Bone and Joint Houston
Bone and joint conditions affect hundreds of millions of Americans. Diseases that affect bone and joint health feel like a minor discomfort or be completely debilitating. Pain resulting from a bone or joint condition can limit your ability to complete daily tasks, such as writing, driving or working around the house. For some, pain can mean missed work or skipping out on important time spent with family and friends.
If you suffer from a bone or joint condition, such as arthritis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis or degenerative disc disease, you are not alone. There are therapies and treatments that may help reduce or eliminate your pain and get you back to living life the way you want to — without limitations.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common bone and joint conditions and available treatments for each.
The term “arthritis” literally means “inflammation of a joint,” and the condition affect any joint in the body (where the ends of two or more bones meet). There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, but all generally fall under one of two primary categories.
The first, osteoarthritis, is caused by wear and tear on the articular cartilage through the natural aging process, constant use or through trauma (post-traumatic arthritis). The second type is caused by an immune response in the body that mistakenly attacks the joints with inflammation, as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis depends on the cause of the disease. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can be managed with medications. Severe osteoarthritis that cannot be managed with pain medication, splints or other normally-indicated treatments may be treated with a surgical procedure called arthrodesis. During this procedure, the bones that form the joint are fused together, a procedure also known as joint fusion.
Degenerative Disc Disease
When the discs between the vertebrae begin to break down (degenerative disc disease), the damaged disc can cause inflammation and instability in the back, causing back pain, muscle spasms and sciatica (lower back pain that travels to the buttock, leg and foot).
Degenerative disc disease may be treated surgically with the lumbar spinal fusion technique, or your doctor may recommend extreme lateral interbody fusion, a surgical procedure in which the front part of the lumbar spine is fused from the side. Disc material is removed and a fusion graft is placed into the disc space. The graft is usually bone or a cage combined with bone.
Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side, shaped like an “S” or “C” and may also be rotated. For adults, it can be very painful. It is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. On an X-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with a scoliosis may look more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line.
Symptoms of scoliosis include pain (mostly in adults), uneven musculature on one side of the spine, a rib hump and/or prominent shoulder blade caused by rotation of the ribcage in thoracic scoliosis, uneven hips, rib cage and shoulder levels and/or asymmetric size or location of breasts in females. Spinal lumbar fusion may be recommended to help straighten the spine and alleviate back pain associated with scoliosis.
Characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal, spinal stenosis is a condition that is typically the result of spinal degeneration with aging, though it can sometimes be caused by spinal disc herniation, thickening of the ligaments in the back, osteoporosis or a tumor. When the spinal canal narrows, it pinches the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in low back pain as well as pain or abnormal sensations in the extremities. Cramping, weakness or numbness may also occur. In some patients, spinal stenosis may also cause loss of bladder and bowel control.
Depending on the severity of the condition, pain medications and medical treatments are available to address pain and loss of quality of life due to spinal stenosis. There are two common surgical procedures for the treatment of spinal stenosis: anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and lumbar spinal fusion.
During anterior cervical discectomy, problem discs may be removed and replaced with a bone graft to fill in the space left after the disc is removed. The graft also stimulates bone healing and helps the vertebrae fuse together into a solid bone. Lumbar spinal fusion is a technique used to combine two or more vertebrae. The problematic disc is removed and replaced with supplementary bone.
If you are suffering from pain related to a bone or joint condition, contact Houston’s spine doctor, Dr. Kushwaha, today.