Back & Spine
A healthy spine consists of strong bones and muscles, flexible tendons and ligaments and sensitive nerves to support the human body. The spine is made up of five distinct regions: Cervical Spine (Neck), Thoracic Spine (Upper Back), Lumbar Spine (Lower Back), Sacral and Coccyx.
When there is a problem with one or many of these structures, the physicians of Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center are board certified and fellowship trained to diagnose and treat all conditions of the spine.
Using state-of-the-art surgical techniques and specialized treatments, the spine specialists are here for you when you need them the most, providing quality health care you can trust.
We treat all injuries and conditions of the spine
Types of Herniated Discs
A Herniated Disc is when the harder outside fibers of the disc is either damaged or deteriorates over time and the softer inner gel ruptures outside of its normal space. The softer material, when outside of the disc, puts more pressure on your spine and nerves which can create tremendous pain. There are three types of herniated discs.
Lumbar Herniated Disc
A Lumbar Herniated Disc affects the lower back and is the most common herniated disc. Luckily, they are also the least serious, but still cause lower back pain. The damaged or deteriorated disc is located right under the spinal nerve root and puts a great amount of pressure on the nerve. Aside from lower back pain, a Lumbar Herniated Disc also causes leg and sciatica pain and/or tingling. This is most common to begin for the 40-60 year age group.
Cervical Herniated Disc
A Cervical Herniated Disc is when one of the discs in your neck herniates. The disc then presses on the adjacent nerve root and causes severe neck pain. A lot of time, this gets diagnosed as a pinched nerve. The pain radiates down the shoulder and arm. This is most common to begin for the 30-50 year age group. Symptoms also happen fairly spontaneously.
Thoracic Herniated Disc
A Thoracic Herniated Disc can be very serious. This is because the most common cause of this form of herniated disc is generative disc disease. This is when the outer fibers weaken over time due to age. This can lead to other serious medical conditions stemming from a weakened spine. This also tends to have the most impact on mobility and organ function. This is most common to begin at an older age, usually around 50-60.
What to do when you have a pinched nerve in your back or neck
A pinched nerve can occur in multiple places in your body, but is very common in the neck and back. Sometimes a pinched nerve will go away on its own, but if the symptoms do not go away within a few weeks, treatment may be necessary.
What is a Pinched Nerve?
A “pinched nerve” is a term used to describe damage or injury to a nerve. This can be caused by compression, constriction, or stretching of the nerve, and is very common in the neck and lower back. If a disc in the spine weakens or tears, called a herniated disc, it can cause compression on a spinal nerve.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
You may experience warning signs that you have a pinched nerve. If you have these symptoms, schedule an appointment to diagnose and treat the nerve compression accordingly.
Osteoporosis Screening & Treatment
Osteoporosis is a condition that reduces bone strength and puts women at greater risk of breaking or fracturing a bone.
In fact, more than one in four women over the age of 65 have the disease. Symptoms are virtually non-existent and a person may not be affected by it until they break a bone.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
The following factors make a person more likely to develop the Osteoporosis:
- Gender. Women are far more likely to be affected by Osteoporosis than men. In general, women’s bones are smaller and are more vulnerable to degeneration due to hormonal changes that occur after menopause.
- Age. Bones naturally become thinner as we age. When women reach menopause, they may rapidly lose bone in the first four to eight years of menopause. For example, if a women begins menopause at 50, the most dramatic loss of bone mass may occur between 51 and 58.
- Race. Due to differences in genetic make-up, Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to be affected by Osteoporosis than African-American and Hispanic women.
- Family History. Women whose families have a history of developing Osteoporosis are more likely to develop it themselves.
DEXA Screening for Osteoporosis
Bone density is measured using a process called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or what’s commonly known as a DEXA scan. This procedure measures the density of bones in areas of the body that are prone to breaks and fractures, such as the spine, hips and forearms.
DEXA scans do not require any preparation. The patient will lie on an examination table while an x-ray scans different areas of the body. The process is painless and only takes about ten minutes to complete.
Understanding DEXA Results
In the majority of cases, the patient’s bone density will be compared to that of an average healthy young adult. The results of this comparison is called a T-score. This will help the doctor determine if the bones are normal (T-score between +1 and -1) , have lower than average mass (T-score between -1.1 and -2.4,) or Osteoporosis (T-score of -2.5 or less.)
How Often Should Scans be Performed?
Because of the exposure to radiation, DEXA scans should be completed a maximum of once every two years. Even with high-risk patients receiving treatment, doctors will monitor bone health in other ways.
Osteoporosis Treatment Options in Las Vegas
The main goal of treatment will be to prevent fractures and breaks. In addition to recommending a proper diet rich in calcium, a doctor may prescribe medication. The following is not a list of all medication options, but simply the most commonly used:
- Bisphosphonates. This type of medication slows cell activity that is responsible for bone loss. Bisphosphonates are intended to maintain or even increase bone density.
- Parathyroid Hormone. This option is for postmenopausal women who are at high risk for fracture.
- Estrogen Agonists/Antagonists. Typically used to treat postmenopausal women, these medications are not estrogen, but they have estrogen-like effects on the body.
- Calcitonin. Meant for women who are at least five years into menopause, calcitonin helps to regulate calcium and bone metabolism.
Osteoporosis is a condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A broken bone can result in hospitalization and even surgery.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Most commonly caused by changes in the spine due to osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of space within your spine that places pressure on the nerves. The narrowing can happen at various places within your spine, but will often cause the same symptoms due to the compression of the nerves.
While spinal stenosis may be something one is born with or caused by osteoarthritis, other causes can include:
- Herniated Disks
- Tough or Thickened Ligaments
- Injuries to your Spine
- Overgrowth of Bone
Types of Spinal Stenosis
Because the condition can occur at different locations within the spine, it is classified based on the area affected. Cervical stenosis is when the narrowing occurs in the neck area of your spine, while lumbar stenosis is when the narrowing occurs in the lower part of your back. Lumbar stenosis is cited as the most common form.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Based on the location of stenosis, the symptoms may either be non-existent, or range in severity. The most common symptoms will include:
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling in your limbs (hand, arm foot, or leg)
- Issues with balance and walking
- Neck or back pain
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed, it’s important to get checked by DOCTOR. While the issue may not be spinal stenosis, there may be an underlying cause that requires treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
After discussing your symptoms with your doctor, a physical examination will be conducted to determine the severity and root of the issue. In addition, imaging tests may be ordered including X-rays, MRIs, or CTs. These will allow the doctor to further see the exact location of stenosis in order to classify and design a treatment plan.
The treatment plan designed for you will depend strongly on the severity of pain and the location of the stenosis. If the symptoms are mild, the doctor may discuss home relief such as mild exercises. If these do not work, but the symptoms are still not severe, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers or antidepressants to ease the pain.
Further treatment often starts with physical therapy and progresses from there. Treatment plans for severe symptoms may include:
- Steroid Injections
- Massage Therapy and Acupuncture
- Chiropractic Treatment
- Decompression Procedures
- Surgeries such as:
- Minimally Invasive Options
Make sure to consult with Dr. Vater for treatment options.
Understanding the Symptoms of Sciatica
Do you ever wonder what the pain radiating down your spine to your buttocks might be? It’s possible that it’s sciatica.
Sciatica can cause some people severe pain and can even be debilitating. For others, sciatica might be irritating and infrequent. However, it does have the potential to get worse as time goes on.
What Causes Sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is a lumbar disc herniation directly pressing on the nerve but any irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve can create sciatica symptoms. Other causes of sciatica can include:
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
How Can I Tell If I Have Sciatica?
While sciatica affects everyone differently, the following are the most common symptoms:
- Pain that radiates from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg. The pain is usually on one side of the body.
- Though a person does experience back pain, the leg pain is much more server.
- Pain that worsens when standing or sitting, but improves when lying down or resting.
- “Pins and Needles” sensation in the leg.
- Numbness and tingling in the leg.
Sciatica can be diagnosed by a physical exam and an imaging test. During a physical exam, a doctor might check muscle strength and reflexes. If your sciatica is being caused by a herniated disc or bone spur, a doctor might suggest an imaging test, such as an X-Ray, MRI, CT Scan, or an EMG.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition that causes curves in your spine. While some curves in the spine are normal, scoliosis causes large curves from side to side. These severe curves can cause pain and breathing issues.
What are the symptoms of Scoliosis?
Scoliosis typically causes the following symptoms when the curve becomes moderate to severe:
- One shoulder might be higher than the other.
- The head may not be centered over the body.
- The waistline is flat on one side.
- The ribs are higher on one side than the other.
- Pressure on the spinal discs, nerves, muscles, ligaments, or facet joints.
Treating Scoliosis in our Las Vegas Office
Treatment for scoliosis is based on age, the degree of the curve, and type of scoliosis the person has. The most common scoliosis treatments include:
- Observation: If the curve isn’t severe (less than 25 degrees), the doctor will recommend observation. Checkups will take place every four to six months to make sure the curve is not getting worse.
- Bracing: Doctors might suggest bracing when the curve is more than 25 degrees, the curve is getting worse during the observation period and the person has more than two years of growing left.
- Surgery: Doctors use surgery to correct curves that are more than 45 degrees. The surgery involves fusing together two or more bones in the spine. If necessary, the surgeon will also add implants.