Ankylosing spondylitisA form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.
AnnulusThe fibrous outer wall of the vertebral disc that encases a soft gel-like center.
Anti-InflammatoryA drug that reduces swelling and inflammation.
ArthritisA common joint disease causing inflammation and pain.
Bone scanA test where a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the blood stream. This material collects in the bones and a scanner is used to detect the "hot spots" (the areas with more radioactive material) to help your doctor determine the location of the problem.
Bulging discOccurs when the annulus of a vertebral disc protrudes with the nucleus pulposus intact. Also known as a Contained Disc. See our treatment page for bulging disc treatment options.
CannulaSmall metal tubes through which surgical instruments are passed during percutaneous procedures.
Cervical spineThe first seven vertebrae starting at the base of the skull.
CoccyxThe last bone formation below the sacrum; also known as the tailbone.
Compressive neuropathyPressure on nerves that may cause swelling and pain.
Computed tomography (CT scan)An imaging tool that combines a series of x-ray views taken from many different angles to produce cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues.
CongenitalPresent at birth.
Contained discSee bulging disc.
Degenerative disc diseaseA biochemical change associated with aging that may cause discs to lose moisture, crack, and/or become thin.
DilateTo enlarge or expand.
DiscA cushion-like shock absorber located between two vertebrae.
Disc extrusionThe inner material of an intervertebral disc, nucleus pulposus, leaks into the spinal canal.
DiscectomySurgical removal of a portion of or an entire intervertebral disc.
DiscographyA specific kind of x-ray that uses dye to reveal the pathology of the discs.
ElectromyelogramA test used to determine normal (or abnormal) muscle function.
Epidural fibrosisThe formation of scar tissue near the nerve root.
FluoroscopyAn imaging tool allowing a surgical procedure to be seen as it is performed.
General anesthesiaDrugs used by an anesthesiologist during surgery that temporarily disable nerve impulses making the patient unconscious and pain free.
Herniated discOccurs when the disc ruptures and a portion of the nucleus of the disc pushes outside its normal boundary. Also known as a Non-Contained Disc. For more information on herniated disc treatment see our treatment page.
Intervertebral discsSee Disc.
LigamentsA short band of tough, flexible, fibrous tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint.
Local anesthesiaAn injection at or near the procedure site to block the pain impulses to the brain.
Lumbar spineThe five vertebrae that start after the last thoracic vertebrae.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)A diagnostic imaging tool that produces detailed images without radiation.
MicrodiscectomySurgical removal of a portion of or an entire vertebral disc using microscopic magnification.
Muscle spasmInvoluntary muscle movement due to trauma.
MyelogramA test where dye is injected into the spinal fluid before x-rays are taken to show pressure on spinal cord or nerves.
Nerve compressionSee Compressive Neuropathy.
NeuroforamenWindow-like openings that allow nerves to exit the spine.
Non-contained discSee Herniated Disc.
Nucleus pulposusThe gel-like center of a vertebral disc.
OsteoarthritisA degenerative form of arthritis.
OsteoporosisA disease that causes bones to lose density.
Outpatient surgerySame day surgery.
Percutaneous surgeryA surgical procedure performed through a small hole made in the patient's skin.
RadiculopathyPain caused by nerve irritation due to damage to the discs between the vertebrae.
Rheumatoid arthritisAn autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints.
Ruptured discAlso known as a Herniated Disc.
SacrumTriangular-shaped bone mass located below the last lumbar vertebra.
SciaticaA compressive neuropathy involving the sciatic nerve.
ScoliosisA disease that may cause the spine to curve to the side, usually into the shape of an "S" or a "C."
Sequestered Disc HerniationA free fragment of the nucleus pulposus in the spinal canal outside of the anulus fibrosus and no longer attached to the intervertebral disc.
Slipped discAlso known as a Herniated or Bulging Disc.
Soft tissue injuryInjury to non-bony portions of the spine.
Spinal columnA bony structure that protects the spinal cord and nerves, supports the body's weight, and permits upright posture. It is made up primarily of vertebrae, discs, and the spinal cord.
Spinal cordThe major bundle of nerves that carry nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal cord runs down through the middle of the spinal column, where it is safely protected.
Spinal instabilityOccurs when the ligaments, muscles, and discs are unable to maintain intersegmental control in reaction to physiological loads or stresses.
Spinal stenosisA narrowing or closing of the neuroforamen (windows) that may cause nerve compression and pain.
SpondylolisthesisA disorder that results when one vertebra slips over another.
Sprain/StrainOccurs when a muscle, ligament, or tendon is stretched beyond its normal limits.
Structural injuriesInjuries that affect the bones and discs and can cause chronic back and leg pain.
TendonA sturdy band of tissue that attaches muscle to bone.
Thoracic spineThe 12 vertebrae following the last cervical vertebra.
VertebraeOne (or more) of the 33 bones in the spinal column.
X-rayA diagnostic tool using radiation to create an image of a body part.
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