David Rogers, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery and minimally invasive techniques at the The Rogers Spine Surgery Institute in Glendale, California. With over 15 years of experience in spinal surgery, Dr. Rogers combines compassion and surgical excellence in caring for residents of the Glendale area.
What is Spinal Cord Compression?
The spinal cord runs through holes in the bones (vertebrae) of the spine. Cushions of cartilage called discs between each vertebrae act as shock absorbers while the vertebrae protect the spinal cord from injury. Pressure on the spinal cord can cause pain, numbness and weakness. In some cases, bladder and bowel control can be affected, or the extremities can even become paralyzed.
What Causes Spinal Cord Compression?
Spinal cord compression often results from an injury. Bone fractures, bleeding, infections and tumors may all cause compression. Another common problem occurs when the disk herniates, or bulges, into the spinal canal. A disk herniation can be the result of an acute injury or degenerative disk disease — gradual wear and tear on the spine. If the condition is not corrected, the spinal cord can be permanently damaged.
How is Spinal Cord Compression Treated?
Conservative treatment is often the first choice for back pain, but it depends on the symptoms. Steroid medications, rest, and physical therapy are all first-line strategies. If the spinal cord is compressed, however, conservative therapies are unlikely to solve the problem. Treatment depends on the cause. Tumors may be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of two or more. Blood must be drained and bone fractures repaired or at least stabilized so they can heal. A herniated disk may need to be removed.
How Successful is Spinal Surgery?
Each case is different, but many people experience significant pain relief after surgery, especially if the injury is acute and treatment is initiated early. Degeneration of the spine typically occurs over weeks or years, and although surgery may help, some patients still have pain. Minimally invasive techniques are typically more successful as there is less damage from the surgery itself. Dr. Rogers will provide a detailed consultation to determine the best course of treatment.