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The spine is an intricate and fragile structure. It is comprised of 25 joints that connect to 33 individual bones called vertebrae. There are 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae, 12 thoracic (mid-back) vertebrae, and 5 lumbar (low back) vertebrae. The rest of the lower vertebrae in the spine are fused together: 5 of them form the sacrum within the pelvis, while the last 4 form the tailbone (coccyx).
In between each vertebra is a disc made of cartilage. These intervertebral discs are shock-absorbing cushions that prevent the vertebrae from wearing against each other. A network of muscles and ligaments surround and support the spine.
In a healthy back, the joints work together and permit multiple degrees of motion. If any part of the spine is compromised by damage or disease, abnormal or excessive motion of the back may result in pain. Below is a list of some of the treatments for disease or disruption of the vertebrae, discs, or joints.
You also have two sacroiliac (SI) joints, one on each side of the sacrum. Reinforced by strong surrounding ligaments, these weight-bearing joints connect the sacrum and pelvis. Learn more about SI joint pain.
After a thorough examination and review of your medical history, Dr. Zack Witte will discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. Back or neck pain can often be treated without surgery. However, many spinal conditions respond well to surgical treatment. In properly selected patients, surgery provides relief of symptoms, returns function, halts neurological damage, and achieves or restores spinal stability. Traditionally, spine surgery is performed as open surgery which entails opening the operative site with a long incision so the surgeon can view and access the spinal anatomy. However, technology has advanced to the point where more spine conditions can be treated with minimally invasive techniques. This means that there is less disruption to the soft tissue surrounding the spine, leading to shorter operative time, less postoperative pain, and a faster recovery. Many procedures can now be performed in an outpatient setting using minimally invasive techniques. At Missoula Bone & Joint’s outpatient surgery center you will appreciate extended care in a private suite, if you require an overnight stay.
To learn more about a specific conditions Dr. Witte recommends https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/