Other Conditions

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition wherein one vertebra slips or dislocates, moving out of place relative to the adjacent vertebrae, causing back pain and neurologic problems. The dislocation of a vertebra narrows the space in the spinal canal, leading to back pain. And it may also apply pressure on the surrounding nerves, leading to neurologic problems. Spondylolisthesis can happen on any part of the spinal column, but it’s most common in the lumbar region, i.e., the lower back spine.

The following are the common symptoms of spondylolisthesis:

  • Severe pain while standing, bending backward, or walking.
  • Burning back pain sensations.
  • The pain worsens after exercise.
  • Sciatica pain shooting down the legs and buttocks.
  • The pain is accompanied by weakness or numbness.
  • Cramping pains in the buttocks and thighs.

Dr. McHugh identifies the root of the problem to curate the ideal treatment plan. Mild spondylolisthesis cases can be treated with bed rest, medications, physical therapy, and other non-invasive procedures. However, if your situation doesn’t improve with non-surgical treatments or you suffer from severe spondylolisthesis, Dr. McHugh may recommend a spinal fusion surgery to stabilize the spine. Dr. McHugh specializes in cutting-edge and minimally-invasive procedures that ensure smooth and effective recovery.

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Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition wherein the gradual degeneration of the spinal structures, including the intervertebral discs, ligaments, and joints, narrows the spinal canal, reducing the space available for the spinal nerve roots. Over time, the excessive load of the intervertebral discs leads to the formation of osteophytes (bone spurs) in the spinal canals. The discs may also bulge and herniate, further contributing to stenosis. Your joints may also enlarge due to arthritic changes, and the ligaments gradually stiffen and thicken, further narrowing the spinal canal. These structural changes collectively lead to spinal stenosis, applying pressure on the nerve roots and spinal column.

Spinal stenosis can occur on the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), or lumbar (lower back) spine. The symptoms depend on the location of the spinal stenosis. People with cervical or thoracic stenosis suffer from the compression of the spinal cord (myelopathy) or damage to the nerve roots (radiculopathy). Regardless of the source of spinal stenosis, it leads to chronic pain that gradually progresses from mild to severe. Spinal stenosis can also affect your motor functions, making it difficult to move your hands, sit down, walk, etc. Dr. McHugh aims to halt its progress at the earliest stage possible, so he runs a series of advanced diagnostic tests to identify and subsequently treat the root cause of spinal stenosis.

Spondylosis

Spondylosis is similar to “arthritis,” but it specifically refers to a degenerative disease of the spine. Arthritis usually affects the joints within the spine, but spondylosis also affects all the other components, including the ligaments and intervertebral discs. The discs between your vertebrae are made of gelatinous substances that cushion the vertebrae, facilitating smooth movements.

Over time, the discs lose water content and start hardening, thus minimizing the protective barrier between the vertebrae. As bone rubs against bone, your vertebrae suffer significant bone loss, leading to the formation of osteophytes, i.e., bony spurs that cause spinal nerve compression. Besides the formation of bone spurs, spondylosis also thickens the spinal ligaments, leading to further nerve compression.

Spondylosis generally affects the cervical and lumbar spinal regions, but they can affect all other parts of the spine as well. People with spondylosis usually experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe neck and pain back.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Inability to move comfortably.
  • Headaches.
  • Numbness and tingling sensations on the arms and legs.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Inability to stand or walk correctly.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control in rare cases.

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Lumbar Facet Cyst

The facet joints and the intervertebral discs are the primary spinal components responsible for mobility and flexibility. The facet joints, visible at the posterior section of the spine, facilitate bending, twisting, and extending motions, and they restrict whiplash and other excessive movements. Like all other joints in the human body, the facet joints are also surrounded by connective tissues that produce synovial fluids for lubrication. The lubrication from the connective tissues and the cartilages ensure smooth operation and mobility.

Over time, factors like genetics, excessive use, and trauma to the joint lead to arthritis of the facet joints. A lumbar facet cyst is a condition that leads to nerve compression, and it happens due to facet joint arthritis. As your facet joints degenerate, the connective tissues produce excess synovial fluids to protect the joints. In some cases, the excess synovial fluid drains into the joint capsule, leading to a sac-like cystic formation, otherwise known as a facet cyst. You can get facet cysts in any part of the spinal column, but they usually occur in the lumbar (lower back) region.

Facet cysts often go undiagnosed for long periods because they don’t lead to immediate symptoms. Over time, the gradual buildup of fluids in the cysts may lead to spinal stenosis, which, in turn, leads to leg pain, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling sensations, and other symptoms. Dr. McHugh primarily treats lumbar facet cysts with non-invasive medications and physical therapy, but minimally invasive surgical intervention may be necessary in severe cases.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Adult degenerative scoliosis refers to abnormal spinal curvature in patients over the age of 18. In some cases, scoliosis may be diagnosed in adulthood after a childhood spinal curvature progresses significantly. However, an adult degenerative scoliosis refers to spinal curvature that originates in one’s adulthood without a history of childhood scoliosis, usually caused by osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, arthritis, or other underlying degenerative problems.

Adult degenerative scoliosis is a progressive condition that causes immense back pain, gradually worsening with time. It also leads to severe and inflexible curvature, necessitating immediate treatment. Lower back pain is the primary symptom of adult degenerative scoliosis, but it can also lead to several other symptoms due to the abnormal curvature. The following are some of the symptoms associated with adult degenerative scoliosis:

  • The patient appears to be imbalanced on one side.
  • The rib appears prominently on one side.
  • One leg seems to be shorter than the other.
  • The posture changes significantly.
  • Sitting or standing causes severe discomfort.
  • Inability to walk or balance correctly.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Muscle atrophy.
  • Severe cases may also lead to cardiopulmonary problems.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

The human spinal column has certain natural curves that give our shoulders a rounded appearance and our lower backs a gentle arch. However, some individuals have abnormal side-to-side curvatures in their spine, i.e., the spine may form an “S” or “C” shape rather than a straight line. This abnormal curvature of the spine is called scoliosis, and it can’t simply be fixed by standing up straight.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis refers to the type of scoliosis occurring in adolescents without an identifiable underlying cause. Over 80% of all scoliosis cases are idiopathic, i.e., without an underlying cause. Scoliosis can also happen in adulthood due to underlying diseases, but idiopathic scoliosis is mostly found in adolescents and young children. AIS is found to some extent in 3-5% of all adolescents, with over 70% of the patients being girls.

Patients must seek diagnosis and treatment for AIS at the earliest stage possible. AIS is often progressive, leading to severe deformities and spinal problems if left untreated. The following are some of the symptoms of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis:

  • Uneven legs, hips, and shoulders.
  • One of the legs may appear shorter than the other.
  • One of the shoulders may appear higher than the other.
  • The protrusion or prominence of a shoulder blade or rib cage.
  • Exhaustion in the lower back.
  • Constant backaches.
  • Abnormal walking.
  • Ill-fitting clothes.

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