The spine physicians of The Spine Center at OCI diagnose, evaluate and treat patients with varying degrees of neck and back pain. In addition to traditional orthopedic issues, we are experts at diagnosing and treating spinal tumors and infectious diseases that occur in the spine.

Many cases of back and spine pain can be treated with non-operative treatment. If conservative treatment fails, our physicians utilize the latest state-of-the-art techniques to correct the ailment. We focus on minimally invasive treatment options whenever possible to minimize muscle trauma and reduce recovery time.

Interventional pain management for non-surgical relief of back pain

If you are a patient who does not require or is not a good candidate for surgery, The Spine Center of Illinois provides non-surgical pain management. Our pain management specialists, or physiatrists, have unparalleled expertise in understanding and diagnosing the causes of back pain. They will create and manage an effective treatment program and rehabilitation plan that provides the best possible outcome based on your individual need. Our goal is always to restore normal function and improve your quality of life from a physical, emotional, and vocational perspective.

Common procedures performed at The Spine Center of Illinois

Fusion techniques, open and minimally invasive: For patients with spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease or back pain associated with nerve root compression, fusion surgery may be a viable option. Fusion requires the healing of one bone to the next, in this case one vertebra to the next. Fusion can be performed from the front or back of the spine. During surgery, the disc is removed and an implant is placed between the vertebrae to restore disc height and provide a conduit for fusion. Then screws and rods are placed with the use of x-ray through two very small incisions. The procedure usually requires only one to two days in the hospital.

Cervical and lumbar disc replacement: This procedure involves removing the disc and replacing it with a prosthesis, the goal being to allow the area in the spine to retain its flexibility and range of motion.

Nerve root blocks: Steroid and anesthetic medicine is injected into the nerve sheath surrounding the nerve root in the spine to temporarily “block” the nerve from relaying pain.

Medial branch block:  Local anesthetic is placed where it can block the nerve that may be transmitting pain from a facet joint in the neck or back.  If this diagnostic procedure stops a person’s pain for the time expected with the local, it suggests the person’s pain can be more permanently reduced by doing a radio frequency neurotomy procedure.

Radiofrequency neurotomy: When medial branch block has been proven effective to block pain coming from a facet joint in the neck or back, a radiofrequency neurotomy can be used to deaden the nerve.  This procedure may effectively reduce cervical or lumbar facet joint pain for more than a year, and can be repeated.

Epidural injections: Cortisone shots can decrease pain coming from a nerve that may be getting pinched by a herniated disc or by narrowing of the spinal nerve channels (spinal stenosis).  These fluoroscopy-guided injections are done with the aid of computer and x-ray technology and can deliver the anti-inflammatory medication directly to a specific problem area.

Vertebral augmentation: There are two types of vertebral augmentation used to treat vertebral compression fractures. Kyphoplasty is a technique that involves the use of a percutaneous balloon tamp. The balloon is inserted into the fractured vertebra and slowly inflated to improve its shape. The balloon device creates a hole or cavity in the vertebral body, which is then filled with bone cement and hardens, thereby stabilizing the fracture. Vertebroplasty is a similar technique but does not use a balloon tamp to create space. The cement is injected directly into the vertebra.

Discography: Discography is a test used to determine whether disc damage may be the source of back pain. The doctor inserts a needle into the disc and injects a contrast dye. A CT scan will show changes in the disc size or shape. The test relies upon the reproducibility of the pain described by the patient.

Bracing: Bracing is most often used to treat some adolescents with scoliosis to keep the spinal curve from enlarging. The kind of brace is determined by factors such as where the curve is located on the spine, how flexible the curve is, and whether there is more than one curve.

Electromyography: EMG is a test used to measure the electrical activity in your muscles and identify nerve damage, if any.

Spinal cord stimulation trials and implants: Some back pain can be treated by sending an electrical current, supplied by a small pulse generator implanted in the body, to the affected are. The surgeon will start by inserting a trial stimulator. If it is effective, he will implant a permanent one under the skin and run wires to the spinal canal. The doctor will work with you to determine an appropriate stimulation schedule, generally 1 to 2 hours, 3 or 4 times a day.