Glossary of Terms

Acupuncture [+/-]


  • A system of Chinese medicine that corrects energy imbalances within the body. Very thin needles are placed strategically into the skin to alleviate pain.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy [+/-]


  • Surgery of the upper spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots, or on the spinal cord. The procedure is performed on the anterior (front) cervical (neck) area, and a portion of the disc (discectomy) is removed.

Biofeedback [+/-]


  • A treatment option that involves learning relaxation techniques, stress management, and pain-coping skills.

Bone Spurs (Osteophytes) [+/-]


  • Bony overgrowths often found around arthritic joints. These bone growths may cause nerve impingement. Symptoms include pain; numbness; burning; pins and needles in the extremities below the affected nerve; and muscle spasm, cramping, weakness, or loss of muscular control of a body part.

Compression Fractures [+/-]


  • Fractures that result from external trauma (falling) or weakness of the vertebrae (osteoporosis), causing one or more vertebrae to crush or wedge. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the symptoms range from back pain to radiating pain to loss of strength or sensation in the legs. Minimally invasive techniques such as kyphoplasty or vertebraplasty can be used to reduce symptoms and enhance recovery from compression fractures.

Degenerative Disc Disease [+/-]


  • Discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine. Over time, these discs can wear down, thereby decreasing space where the nerves exit the vertebrae. Pain may or may not be associated with the initial onset of the disease. When pain is associated, it can take the form of back or leg pain, weakness, or both caused by compression of the nerve roots.

Herniated Discs [+/-]


  • Discs are located between the vertebrae of the spine and have jelly-like centers. A herniated disc occurs when the center bulges or ruptures and pushes the outer edge of the disc into the spinal canal, putting pressure on the nerves. Symptoms may include dull or sharp pain, muscle spasm or cramping, sciatica, and leg weakness or loss of leg function. Sneezing, coughing, or bending usually intensifies the pain. According to recent statistics, approximately one in every 50 people experiences a herniated disc.

InFUSETM Bone Graft/LT CageTM [+/-]


  • Surgery that involves fusing or "welding" of the affected bones, or vertabrae, together through the use of a revolutionary biological protein, known as BMP, that stimulates bone growth. This technique eliminates the bone-harvesting procedure typically performed for spinal fusion surgery.

Injections [+/-]


  • Medications and heat or cold treatment can be given through injection procedures that involve placement of a needle or similar probe into or near a part of the spine. Injections may relieve pain and swelling and are considered an supplementary treatment that facilitates participation in an active exercise program.

Kyphoplasty [+/-]


  • A minimally invasive treatment option that involves placing needles through the skin and injecting bone cement into the fractured or affected vertebrae. The procedure often results in immediate relief of pain caused by compression fractures and some types of spinal tumors.

Medications [+/-]


  • Generally given orally, medications are given to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, control muscle spasm, and correct sleep problems. The goal of medication is to allow participation in an active rehabilitation program that promotes healing and a return to back health.

Osteoarthritis of the Spine [+/-]


  • Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease in which bone mass and density are lost, making bones extremely susceptible to fractures. When osteoporosis affects the spine, the symptoms may include chronic pain, loss of mobility, and an alteration of physical appearance.

Physical Therapy [+/-]


  • The specific needs of the patient are evaluated when developing a physical therapy program. Trained physical therapists guide patients through a customized treatment program that may include body mechanics, stretching, strengthening, conditioning and aquatic exercises.

Pinched Nerves [+/-]


  • Pinched NervesA nerve can be pinched, as it leaves the spine, by a herniated disk or by bone spurs that form from spinal arthritis. This impingement impairs the nerve's ability to transmit the tiny electrical charges that control muscle power, causing symptoms such as loss of sensation in the legs, skin numbness, and loss of muscle contracture. Other symptoms include radiating pain into affected limbs.

Posterior Lumbar Decompression/Laminectomy [+/-]


  • Surgery performed on the lower back to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. The procedure involves removal of one or more overlapping bony arches (laminae).

Posterior Lumbar Discectomy [+/-]


  • Surgery of the lower spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots. The procedure is performed on the posterior (back) of the lumbar (lower back) area, and a portion of the disc is removed (discectomy).

Rheumatoid Arthritis [+/-]


  • A generalized inflammatory condition that typically affects the upper spine. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include headache, neck pain, weakness in the arms and legs, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, and difficulty sleeping.

Scoliosis [+/-]


  • Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves from side to side. Known causes include heredity, degenerative changes of the spine, and osteoporosis. Initial treatment may include an orthopedic brace. If bracing does not control the curve, surgery may be necessary.

Sciatica [+/-]


  • The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. When one of the nerves that branch off of it becomes compressed in the lumbar spine, the result is a traveling pain that begins at the buttock, radiates down to the thigh and knee, and may be felt in the feet. The pain may be dull, sharp, burning or accompanied by intermittent shocks of shooting pain.

Spinal Fusion (Anterior and Posterior) [+/-]


  • A "welding" process by which two or more of the small bones (vertebrae) that make up the spinal column are fused together into a single solid bone.

    During surgery, InFuseTM Bone Graft or bone grafts harvested from the patient are used to fuse the bones.

Spinal Injuries and Trauma [+/-]


  • Motor vehicle accidents, sports- and job-related injuries or other accidents can cause mild-to-severe injury to the spine. The Spine Centers at LifeBridge Health treat all types of spinal trauma, including whiplash, dislocations, disc herniation, and fractures.

Spinal Stenosis [+/-]


  • Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal, which contains and protects the spinal cord and nerve roots, narrows and pinches the spinal cord and nerves, which causes pain and loss of sensation. This narrowing is a result of the degeneration (wearing down) of the vertebral joint and discs. Symptoms include pain while walking or standing. Progressive subtle loss of motor or muscular use of one or both lower extremities may result if the condition is left untreated.

Spine Tumors [+/-]


  • Spinal tumors can start in the boney vertebrae or come from a secondary source in the body (metastases). They may be associated with back pain or weakness. Advanced surgical techniques are available for removal of these lesions.

Spondylolisthesis [+/-]


  • Occurs when one vertebra slips forward on the adjacent vertebrae due to instability caused by arthritic wear and tear, a developmental defect, or a fracture. This action will produce both a gradual deformity of the lower spine and a narrowing of the vertebral canal. The most common symptom is low back pain.

Thoracoscopic Spinal Surgery [+/-]


  • Instead of operating on the front of the spine through a large incision in the chest, surgery is performed through three or four half-inch incisions. Instruments, including a small scope equipped with a camera, are inserted through the small incisions, and the surgeon can see and operate inside the chest.