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Comprehensive Spine

The spine is a complex area of expertise that touches upon multiple medical specialties, both orthopedic and neurologic. Together, the brain and spinal cord make up the body’s central nervous system, with the brain serving as a command center and the spinal cord as an information pathway. This pathway runs both ways; for example, the brain sends a signal down the spinal column telling your hand to pick up a cup of coffee. If the coffee is too hot, the nervous system takes a pain message back to your brain. A network of nerves called the peripheral nervous system branches out from the spine to deliver commands from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. The central and nervous system work together to control:

  • Motor functions (voluntary muscle movements)
  • Sensory functions including touch, pressure, temperature and pain
  • Autonomic Functions – regulates digestion, urination, body temperature, heart rate, and dilation/contraction of blood vessels (blood pressure)

While medical issues involving the spinal cord and nervous system generally fall under neurology, the spine is more than an information network. It is a delicate assembly of bones that support your neck, head and torso and allow your body to twist and turn. As anyone who’s ever had back pain knows, sometimes the spine is less supportive than we would like. Disc issues, bone spurs and scoliosis are all examples of degenerative and structural issues that can affect the spine. These structural, bone-related issues require the expertise of a spine surgeon. The El Camino Hospital Spine Program encompasses both neurological and orthopedic spine conditions, and our specialists collaborate to ensure the best possible outcome for each individual.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Spine surgery has traditionally entailed large incisions, a significant amount of trauma to the surrounding tissues, and a lengthy recovery. All this has changed dramatically, and for the better, with the development of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our spine specialists have extensive experience with the latest Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) techniques, several of which they actually pioneered. These procedures can be used to treat such conditions as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative scoliosis and spondylolisthesis. Compared to traditional spine surgery, MISS techniques offer the following significant advantages:

  • Less trauma to the spine and surrounding structures
  • Much smaller incisions than with traditional surgical techniques
  • Minimal blood loss
  • Hospitalizations are often less than 24 hours
  • Faster return to work and an active lifestyle

Spinal Fusion

When non-surgical treatments to chronic back pain fail to provide relief, surgery may be the best treatment option. Our expert neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons use a variety of surgical approaches, including spinal fusion, an operation that causes the bones of the spine to fuse together, eliminating all motion between them. The disc between the two vertebrae is removed, along with any associated bone spurs. This reduces pressure on the nerves of the spine and alleviates pain. There are many different surgical approaches to spinal fusion. These include:

  • Surgery through an incision in the back
  • Surgery through an incision in the abdomen
  • Surgery through incisions in both the back and abdomen

The decision on what type of fusion is best for you will be based on your specific issues and the cause of your symptoms. In addition to traditional approaches to spinal fusion, we are now offering minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion for appropriate candidates.

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