Problems with the spine are common and range from back pain or neck pain through to disc prolapse, spinal narrowing (stenosis) and more rarely instability, fractures or tumours.
Pain may result from muscle spasm, arthritis in the joints or disc degeneration. Most spinal pain is managed initially by your GP or physical therapist and often resolves within a few weeks. Severe or chronic pain causes understandable anxiety and in these cases a specialist appointment at The Brain & Spine Clinic and MRI imaging may be appropriate.
Nerve compression may lead to sciatica (leg pain) or arm pain which can also be accompanied by localised numbness or weakness. In these case MRI imaging is usually recommended after specialist assessment.
Most spinal conditions seen at the Brain & Spine Clinic can be managed by a combination of specialist advice, including specific reassurance about MRI findings, physical therapy, appropriate pain relief and occasionally epidural steroid injections from a pain expert. Surgery is reserved for persistent pain despite non-operative treatment.
Your Brain & Spine Clinic neurosurgeon will take a thorough history of your symptoms and perform a spinal examination which includes the arms and legs where appropriate. Please wear loose fitting clothing to clinic and a chaperone is available upon request. If possible, bring a friend or relative with you to your appointment , as they can ask extra questions and help remind you what was said.
Rarely spinal problems can cause spinal cord compression leading to problems with hand function, balance and walking or problems with bladder function. These types of conditions may require urgent surgery.
Most spinal surgery is elective, which means that you will be given adequate time to reflect on the risks and benefits of any operation before deciding if it is the correct option for you. Written information will be provided to you in a letter. If you require any extra information to help you decide, please phone, email or arrange an extra appointment.