Orthopaedics, as a branch, focuses on taking care of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is primarily composed of the muscles, bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and tendons. An orthopaedic spine surgeon specialises in assessing and tending to spine-related issues, diseases, and conditions. They offer and provide both non-operative and surgical treatments.
There are surgeons who specifically provide treatment for particular spine-related problems like scoliosis, and degenerative disc disorders. Some focus on a specific region of the spine, like the cervical or lumbar. The literal backbone of humans’ basic activities is the spine. Keeping the spine healthy and out of serious issues is essential. Ensuring that your spine is healthy equates to ensuring you can move, function, sleep and do other activities properly.
Doctors who specialise in orthopaedics treat different kinds of conditions, including the following and many more.
- Joint pain caused by arthritis.
- Soft tissue
- Shoulder pain and issues relating to the shoulder (for example, bursitis)
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Vertebral fractures
- Herniated discs
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sports injuries like tendonitis and meniscus tears
- Bone fractures
Common indications that you need to see an orthopaedic spine Surgeon
Differentiating serious from mild pain can be a bit of a blur. People usually avoid overreacting as it can cause panic. And so, the symptoms are commonly reduced to “random” pains and deemed as something not at all that severe. People tend to keep their pains and only visit an orthopaedic spine surgeon when the pain finally becomes unbearable. It’s important to observe and be mindful of spine health. As people say, everything in our body is connected. Therefore, spine-related issues can significantly affect other parts of the body.
Visiting your spine surgeon does not automatically equate to undergoing surgery. As much as possible, if unneeded, surgeons don’t directly resort to surgery and first suggest conservative methods like physical therapy, cortisone injections, or prescribe some medications.
Chronic or long-term pain
People might be confused or clueless in identifying whether their pains are chronic or acute. To differentiate, there are categories to help in determining if the pain is chronic or acute. Acute pain only lasts for a short time, for a few days or weeks. Acute pains usually disappear without the need for a further procedure to relieve the pain. However, if the pain lasts for four weeks or more, it might be categorized as subacute pain. Subacute pains can last for up to 12 weeks. Predominantly, these pains are mechanical and do not usually require surgery. A visit to a chiropractor is sometimes enough.
Chronic pains are the type of pain you need to look out for. These kinds of pains last longer than 12 weeks and typically carry on even after injuries or underlying causes have been medicated. It’s beneficial to see a specialist when you recognize that you might be having chronic pains. Some stubborn pains prompt you to see your surgeon.
If you happen to struggle from chronic back pains due to serious injuries, and perhaps you notice yourself losing too much more weight than usual, this might be a sign to visit your spine surgeon. The following are also signs to look out for.
- Back pains that come with a fever
- Back pains that come with chills
- Back pains accompanied by night sweats
- Back pains that do not get better at all and become more painful as time goes by, therefore, interfering with how you live
These are cases of back pains you should watch out for. If you are experiencing one or two of these cases, you might need to contact your orthopaedic spine surgeon.
- Tireless pain that spreads and radiates to arms and legs
- Issues in controlling bowel and bowel function
If you are experiencing constant runs to the bathroom and hours of sitting down on the toilet waiting for something you felt was urgent and necessary to come out but has not shown up, it might be time to visit your doctor. These issues can be signs of nerve damage that might be related or connected to spinal problems.
- Feeling numbness or weakness in a limb with no prior issues or losing the ability to move either an arm or a leg.
When you happen to find yourself experiencing one or two of these indications, it would be of your benefit to visit your trusted orthopaedic spine surgeon.
Keeping the Spine Healthy
To avoid visiting an orthopaedic spine surgeon, it is best to remember some precautions and take care of your spine.
- Watch your posture when working out, especially when it involves lifting. Picking up and lifting heavy objects without supervision or guidance from an expert can endanger you causing damage to your spine. If you are new to lifting, ask for some help from a professional. If the item is too heavy for you to lift, do not force yourself. It would be helpful to do it gradually and step by step.
- Stretching regularly is a huge help in keeping the spine healthy. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps in lowering the possibility of you having lower back pains. Stretching helps in fostering excellent joint function, and range of motion, and improves your spine health. It is important to engage in exercises designed for your medical condition. For instance, scoliosis exercises are designed to build strength in patients suffering from scoliosis.
- Getting a good night’s sleep also helps your body replenish its energy, and repair cells, tissues as well as muscles. When sleeping, it’s essential to refrain from laying down on your stomach as it places added pressure on your spine.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is also a massive help for the health of your spine. Too much weight can strain the lower back as muscles, ligaments, and tendons located in the spinal area receive additional stress.
- Hydrating yourself also helps in avoiding the shrinking of spinal discs because of dehydration. Shrinking of spinal discs can increase the possibility of developing serious and painful disc conditions like disc herniation.
- Getting a massage every once in a while is a relaxing and helpful activity to invigorate blood flow in your whole body or a particular area. Having a massage helps speed up the recuperation of the injured part or the body as a whole.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.