The anatomy of your spine
Your spine, also known as the backbone or vertebral column, is the central skeletal support structure of your body, supporting your body’s weight and maintaining your upright posture. It provides a point of attachment for muscles and other bones, allowing for movement of your torso, head and neck.
Your spine is made up of a collection of 33 small irregularly shaped bones, called vertebrae. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, extending from the base of the skull to the lower back. Each vertebra has a large central hole (called the vertebral foramen). When the vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, they form the vertebral canal, through which the spinal cord runs. The spinal cord is a collection of nerve fibres that provide nervous system function to the whole body.
There is a soft, spongy structure, called an intervertebral disk, sandwiched between each consecutive vertebra. The way the intervertebral disks and vertebrae are stacked form the natural s-curve of the spine. The disks also function as shock absorbers, reducing the impact of everyday movements such as walking, running and jumping.
Overall, the spine plays a critical role in the body's stability, movement, and protection of the nervous system. Conditions that affect the spine can have life-altering effects on your well-being.
What Is Spine Surgery?
Spinal surgery is a type of orthopaedic surgery that involves treating conditions affecting the bones, tendons, ligaments and intervertebral disks of the spine. The treatment aims to alleviate pain, improve mobility and function, and prevent further damage to the spinal cord and nerves.
Spine surgery may be performed through traditional open surgery, where a large incision is made in the back, or minimally invasive surgery, where several small incisions are made and specialized instruments are used to access the spine. The choice of surgical approach depends on the patient's specific condition and the surgeon's experience and preference.
Common conditions of the spine include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractures, and deformities. Spinal surgery is also used to implant medical devices such as spinal cord stimulators. Standard procedures used to treat spinal disorders include laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion, spinal decompression, spinal instrumentation, and spinal cord stimulation.
The lamina is the roof of the spinal canal, which supports and protects the back of the spinal cord. When the spinal canal becomes narrowed, or damaged in some way, it causes pressure on the spinal cord, which could result in pain and loss of function.
A laminectomy may be recommended when conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications, or injections have not provided adequate relief of symptoms. A laminectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of the lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. In some cases, additional tissue such as ligaments may also need to be removed to achieve the desired results. A laminectomy treats spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), herniated discs, and other spinal conditions.
A laminectomy is a major surgical procedure that carries risks and potential complications, and it should only be considered after careful evaluation and discussion with a qualified healthcare professional.
Intervertebral disks are made up of a soft interior, called the nucleus pulposus, and a thicker outer portion called the annulus. When a disk herniates, a part of the nucleus pulposus pushes through the outer annulus, forming a protrusion.
A discectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a herniated or degenerative intervertebral disc in the spine. It is typically done to relieve pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord caused by a herniated disc. The procedure involves removing the damaged disc material and any fragments that may have broken off. The goal of the procedure is to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that joins two or more vertebrae together to form a single, solid bone. The procedure is used to treat a variety of conditions, including spinal instability, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and fractures. During the procedure, a surgeon will use bone grafts, metal plates, screws, and rods to join the vertebrae together. The goal of the procedure is to reduce pain and improve stability in the spine.
Spinal instrumentation is a surgical procedure that involves the use of implants such as rods, screws, hooks, and wires to stabilize the spine and correct spinal deformities. It is used to treat conditions such as scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and traumatic fractures. The implants are used to hold the spine in place while the bones and ligaments heal.
Spinal decompression is a type of therapy used to treat back pain. It involves stretching the spine using a traction table or similar motorized device. This helps to relieve pressure on the discs and nerves in the spine, which can help reduce pain and improve mobility.
Spinal decompression therapy can help improve posture, as well as reduce inflammation and muscle spasms. It can also be used to treat herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and sciatica.
Spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation is a type of neuromodulation therapy (altering the function of the nervous system by introducing an external stimulus to the neural tissue) that involves the implantation of a small device near the spine to deliver electrical pulses to the spinal cord. These pulses can help reduce pain signals from reaching the brain and can help reduce pain in certain conditions, such as chronic back pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy.
Spinal surgery is a medical procedure used to treat various conditions that affect the spine and can help alleviate pain, improve mobility, and prevent further damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Different types of spine surgery, such as laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion, spinal decompression, spinal instrumentation, and spinal cord stimulation, are used to treat a range of spinal disorders, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractures, and deformities. The choice of surgical approach depends on the patient's specific condition and the surgeon's experience and preference.