27 Oct Spine disorders – the scourge of the modern man
MD Ph.D Bronius Špakauskas has been working as a neurosurgeon for over 40 years. With the doctoral dissertation in medicine, he has the highest qualification as a neurosurgeon. Most of his life, the doctor specializes in spine surgery, treating various spinal disorders, oncological diseases, and traumatic deformities.
The invaluable experience gained over many years and the attentiveness to the patient’s pain are only a few of the main factors why the neurosurgeon is so popular among patients. We decided to talk to MD Ph. D. Bronius Špakauskas about the main spinal disorders and their symptoms.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE STRUCTURE OF THE SPINE AND ITS MAIN FUNCTION?
In short – the spine consists of the vertebrae. It is of the osseous structure. Between the vertebrae, there are intervertebral discs that work as shock absorbers. The vertebrae are connected by joints, leaving an opening in the center where the spinal cord and the nerves that come out of it pass. Peripheral nerves pass through each of these openings, both left and right. With their help due to nerve impulses, we can bend, stretch, move arms, legs, make subtle movements, move around, walk.
WHAT ARE THE MOST FREQUENT SPINE DISORDERS?
While talking about spine disorders, the most common and popular form is osteochondrosis. It is a degenerative disorder that primarily affects the intervertebral discs and the edges of the vertebrae. The symptoms of the disorder are pain, restriction of movement, spreading pain to the hands, feet, sometimes with numbness or even weakness. The main manifestation of osteochondrosis is intervertebral disc herniation. This is the condition when a cartilage fragment erupts from the intervertebral disc. A person may feel pain or numbness in the arm or leg. Regarding the height of the lesion, intervertebral disc hernias usually occur at two sites – between the cervical vertebrae and the lower lumbar vertebrae. This is because these sites are responsible for the largest spinal loading, flexibility, and mobility. Therefore, what is used most often first falls apart.
AT WHAT AGE PATIENTS DO USUALLY REFER TO A NEUROSURGEON?
While talking about the most popular disease – the intervertebral disc herniation, this disease occurs at a young working age. Age ranges between 35 years and 50/60 years. Intervertebral disc hernias are not common in the elderly. If you have not had an intervertebral disc hernia before age 70, you are unlikely to have it in older age. However, older people have other degenerative spinal diseases – osteochondrosis of the spine. This is spinal canal stenosis, a narrowing of the openings through which the nerves pass. Spinal stenosis causes different symptoms and complaints, some of which are similar to intervertebral disc hernias. To distinguish them from one another, specialist consultation and, often, certain paraclinical research methods are required. Such as computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging. After many years as a spine surgeon specializing in spinal problems, I see patients with such complaints. From all the patients that I consult, surgery is required for no more than 10 percent. Therefore, the myth that if you visit neurosurgeon you must be prepared for surgery is not true. Only a small percentage of patients need surgery.