condition that is brought on by the average aging process. Other age groups do fall victim of this condition, due to injuries most commonly, so it is not limited to the older generations.

Bulging discs are more widely known among those who have one or the other of these conditions. There are even some lucky individuals who do have one of these conditions and are unaware of it because they do not experience any pain. Although they are lucky to have no pain, these sufferers will go on to develop pain, and the condition may be worse if they wait too long to get the disc corrected.

In order to discover which condition you may have in your spine, you will need to see Dr. Kamson. He will perform testing and ask questions in order to properly diagnose the issue. Once the diagnosis is known, he will educate you on the choice for your pain management. The team at the Spine Institute Northwest will be able to help you return to a healthier state.

Causes and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Those who suffer from spinal stenosis are no strangers to the pain that comes along with this debilitating condition. It is the narrowing of the spaces that are located in the spine. This causes a certain amount of pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves. In approximately 75% of cases, this condition is located in the lumbar section of the spine (the lower back). In most cases, there is a narrowing in the spine that is associated with compression on the nerve root. This will cause pain that shoots down the back of the leg.

There are many causes for this condition. Many individuals fall into more than one of the groups. If you find that you fall into more than one group, this means that the risk for this condition increases, and it is imperative that you speak with a qualified surgeon like Solomon Kamson.

Aging: Over a certain amount of time, the human body will be subject to wear and tear. With greater age comes more damage to the body’s ligaments, which are the tough connective tissues between the bones in the spine. These ligaments will thicken. Bone spurs can and often times will develop. Also, the vertebrae will start to deteriorate over years.

Arthritis: There are two types of arthritis that will affect the spine: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For a proper diagnosis, see Dr. Solomon Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest.

Heredity: If there are x-rays done at a young age and the spine is considered to be small, this may mean that spinal stenosis will show up at an earlier age. There may be structural deformities that are apparent and will cause narrowing in the child’s spinal canal.

Trauma: Many accidents or other types of injuries can cause an individual to develop spinal stenosis. The injury may cause discs in the spine to dislocate, leading to the disorder. The injury may even result in fractures and cause bone fragments to penetrate the spinal canal.

Tumors: In some cases, those who suffer from spinal stenosis will have another health condition they may be unaware, including tumors on the spine. Any such growth on the spinal canal will cause extra pressure and less space, which results in the spinal stenosis condition. Removal of the tumor should alleviate the pressure that the tumor causes, which will result in the spinal stenosis condition being reversed.

Spinal stenosis can cause different symptoms in certain cases. Typically a spinal stenosis sufferer will endure more than one of the symptoms. The symptoms that are typically reported are frequent falling or clumsiness, pain, difficulty while walking, numbness, hot or cold feelings in the legs, and tingling. Dr. Solomon Kamson and the team at the Spine Institute Northwest can help with a proper diagnosis and a pain management system. Not only will he be able to set a pain management system into place, he will do testing and find a solution to the condition itself.

Artificial Disc Replacement

The spinal column has discs inside to provide the spine with a type of cushion to limit spinal pressure. An artificial spinal disc is man-made to offer replacement for a disc that has been damaged and is causing lack of movement and debilitating pain to the patient. Solomon Kamson will be able to counsel you on whether this is an option for your personal case.

Artificial Discs
An artificial disc replaces the inner part of the vertebra called the nucleus. This allows the spine to move and bend appropriately. It provides the spine with the flexibility that is required for daily living. At times, it is extremely necessary to have disc replacement surgery. Dr. Solomon Kamson will be able to hold a consultation and discuss the next step into recovery from the artificial disc replacement.

Two Types of Artificial Discs
Artificial discs are ground breaking in the surgery industry, so much so that there are two different types of replacement surgeries that can be performed. The first is the replacement of the entire disc. The disc tissue is taken and replaced by a new implanted disc. The other type of artificial disc surgery is the replacement of the disc nucleus. In this surgery, only the nucleus is replaced.

Artificial discs are made with different materials. Metal or biopolymer (plastic-like) materials are the two materials that are used when making artificial discs. At times, both materials are used to make a disc. The total replacement of the disc was started in Europe in the 1980s. There are artificial disc replacements made for the discs in the neck as well.

Who Can Use a Replacement Disc
Different patients will have to have different variations of the materials previously mentioned. Dr. Kamson will suggest the most appropriate step forward with the surgery. Those who have a degenerative disease will end up having this surgery performed in most cases. Those discs that have proved to be causing intense pain are normally the ones that will have discs replaced. Those patients include those who need a fusion.

Some patients are unable to receive artificial discs. Certain health conditions will prevent a patient from undergoing the surgery. One condition is spondylolisthesis, which is slipping of vertebrae. Others include osteoporosis, fracture of vertebral bodies, tumors on the spine, infection of the spine, and being obese. A common condition for not performing the surgery is if the patient has an allergy to one or more of the materials that are used in making the artificial discs.

Patients who have endured pain for over six months have the potential to undergo the surgery. Typically in most cases the surgery will reduce the amount of pain the individual endures by a large percentage. For those who have a certain percentage of pain left or who cannot undergo the artificial disc surgery, Dr. Kamson will be able to help them with a pain management plan and assist in them in regaining their quality of life.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Dr. Solomon Kamson and the physicians at the Spine Institute Northwest will be able to diagnose the condition that is causing your neck pain. Once it is diagnosed, you and the doctor will be able to speak about the next step in pain management and recovery.

There are numerous causes of neck pain. Due to the similar types of pain and symptoms, it is hard to self-diagnose. It is important to speak with a doctor to find the correct condition so proper treatment can be administered.

A well-known condition is whiplash. It is due to injury to an individual’s neck after an abrupt acceleration-deceleration force. It is normally caused by vehicle accidents. It was first classified in 1928 as “railway spine” and was similar to the condition that individuals received when involved in train accidents, hence the name. It is damage to your bone structure and soft tissues that surround the bone. It can be mild or also a chronic condition. During the accident, the lower back is forced into a position of hyperextension while the neck is forced into a hyper-flexed position. This causes an ‘S’ shape, which is not a normal position for the spine and causes whiplash.

Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve can immobilize you. It can send flashes of light through your vision when the pain strikes. Nerves are your electrical cords that carry information from your brain to the rest of your body. They are spread throughout your entire body. Motor nerves carry information from your brain to the rest of your body, allowing you brain to command your organs and limbs. This causes them to contract and expand. Sensory nerves send information from your body to your brain. Your brain then processes the information in order to decipher the message. It will tell you if you experience pain, touch, and taste.

Herniated Discs
Discs are located throughout your entire spine. They are pads within your spine that function as cushions. They are located between the vertebral bodies and serve as shock absorbers in your spine. The discs are jelly-like and donut shaped. At times, there are abnormal ruptures of a disc. The frequent place for the herniated disc to take place is in the point between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. The other common place is between the vertebra in the neck.

Neck pain can stop your daily life from progressing. It will cause problems in relationships, self-esteem, weight problems due to inactivity, and more. Dr. Kamson and the Spine Institute Northwest will be able to help you with the pain and, in some cases, cure your condition. It is important to book an appointment as soon as possible to begin the diagnosis. The faster you are diagnosed, the faster you can recover from the pain and from the negative repercussions of your neck pain. During consultation, you are able to discuss any concerns or questions that you may have about treatment and pain management.

Causes of Bulging and Herniated Discs

Some individuals can have a bulging or herniated disc without being aware of their condition. When this is the case, a spine surgeon like Dr. Solomon Kamson can find them when performing tests for other conditions. They will show up on x-rays. Other individuals who suffer from the symptoms of a bulging or herniated disc experience tremendous pain.

The location of the symptoms can differ from person to person. Most herniated discs that occur in the lower back, also known as the lumbar section of the spine. Others will suffer from herniated discs in the neck, which is known as the cervical section of the spine.

Common signs of a herniated or bulging disc are found in the arm or leg. The pain in your arm or leg is from the disc located in your lower back. You will normally feel the intense pain in your buttocks, in your leg below the knee, and in your thigh. If the disc is located in your neck, then you will feel intense pain in your arms or shoulders. It will radiate throughout your arm or leg when you move your spine, and even sneeze. However, when Dr. Solomon Kamson diagnoses your condition, he will be able to help you with pain management.

Tingling and numbness are typically felt as well. Those with discs that are bulging or herniated will experience these sensations in the nerves connected to that disc. Weakness in certain muscles served by the nerves affected by the disc can also be weakened. Dr. Kamson will provide you with exercise lists and other treatments that you can self-administer at home or while at work.

A bulging or herniated disc is a result of degeneration. The degeneration is normally caused by the process of aging. While you age, the discs in your spin lose some of the water content. This will make them less flexible. They then become more susceptible to tearing or rupturing during minor strain or small twisting.

Injury can also cause a bulging or herniated disc. Lifting heavy objects with your back will cause serious injury, and only surgery can fix the issue. Twisting and turning while carrying a heavy load can tear a disc. In some cases, a traumatic event like a fall or blow to the spine can also cause a herniated disc.

There are different factors that cause the risk of a bulging or herniated disc. Age is number one on the list. As you age, the discs in your back begin to degenerate. The ages between 35 and 45 are typically when herniated or bulging discs are diagnosed.

Another factor that raises the risk of these problematic discs is your weight. Extra body mass will cause an excess amount of stress on the discs in your back. This will cause the pressure to hurt the disc and then result in a herniated or bulging disc.

Another risk factor is your occupation. Individuals working in an industry that demands a higher level of physical labor will likely endure back problems. Those with jobs that involve lifting, pulling, bending, pushing, and twisting are at a much higher risk than office workers.

Are you concerned you’re suffering from a herniated disc? Visit the Spine Institute Northwest to learn about minimally invasive treatment options.

What Are Pinched Nerves, and How Are They Treated?

A nerve that is pinched can become extremely painful. “Pinched nerve” is a term used for pain or impairment of functions due to a nerve that is under pressure. It does happen to nerves that control moment and send messages to your brain, also known as sensory nerves.

When a Nerve is Pinched
The first symptoms of a pinched nerve begin with tingling, burning sensations; shooting pains down your buttock, neck or legs; and numbness. It can also affect your shoulders, arms, and every one of your fingers. At times, that pain can be located in a different area of the nerve. If you have a pinched nerve in the lower back, it can cause you to feel pain in your calf muscles. Constant pressure can cause permanent damage. A qualified doctor like Dr. Solomon Kamson can relieve this pressure and decrease the risk of damaged nerves.

Nerve Basics
These are extensions from the brain. They reach through the arms and legs and into the muscles and your skin. A nerve is a cell that is microscopic, and the fibers run several feet throughout your body. A nerve cell that resides in your brain or inside your spine is called a central nerve. The nerves that start in your spine and go into the arms and legs are named peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves are bundles of millions of nerve fibers. They leave the spine and branch out to the target muscles in order to allow you to move following brain signals.

After a Pinched Nerve
Dr. Solomon Kamson can educate you on why you feel the pain from a pinched nerve. Once you have a pinched nerve, the flow inside the “hose” is reduced or blocked. The nutrients will stop flowing. Eventually, the membrane of the nerve will start to lose the ability to transmit the electrical charges it needs to transmit for you to function. In this case, the nerve will die and cannot be revived. After the fibers stop working properly, the skin will feel numb; if the nerve is connected to a muscle, the muscle may no longer be able to be contracted.

The Next Step
Dr. Kamson will diagnose you, and then the healing will begin. The Spine Institute Northwest will provide you with treatment options. Although there are conservative treatments for this condition, they will not treat the nerve itself. A pinched nerve is typically a symptom of an underlying disc condition, which the doctor will be able to correct. He will run a series of tests to diagnose the true issue and start the healing process.

Once you are diagnosed, you may need to stay away from certain activities that cause aggravation to the disc or the nerve. Dr. Kamson will provide you with a list of activities that you need to stay away from as well as activities that you need to engage in for a smoother recovery if surgery is your choice of treatment. Typically, you can have a surgery performed to correct this issue instead of going through intense pain and pain management programs.

Q&A: Causes of Neck Pain?

Question: Dr. Kamson, I suffer from chronic neck pain that sometimes radiates down my arm and seems to be getting worse over the years. It doesn’t occur every day but I will usually feel it after exercising or other types of physical activities. What could be causing this pain and what kind of treatments are available?

Answer: There are quite a few different conditions that can cause chronic pain that people experience in the neck. Some people will also experience pain radiating down the arm which can sometimes extend to the hands and fingers. This is typically caused from a herniated disc or possibly foraminal stenosis, which pinches a nerve located in the back. Along with the pain you may also experience tingling or a numbness in the arm as well as the hand. These symptoms can develop over a period of time, but can also start suddenly.

For some people neck pain can slowly develop over the years and will typically cause pain throughout certain activities and after them. In many cases this is caused by a cervical foraminal stenosis, and the pain is usually caused from an issue at the nerve root. This can occur because of age or wearing of the facet joints in the neck or the space between the discs. This type of issue can typically be diagnosed by an MRI or CT scan, which can be reviewed for free by surgeons at our facilities.

Others may suffer from a chronic pain that falls more into the lower level category. This is when the pain can occasionally flare up after certain activities, or certain positions for an extended period of time. This cans also cause pain to be felt in the arm which can indicate a symptomatic cervical disc degeneration. Another common issue that people experience is the majority of their pain being felt first thing in the morning and towards the end of the day. Typically they don’t experience pain as long as they are moving around, but cooler or rainy days will often cause the symptoms to worsen. These are the same symptoms of those who suffer from arthritis, and is what can affect the facet joints. As you age the cartilage in these joints wears and produces pain as friction begins to develop against surfaces that are supposed to be smooth.

With chronic neck pain there are some exercises that can help relieve the pain. This consists of strengthening exercises, stretches, aerobics, and other exercises. Proper stretching can help extend your range of motion and prevent stiffness, which is what leads to pain. Strengthening the muscles in the neck can also help lower the amount of pain you experience and help with symptoms that can flare up. Keep in mind that although exercising can help relieve or temporarily eliminate the pain, there is a problem causing the symptoms you experience and can only worsen over time. The Spine Institute Northwest offers several minimally invasive procedures to effectively eliminate the issues that are causing the pain. Most procedures can take less than two hours and usually within an hour of the surgery you are able to go home and enjoy a pain free life.

Learn more about Dr. Solomon Kamson and the Spine Institute Northwest by visiting www.spineinstitutenorthwest.com