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Spinal Care Services

417.347.7200

Back to Neurology

Now Offering Spinal Care Services!

Just for you – a specialized non-surgical spine treatment service is available for all patients in our Joplin office!  Why wait weeks to see a specialist?  This first and only comprehensive service of its kind offers patients:

Pain management options

  • Physical therapy
  • X-ray/CT/MRI imaging
  • Surgical assessment and referral for fast-tracking
  • Counseling
  • Rapid access appointments

The back and spine are designed to provide a great deal of strength, protecting the highly sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots, yet flexible, providing for mobility in all directions.

There are many different parts of the spine that can produce back pain, such as irritation to the large nerve roots that run down the legs and arms, irritation to small nerves inside the spine, strains to the large back muscles, as well as any injury to the disc, bones, joints or ligaments in the spine.

Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic back pain is typically describe as lasting for more than three months.

Back pain can take on a wide variety of characteristics:

  • The pain may be constant, intermittent, or only occur with certain positions or activities
  • The pain may remain in one spot or refer or radiate to other areas
  • It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation
  • The problem may be in the neck or low back, but may radiate into the leg or foot (sciatica), arm or hand

 

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

  • Exercise – regular exercise can help with stiffness and improve flexibility, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight, meaning less stress on your spine. When exercising with back pain, it’s important to begin with gentle exercises and gradually increase the intensity as your pain improves.
  • Physical therapy – a physical therapist can work with you to relieve your back pain and teach you exercises that can improve flexibility. Stretching and strengthening exercises along with gentle aerobic activity can relieve pain and stiffness, lower stress levels and help to regain full range of motion. You will also learn techniques for proper lifting and better posture that can also help with back pain.
  • Heat and cold packs – alternating heat and cold packs to decrease pain and inflammation and to relieve muscle tension is a common method of non-surgical spinal care.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications – occasional use of acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage back pain and inflammation.
  • Electrotherapy – this type of non-surgical spinal care uses low-voltage electric stimulation to relieve back pain.
  • Massage therapy – manual manipulation of the muscles using massage therapy techniques may provide pain relief and help loosen up stiff muscles.
  • Injections – injecting corticosteroid medication into the affected area of the spine can provide temporary pain relief for moderate back pain.

 

The Benefits of Non-Surgical Treatment

The benefits of non-surgical treatments for back pain begins with the ability to manage your pain, enabling you to move toward living a full and active life. Other benefits of non-surgical treatments for back pain include:

  • The ability to work while treating your back pain
  • Improved flexibility and range of motion (ROM)
  • Learning how to prevent back injuries in the future

 

Conditions/Symptoms Treated

    Bulging discs are quite common, especially as we age. While a bulging disc doesn’t always cause symptoms, the symptoms can be painful when they occur.

    Our vertebrae are separated by discs that have a tough outer shell and a soft, almost gel-like center. Strain on our discs from poor posture and every-day wear-and-tear can cause the outer portion of the discs to weaken and lose their shape. This, in turn, can cause the disc to bulge into the spinal canal. Bulging disc symptoms are the result of the disc pressing on nerves and can include pain, tingling and weakness that extend to the areas connected to those nerves, like the arms and legs. Minimally invasive bulging disc treatment options can provide relief for those who fail to get relief from conservative treatments.

    Bulging Disc Causes and Risk Factors

    There are things that can cause the degeneration of our discs to happen more quickly, such as:

    • Poor posture – places extra stress on the spine and can cause discs to wear faster. This can be poor posture when lifting heavy items or sitting at a computer for extended periods. Learning and practicing proper posture is an important part of bulging disc prevention.
    • Certain jobs and activities – some occupations and activities involve repetitive lifting, bending and twisting that can wear down our spinal discs prematurely.
    • Injury – spinal injury that results from an accident or sport can cause a bulging disc or worse.
    • Being overweight – extra body weight adds extra stress on the spine and the muscles that support it.
    • Smoking – smoking has been found to speed up the degenerative process, which can increase the risk of a bulging disc and other spinal problems.
    • Inactivity – A 2015 study linked inactivity to narrower intervertebral discs.

    Degenerative disc disease refers to changes in the spine that most often result from wear-and-tear. Though everyone experiences some disc degeneration by age 40, for some the damage can be more severe and may result in pain and numbness. Degenerative disc disease can affect any part of your spine.

    Between each of the bones (vertebrae) in your spine are discs. Each disc contains a gel-like center that helps absorb the impact of our movements and allows our backs to move freely. As we age, the discs begin to lose water and shrink, making it harder for them to absorb the shock of our movements. This shrinkage can also change the position of the vertebrae. All of these can lead to pain, which is the most common symptom of degenerative disc disease. As damage to the discs gets worse, the gel-like center can escape and irritate or pinch a spinal nerve, resulting in other symptoms. In the later stages of degenerative disc disease, bone spurs form due to the lack of space in the spinal canal (stenosis) allowing contact with nerve roots and causing pain.

    Degenerative Disc Disease Causes and Risk Factors

    As mentioned, aging is the most common cause of degenerative disc disease because of the every-day-wear-and-tear on our discs. Along with aging, there are other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease.

    • Certain occupations – jobs that involve repetitive strain on the spine, such as bending, pulling, twisting or lifting can cause degenerative disc disease. Sitting hunched over a computer all day also increases your risk due to increased pressure on the discs.
    • Contact sports – along with stress put on the spine from repetitive movement, contact sports heighten your risk of injury to the spine.
    • Excess body weight – obesity causes stress on the spine and muscles that support it. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of prevention.
    • Sedentary lifestyle – lack of physical activity can cause muscles in the back and abdomen to weaken, making it harder for them to support the spine.
    • Smoking – smoking has been found to decrease the amount of water in the discs, speeding up the degenerative process.
    • Genetics – those with a family history of degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis are more likely to develop the condition.

    Sciatica is a symptom of a problem affecting the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower portion of your spinal cord and runs through the hips, buttocks and down each leg. This important nerve is responsible for your ability to feel and move your legs and feet. Sciatica normally affects only one side of the body. Along with pain, a problem with the sciatic nerve can also cause other symptoms, such as leg and feet weakness and numbness.

    Sciatica pain can range from moderate to severe and make it difficult to sit down, walk and perform daily activities. It can come on suddenly or gradually worsen over time depending on what’s causing it.

    Sciatica Causes and Risk Factors

    Anything that injures the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica. The most common causes include:

    • Herniated discs – the bones in the spine (vertebrae) are separated by cartilage that is filled with a thick jelly-like material that acts as a cushion between the bones. When the outer portion of the disc wears down or ruptures, the material inside can protrude and place pressure on, or “pinch,” the sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness.
    • Stenosis – spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal, which is the space that surrounds your spinal cord. Pressure placed on the spinal cord and the sciatic nerve roots cause sciatica.
    • Spondylolisthesis – this is associated with degenerative disc disorder. With spondylolisthesis, one vertebra extends over another, which can trap the sciatic nerve.
    • In some cases, a tumor pressing on the sciatic nerve can be the cause of sciatica.

    There are certain factors and behaviors that can increase the risk of developing sciatica,
    including:

    • Aging – risk of degenerative disc disorders – the most common causes of sciatica – increases as we age because of wear-and-tear.
    • Sitting for long periods – those who sit for prolonged periods have a higher risk of developing sciatica.
    • Obesity – excess body weight puts more stress on the spine, resulting in changes to the spine that can cause sciatica.
    • Diabetes – having diabetes may increase the risk of nerve damage.
    • Certain occupations – jobs that involve heavy lifting or sitting for prolonged periods such as at a desk or in a vehicle due to increased stress on the spine.

    Call today for an appointment – no referral necessary. 

    Tuesdays and Thursdays

    Freeman NeuroSpine

    Located in the Thousand Oaks building
    1905 W. 32nd Street, Suite 403
    Joplin, MO
    417.347.7200

    Spine Care Treatment Team