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Spine Disorders

What are Spine Disorders?

Spinal disorders are the disturbance of normal functioning of the spinal column and/or spinal cord. Common spine disorders include bulging or ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy. Visit A-Z Health Topics to learn more about spine disorders.

Diagnosis

We use several technologies to diagnose spine disorders, including:

  • Electromyogram. Electromyogram is a noninvasive procedure used to detect abnormal muscle electrical activity in many diseases and conditions, including muscular dystrophy, inflammation of muscles, pinched nerves, damage to nerves in the arms and legs, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig disease), myasthenia gravis, disc herniation and others.
  • Evoked potentials. Evoked potentials are helpful in evaluating a number of different problems including spinal cord injuries, acoustic neuroma (benign tumor that may develop on the hearing and balance nerves near the inner ear) and optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve causes loss of vision and eye pain).
  • Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring. During surgery electroneurodiagnostic studies are used to monitor and evaluate the electrical activity of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). During magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the body is exposed to electromagnetic radiation that can detect, process and convert images of the body’s soft tissue, such as the brain or spinal cord, into computer images.
  • Myelography. This X-ray test is used to examine the spinal cord or help diagnose leg or back problems. This test uses dye that is directly injected into the spinal canal to show areas where the spinal cord is being pinched by vertebrae.

Treatments

Bone Implants

Bone implants are highly effective in relieving pain and improving mobility in people with routine disc disease in the lower back and neck. The bone implants use small wedges of bone milled to fit between two or more spinal vertebrae. The implants help eliminate abnormal motion in the disc space by placing the load along the spine in the way it is intended.

Image-Guided System

The image-guided system used during brain surgery consists of CT and/or MRI scans to provide a clear picture of the area of the brain the surgeon will operate on. This system is so precise the surgeon does not need to look at the actual brain during surgery but rather the computer on which the mapped brain images are enhanced.

Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is a slightly invasive, outpatient procedure to treat patients suffering from lower back pain caused by herniations or tears in the lumbar discs. A hollow needle is inserted into the affected lower lumbar disc followed by an electrothermal catheter (heating wire). The electrothermal catheter is heated for about 15 minutes, contracting and thickening fibers in the wall of the lumbar disc. The heat promotes healing of tears and cracks in the disc. In addition, nerve endings in the affected area are cauterized (burned) to make them less sensitive.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty treats spine fracture complications such as intense pain, posture problems and pressure on the lungs that reduces their capacity. This minimally invasive surgical procedure inflates a special balloon inside the fractured vertebra to expand the bone back to its normal position.

Rehabilitation

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy facilitates basic treatment techniques used in the gym by including the properties of water (buoyancy, resistance, support and warmth) to challenge and strengthen the patient’s balance, coordination, muscle, endurance, range of motion and tone.

Back School

Back School offers a basic introduction to spinal anatomy, proper lifting techniques and body postures, as well as an opportunity for participants to practice these skills.

Home Health

The Home Health program at Saint Francis Medical Center features caring, highly skilled therapists, nurses and aides who provide various healthcare services to people confined to their homes. Individualized plans of care are developed for qualified patients based on input from physicians, Home Health staff and at-home caregivers.

Neuropsychology Services

As the only provider in the region with both a neuropsychologist and a behavioral psychologist on staff, Saint Francis Medical Center provides expert care for patients suffering from emotional/cognitive problems due to bodily injury. Inpatient rehabilitation staff helps patients develop coping skills, establish appropriate expectations and modify their lifestyle in accordance with any physical limitations to maintain a positive outlook on life.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists and assistants at Saint Francis Medical Center are focused on increasing independence and improving quality of life. This involves developing individualized treatment programs for patients to help them reach goals in regard to the social, emotional and physiological effects of illnesses and injuries, including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia. Caregivers also assist patients in restoring daily living activities, such as self-care, work and leisure.

Pediatric Rehabilitation

The specialized pediatric rehabilitation program supports an interdisciplinary team approach to treating communication, physical, social and behavioral needs. Therapists are experienced at keeping children motivated during therapy sessions.

Physical Therapy

Through the use of exercises and applications that promote and restore normal function and development, physical therapists and assistants at Saint Francis Medical Center help patients overcome injuries and other physically debilitating conditions.

Recreational Therapy

Saint Francis Medical Center’s recreational therapy caregivers work with patients to improve skills and provide information needed to ensure successful adjustment into their home or community environment.

Social Work

Social workers at Saint Francis Medical Center meet with the family members of patients to counsel them in regard to lifestyle changes and connect them to community resources to meet patients’ needs.

Support Groups

Saint Francis Medical Center offers patients and their family members access to various support groups related to a variety of neurological conditions and diseases that allow individuals to share feelings and concerns with one another in a safe, non-threatening environment.

To learn about support groups in Cape Girardeau and at Saint Francis visit our Support Groups page.