The neurologists and neurosurgeons at Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s Lundquist Neurosciences Institute offer expert surgical and nonsurgical care for a full range of conditions that involve the spine. Our affiliation with the neurology and neurosurgery team at Cedars-Sinai — which is ranked among the best hospitals in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery care by U.S. News & World Report and has been recognized as Southern California's #1 spine program — means that our patients have access to some of the nation’s top doctors, the most promising clinical trials, and the latest and best treatments.
What is a Spine Disorder?
A spine disorder is a condition that causes a problem with spine function or structure. Types of spine disorders include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Back spasm
- Chiari malformation
- Chronic back or neck pain
- Compression fractures
- Degenerative disc disease
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Facet joint syndrome
- Failed back and failed fusion syndrome
- Flatback syndrome
- Foramen stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Pinched nerve
- Piriformis syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Spina bifida
- Spinal meningiomas
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal tumors
Symptoms of a spine disorder can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, but may include:
- Numbness, pain, or tingling radiating to your arms or legs
- Pain, pressure, or stiffness in your back or neck
- Difficulty walking
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Inability to move your arms or legs
Causes and Risk Factors
Spine disorders have a variety of causes, including:
- Accidents, falls, or other injuries
- Disorders that are present at birth (congenital disorders)
- Genetic (inherited) disorders
- Wear and tear as a result of aging
Although the causes of some spine disorders are unknown, factors that may increase your risk of developing spine problems include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Repetitive or strenuous activities
- Poor posture
- Using improper lifting techniques
- A personal history of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disease
To diagnose a spinal disorder, your doctor will review your medical history, evaluate your symptoms, and ask questions about when and how your symptoms started. Your doctor also may perform exams or order tests, including:
- Neurological exam. Neurological exams will differ depending on your age, but older children and adults will be asked to answer questions and complete simple tasks to test movement, muscle condition, the function of each of the senses, and general neurological well-being.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. Your doctor may order a CT scan of your spine to check for abnormalities.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and magnetic fields to create detailed images of your body. An MRI may be ordered to determine if there are abnormalities in your spine.
- X-ray. Your healthcare provider may order an x-ray of your neck or spine to check for broken bones or signs of other disorders.
- Biopsy. A biopsy involves collecting a sample of tumor tissue and testing it to determine if the tumor is cancerous or benign. Some biopsies are done as part of the surgery to remove a tumor, but a spinal tumor biopsy also can be performed using a stereotactic needle guided by an MRI or CT scan.
- Electromyography (EMG). An EMG test involves stimulating your nerves and measuring muscle response or electrical activity in your muscles.
Our spine specialists offer a full range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for spinal disorders. In most cases, our specialists will provide nonsurgical care as the first course of treatment and consider surgery as a last resort if nonsurgical treatments do not provide sufficient symptom relief.
Your spine specialist may recommend nonsurgical treatments, including:
- Medications, ice/heat therapy, or injections to treat pain and swelling
- Bracing to provide additional support
- Physical therapy to improve strength and mobility
If you require surgery, our spine specialists use minimally invasive treatment methods whenever possible to minimize post-surgical pain, shorten recovery time, and reduce the risk of complications. Our surgeons also offer microsurgery, which is performed under magnification for more precise results.
Surgical procedures include:
- Herniated disc surgery. If one of the gel-like discs that provides cushioning between the vertebrae in your spine becomes damaged, your neurosurgeon may remove disc fragments or the entire damaged disc. If your neurosurgeon removes the entire damaged disc, he or she may replace it with an artificial disc.
- Spinal fusion. Spinal fusion permanently joins two or more vertebrae in the spine so there is no movement between them.
- Kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is used to treat spinal fractures and collapsed vertebra. During the procedure, your neurosurgeon will inflate a small balloon to raise your collapsed vertebra and inject bone cement to stabilize your spine.
- Procedures to relieve nerve pressure. Our neurosurgeons perform a range of procedures to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, including laminectomy, laminotomy, and foraminotomy.