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Spine Surgery FAQs

To assess whether you need to see a member of the spinal care and surgery team of White Plains Hospital, consider asking yourself the following questions:

Do you have back pain that...

  • Causes numbness, weakness, or tingling? Back pain accompanied by a pins-and-needles feeling typically requires evaluation from a medical professional. Numbness, weakness and tingling indicate that the pain is related to nerve irritation or damage, including conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis. If these conditions are left untreated, this could lead to permanent nerve damage and disability. Early diagnosis and treatment can ensure you will regain function and avoid permanent issues.
  • Causes bowel or bladder problems, or progressive weakness in your legs? Sudden difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, or gradual weakness in your legs are both signs that you should seek immediate medical care. These could be signs that you have cauda equina syndrome, caused by compression of nerves in the lower spine. While this condition is rare, individuals suffering from these symptoms should seek prompt medical care, as cauda equina syndrome generally requires emergency back surgery.
  • Occurs only at night? Pain that only occurs at night and makes it difficult to sleep is a red flag that should not be ignored. This type of pain could be caused by a wide range of issues, such as disc degeneration, a sprained muscle, or a tumor or growth along the spine. If you have pain that makes it difficult to sleep through the night, you should have your pain evaluated by a specialist that can help you find relief, making it easier to sleep and avoiding further damage.
  • Is accompanied by a fever? While a high fever can sometimes cause general aches and pains, a fever accompanied by sudden back or neck pain could be a sign of a serious infection, such as meningitis. If you have a fever over 101℉ that does not respond to medication along with pain in the back or neck, you should be evaluated by a physician immediately to rule out serious infection.
  • Lasts longer than 6 weeks? Back pain normally goes away with rest and over-the-counter medications. However, if your pain lasts for longer than six weeks, progressively gets worse, or interferes with your day-to-day life, you may have chronic pain that should be evaluated.

Why Should I choose White Plains Hospital for Spinal Care?

Back pain can negatively impact your quality of life and make everyday tasks nearly impossible. Early diagnosis and treatment of the cause of your back pain is essential, and our spine doctors have access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology to pinpoint the cause, location and severity of pain. Our inpatient facilities and amenities ensure our patients have a comfortable environment for recovery. While surgery is sometimes needed, our experts within the department of Orthopedic Surgery provide patients with the least invasive treatments necessary. Our spinal doctors at White Plains Hospital offer incomparable routine and emergency care for your back pain to get you back to your life.

What causes spine pain?

Typically, spine pain that requires surgery is the result of a herniated disc. A herniated disc may be caused by a single excessive strain or injury, or age-related degeneration. Some people are more vulnerable to herniated discs. Research has not shown that disc diseases are hereditary, but they can run in families.

In addition, other types of spine pain can be caused by:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Arthritis
  • Skeletal irregularities (such as scoliosis)
  • Osteoporosis

How does spine pain differ in each area of the spine?

Lumbar spine (lower spine) – Sciatica is a common result of a herniated disc of the lumbar spine. When there is pressure on a nerve, a person may experience pain, burning, tingling and numbness. These sensations can radiate from the buttock to the leg and, in some cases, into the foot. In addition, the pain may worsen depending on whether a person is sitting, walking, or standing.

Cervical Spine (neck) – When a person experiences a herniated disc of the cervical spine, symptoms can include either dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. In addition, the pain may radiate down the arm to the hand or fingers. Numbness or tingling may be present in the shoulder or arm.

Thoracic Spine – A thoracic disc herniation can cause pain near the ribs. Specifically, the pain typically originates in the posterior chest and radiates around the rib cage. This type of pain can be triggered from several different factors, including physical exertion or even taking a deep breath. With a thoracic herniated disc, a person may also experience numbness around the chest. This type of herniated disc is rarer than a herniated disc of the lumbar or cervical spine.

Is there anything I can do to prevent lower back pain?

Yes, there are certain precautions a person can take to prevent lower back pain, including:

  • Engaging in abdominal-strengthening exercises
  • Use proper lifting techniques (don’t bend and lift) for heavy objects
  • Maintain good posture when sitting and standing
  • Don’t smoke, as smoking can cause lower back pain and degenerative disc disorders
  • Avoid undue stress, as this can cause muscle tension
  • Maintain a healthy weight, as advised by a medical professional
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