Being told that you have a spine problem is often a stressful experience. Apart from the fear of going under the knife, there is one more big fear that many patients around the world are facing - It is the Cost of Spine Surgery. Spine surgery treatment is one of the expensive surgeries and requires highly skilled spine surgeons with vast experience. In some countries the spine surgery is so expensive that it is beyond the reach of uninsured or under-insured patients and in some other countries they just do not have the facilities or expert surgeons to do the spine surgery. Hence so many patients with spine problems travel to India in search of Affordable and High Quality Spine Surgery.
The main support structure to your back is the spine. The spine is made up of 33bone structures that acts as building blocks. These bones are called the vertebrae. Between the vertebrae,there are round and flat discs that act as shock absorbers and allow your spine to bend. These discs are like cushion. Your spinal cord, which is a long, thin and tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells, threads down through the central canal of each vertebra. The spinal cord carries the nerves from your brain to the rest of your body.Your spine has many important functions to perform. It protects the spinal cord from injuries. Moreover, your back bone or the spine is responsible for supporting your body, maintaining your posture, and facilitating the twisting, bending and other movements of your body.
There are three main components in your Spine.
1. Bones and Discs
2. Spinal Cord and Nerve Roots
3. Muscles and Ligaments
Your spine is slightly S-shaped. These curves of the spine function as a coiled spring which helps in maintaining balance of the body, absorbing shock and allowing proper movement.
Your spine is composed of 33 small boney building blocks like structure known as vertebrae. Eventhough these vertebrae are interlocked with each other, they are separated with the help of a cushion like structure known as spine discs or Intervertebral discs. Out of these 33 vertebras of your spine, only 24 are movable.
1. Cervical region- There are seven vertebrae in this region from C1 to C7. These seven vertebrae make up the neck of our body. These vertebrae are responsible to support the weight of the head and provide movement to the neck. The cervical region of the spinehas got the maximum range of motion. The two special vertebrae, C1 and C2,help in providing such a range of motion.
2. Thoracic region- This thoracic spine region comprises 12 vertebrae from T1 to T12 and constitutes your Upper back. The thoracic spine region is attached to the rib cage and is responsible for protecting the different organs present in the chest region. This region has a very limited range of motion.
3. Lumbar region- The lumbar region of spine consists of 5 large sized vertebrae from L1 to L7. These make up the lower back of ourbody. The lumbar region of spineplays a very vital role as it bearsalmost the entire weight of the upper body. Most of the spine problems occur in this region.
4. Sacral region- In the sacral region of the spine, there are 5 vertebrae. These five vertebrae are fused together to form a bony sacrum. This sacrum inconjugation with the hip bones forms a Pelvic Girdle. The pelvic girdle is butterfly-shaped and protects the pelvic organs.
5. Coccygeal region- The Coccygeal region of the spine is also known as Coccyx. In common language, it is fondly called the tailbone of the body. The Coccygeal region of the spine is formed by thefusion of the remaining 4 vertebrae. The Coccygeal region of the spine is not of much use to your body. It is believed that they are the embryologicalleftover of a tail that existed in our ancestors.
Intervertebral Discs or Spine Discs: The 24 movable vertebrae of the spine are separated with the help of cushion like structures.These structures are called the intervertebral discs or spine discs.These spine discs are responsible to prevent the erosion of vertebras from rubbing against each other. These discs have two parts, the inner part and the outer part. The inner portion is known as Nucleus Pulposus .The outer part is known as Annulus Fibrous. The Nucleus Pulposes is a gel like fluid like a tyre tube that is present inside this tire thread like mesh of Annulus Fibrous. The gel filled nucleus is made up of fluid which is absorbed during the night time when we lie down and it is pushed out again once we move upright. As people grow old, these discs lose the capability of properly reabsorbing the fluid.This makes the discs flat and brittle and thus it affects our height as we grow old or may create spine problems.
The spinal cord is a long, thin and tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that pass the messages between the brain and the rest of the body and is commonly known as an information super-highway. Hence any injury to the spinal cord can lead to a loss in the sensory and motor functions of the body. There are a total of 31 nerves stem out from the spinal cord. Out of 31 nerves, 8 are present in the Cervical region of the spine, 12 in thoracic region of the spine, 5 in the Lumbar Spine region ,5 in Sacral Spine region and 1 in the coccygeal region. These nerves carry to and fro communication between the body and the spinal cord and finally to the brain. Hence these nerves help in controlling the movement and sensation of the body.
Flexors and Extensors are the two key groups of muscles that influence and stabilize the spine. Muscles help in easing the stress on spine. Ligaments are rope-like band of tissues that help in stabilizing the spine, protecting the intervertebral discs and hold the vertebrae together.
Back pain is very common. It is found that atleast four in five people experience back pain at some point in their lifetime and anyone can get back pain at any age. However, back pain is most common in people between the age group of 35 to 55 years, or over. Most common back pain is the lower back pain. It can be a short-term problem, lasting a few days or weeks, or it may a long-term problem that may continue for many months or even years.
There are several potential sources for a back pain. However, most of the back pains arise due to some or the other problem associated with your spine or commonly known as the back bone. Your spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments and all of which are capable of producing pain. There are large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms. Hence people, who suffer from severe back pain, feel the pain radiating to the extremities.
It is often very difficult to know exactly what causes back pain, but it's usually thought to be related to a strain in one of the interconnecting structures in your back, rather than a nerve problem. It is found that back pain caused by a more serious underlying condition is rare.
For most people with back pain, there isn't any specific, underlying problem or condition that can be identified as the cause of the pain. However, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing back pain orworsen it once you already have the pain. Some of such factors are as follows.
Sitting or standing or bending down for long periods
Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling things that are too heavy
Lifting or pushing or carrying heavy things in a wrong way or in a poor posture
A trip or a fall
Stress or Anxiety
Poor posture while standing or sitting or lying down
Apart from the above mentioned causes, there may be other causes that more serious, but these are rare. Some of the serious underlying causes are as follows.
Abnormal Curvature - The spine has natural curves that help balance your body. In some people these curves may become too pronounced or develops a twist or an extra curve. If this happens then it may put extra pressure on the vertebrae and discs causing severe pain and difficulty in moving. Some of the abnormal curvatures are as follows.
Scoliosis -Where the spine is curved from side to side
Kyphosis - It is the over-curvature of the thoracic vertebrae or the upper back forming a hump. Kyphosis is also called as Kelso's hunchback.
Lordosis - It is the inward over-curvature of a portion of the lumbar ( lower back) and cervical ( neck region) spine region
Degenerated Disc - Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a disease that causes changes of the spinal discs. The very common changes are thinning, hardening and drying out. The degeneration of the discs can result from wear-and-tear, injury, disease or unusual stress. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) degenerates the disc/s and canirritate the spinal nerves and cause instability in the spine.
Bulging Disc - The spine disc bulges out when the outer wall of a spinal disc weakens.The disc may push out toward the nerves and puts pressure on it. This can cause a very painful nerve irritation.
Herniated Disc - In some people the outer wall of a spinal disc may rupture or tear. If this happens then the soft material inside the disc can just come out and press the nearby nerves, creating pressure on them. Such a situation may cause pain, numbness or weakness in the legs or back.
Fractures - Stress or a condition like osteoporosis may make the bones weak and brittle. Weak and brittle bones may crack or break the vertebrae causing fractures. This may happen even by an injury.
Instability - Spinal Instability is the excessive motion ( slipping back and forth) of vertebral bodies in relation to one another. This can be the result of an injury, damaged spinal disc, tumour, previous surgery or just something you were born with. Spinal instability may cause severe neck or back pain. If the nerve roots are compressed or irritated then the pain may radiate to the arms or legs.
Stenosis - Stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. Stenosis can put a lot of pressure onyour spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. This may cause pain and other symptoms. This occurs most often in neck cervical spine region ( neck) and the lower back region.
Nerve Problems - Bulging Disc, Herniated Disc, Spine fractures, Abnormal Curvature, Stenosis and Spine Instability can irritate or press on (pinch) the spinal cord or nerves. Such a situation can cause severe pain, numbness, weakness and other problems.
Initially your doctor will usually be able to diagnose low back pain from your symptoms and there will be no need for further tests. Some conservative treatments may work out. In fact most of the back pains do not require further tests or surgical intervention. If at allyour symptoms don't improve after a few weeks, or you have some red flag symptoms then your doctor may refer you to further tests which may involve any of the following tests. These following tests are used to find out whether you have a more specific, underlying cause for your back pain.
a CT scan
an MRI scan
Our network Spine Centres in India offer a comprehensive non-surgical and surgical treatment for various spinal disorders including degenerative conditions of the spine, such as cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis, cervical or lumbar disc herniation, and scoliosis and adult deformity of the spine.
One of the advanced technologies that spine surgeons at our network spine hospitals in India use is the neuro-navigation technology. The conventional MRI and CT scans can provide detailed pre-operative information. But a neuro-navigation technology allows the neurosurgeon to view this information in real time during the surgery. This technique provides a track of the surgical procedure and instrumentation in real time, in relation to a patient's anatomy while the surgery is being performed. Using neuro-navigation technology helps neurosurgeons to accurately detect the place where they are working in a patient's body at every moment during surgery.This allows the neurosurgeons to make smaller incisions and minimise the exposure.
Some of our network spine hospitals in India have dedicated neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The neurosurgical ICU offers the most advanced monitoring and treatment for patients with spine and neurological diseases. The neurosurgical ICU is staffed by full-time spine, neurological and critical care specialists. There is also a multidisciplinary team of specially trained physicians, nurses, therapists, and other professionals. This helps in providing balanced and attentive care to the patients.
Our network spine hospitals in India have the latest and the most advanced cutting edge technology for the diagnosis of various types of spine problems.The hospitals have 3T MRI, 64 Slice CT, Cerebral angiography (DSA), routine ultrasound and digital radiography. The presence of advanced technology helps in offering an array of diagnostic and minimally invasive surgical procedures.
It is not just the spine surgeon who would be involved in treating you. There is a team that would be looking after you. The team is multidisciplinary andhas highly experienced and qualified doctors from various specialties, nurses and paramedical staff work. The team would be under the direct supervision of your treating spine surgeon. The team will discuss and plan your treatment so that you get the complete care and recover faster.
There are experts or specialists in minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgeries are routinely done at our network spine hospitals in India. A minimally Invasive Spine surgery can offer several advantages over the traditional open spine surgery. The minimally invasive spine surgery does not require big incisions, muscle stripping, more anaesthesia, a longer hospital stay, and a long recuperation period. Some of the very common benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery are shorter hospital stay, lesser postoperative pain, lesser blood loss, reduced risk of infection, lessscarring and shorter recovery time.
You will find a dedicated and an advanced physiotherapy and rehabilitation departments at our network spine hospitals in India.The hospitals understand the role of physiotherapy in quicker recovery and better mobility of the patient. The department has highly experienced physiotherapists who have the expertise and skills in pain relief, movement, exercises, manual techniques and manipulation to treat, rehabilitate and educate people with a wide range of spine problems.