Man rubbing his lower back.

Neurosurgeons Got Your Back

Your back hurts. Obviously, it’s something wrong with the bones in your spine, right? Actually, the culprit is more likely to be a nerve within your spinal column. So consider putting your back pain in the right hands… a neurosurgeon’s hands.

Why does it hurt? “Generally people end up in pain because a nerve is being compressed or pinched by some mechanical aspect of the body, like a disc or piece of bone,” explains Charles H. Clark, III, MD, with Neurosurgical Associates in Birmingham. Fortunately, neurosurgeons specifically train for years on the entire nervous system, including how to relieve the pain created in the spine.

My back! My back!
About 75% of most neurosurgeons’ patients are dealing with back pain. “Usually for us, the most common procedures are to treat lumbar and cervical problems, such as herniated discs,” says Dr. Clark.

You’re home the same day. People often think back surgeries will keep them hospitalized and down for days. “But more than half of the spinal procedures we do, like routine cervical disc or lumbar work, are outpatient procedures now,” says Dr. Clark.

Did you know smoking hurts your back? “It can accelerate back and neck problems, because it constricts blood vessels, and the spine is alive with tiny blood vessels,” says Dr. Clark. “Less blood flow from constricted vessels has been shown to increase your chances of having back problems.”

Is surgery the only way? The body, says Dr. Clark who’s been practicing neurosurgery for 31 years, is a remarkable healing machine. “People can get well without surgery, and sometimes doctors are too quick to do surgery,” he says. So at Neurosurgical Associates, both surgical and non-surgical physicians provide you with numerous options for treating back pain.

Seven more years. The reason you’ll never waste time seeing a neurosurgeon for your back pain, or any nerve-oriented pain, is because they spend as many years learning about the nervous system and its various treatment options as you did going through middle school AND high school combined. That’s seven focused years after medical school just on their specialty.

So remember that when it comes to back pain, “the symptom is coming from that nerve,” says Dr. Clark. “And neurosurgeons know how to manipulate nerves and the structures that are pinching that nerve. It’s what we’ve spent years learning to do for you.”

by Jane Ehrhardt

To read more about Dr. Charles Clark, click here.
For more on Neurosurgical Associates, click here.

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