Spine General (involves multiple spine areas)

My mother has to have surgery for her back as it's really deformed (hunched). What types of complications are possible for this type of back surgery?

All surgeries, even the most minor, carry a risk of complications. Spinal surgery has these risks and a few others because of the location and the complexity of the surgeries.

My mother has very bad arthritis in her spine. She now has a very hunched back and can't look up straight. She's embarrassed to go out. Is there anything she can do?

Many adults undergo surgery to correct spinal deformities like your mothers. The surgeries are called osteotomies and involve removing bone from the spine and, if needed, lengthening it in some areas.

When a surgeon evaluates the type of surgery that may be needed, he or she does take into account the patient's horizontal gaze, which is how the person is able to look straight ahead, with the gaze parallel to the floor.

Spinal Osteotomies Providing Good Functional Outcomes

Adults who need spinal deformities corrected can present a problem for surgeons because of the inflexibility of most of the deformities. There are many deformities that need this type of correction, ranging scoliosis (curvature of the spine, side to side) and different types of arthritis in the spine. that can result in hyperkyphosis (humped back or rounded back).

Updates From the Orthopedic Spine World

Every year, physicians involved in treating spine patients come together at the Spine Society's Annual Meeting. Experts in the field bring information and updates on studies done in a wide variety of topics. In this report, six areas of interest were reviewed, summarized, and presented. A brief recap of these six areas is offered below:

1) Assessing Psychologic Factors in Spine Patients

I'm sending you this question on behalf of my mom who is laid up in bed with a burst fracture of her spine. She can't sit up and use her laptop, so I'm typing her question. How long does it take to heal from this type of injury?

Burst fractures occur as a result of a compressive load down through the spine. The vertebra shatters into tiny pieces. Bone fragments can get lodged into nearby tissues, including the spinal canal and the spinal cord inside the canal.

Why are there so many names for disc injuries in the back? I've heard the terms herniated disc, slipped disc, and bulging disc - but they all mean the same thing, right?

Actually, you've missed a few terms! A herniated disc can be called a slipped disc, bulging disc, ruptured disc, or even a pinched nerve, all depending on the person. They all mean the same thing, but why there are so many names for it isn't known.

I have to have back surgery, but I'm afraid about how long it will take to recover from it. Should I have it?

Only you and your doctor can decide if you should have back surgery, but there are some things you can discuss to help you make your decision.

With so many different types of approaches to spinal surgery, how do doctors know which one is best for which patients?

In some surgeries, there isn't much of a choice as to how to do them. Some are straight forward. However, in several types, there are different ways to approach the problem, different tools to use, different techniques to use, as well as the actual preparation up to the time of surgery and the recovery period.

I just learned of butterfly vertebrae and I was wondering how this happens.

Butterfly vertebrae are vertebrae (bone that make up your spine) that have a cleft, an indentation or opening, through the middle. If you look at it with an x-ray, the shape reminds you of a butterfly. A human spine is formed within the first few weeks of gestation. So, as the spine is forming, somewhere between weeks three and six of gestation, something goes wrong in the spine and the result is butterfly vertebrae.

If an abnormality in your body doesn't cause any problems, why spend time diagnosing it? Or even researching it? My brother had to have a back x-ray for a problem and his doctor told him that he had butterfly vertebrae but that's not causing the pain. So?

Butterfly vertebrae are vertebrae (bone that make up your spine) that have a cleft, an indentation or opening, through the middle. If you look at it with an x-ray, the shape reminds you of a butterfly. Usually, this doesn't cause any problems and goes undetected unless there is a reason to x-ray that part of the back. Sometimes, however, there may be pain, but not from the abnormality itself.

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