18:11 PM

Sure Signs You Need to See a Spine Specialist

Eat This, Not That! discusses signs that indicate the need to see a spine specialist according to experts including HSS Florida physiatrist Angelie Mascarinas, MD, and HSS spine surgeon Sariah Khormaee, MD, PhD.

According to Dr. Mascarinas, “Certain issues associated with the spine (i.e. lumbar disc herniations or lumbar spine nerve compression) can cause referred pain or numbness (pins/needles sensation) into the buttocks or legs and can also cause leg weakness.”

“An unaddressed issue such as a large lumbar disc herniation can cause bowel/bladder issues if there is significant stenosis (narrowing in the spine) due to the disc herniation," she added.

She explained, “Numbness or weakness in the leg or foot can indicate nerve compression in the lumbar spine. This can be assessed by determining where there is difficulty when performing a calf raise,  difficulty when walking on your heels, or if your foot drops or slaps the ground while walking.”

Dr. Mascarinas noted another sign is if pain persists for 4-6 weeks. “70% of cases of disc herniations in the general population have significant improvement of back and leg pain within 4-6 weeks. Therefore, if symptoms are not improving, a spine specialist can evaluate symptoms and perform a physical exam, obtain x-rays or more advanced imaging if indicated, and offer other treatments like medications, physical therapy, or injections that may help alleviate symptoms.”

Dr. Mascarinas said persistent back pain after a minor accident can be an issue. "Persistent back pain following a seemingly minor incident could be a sign of a lumbar fracture, and an x-ray or MRI would be helpful to confirm diagnosis. Especially for those with a history of osteopenia or osteoporosis whose bones are more fragile, minor trauma can cause lumbar fractures."

Dr. Khormaee explained signs of a rare condition, "If you have tingling or numbness in the groin area and lose the ability to go to the bathroom normally, this can be a sign of what is called cauda equina syndrome. This condition occurs when there is compression on the nerves at the base of the spinal column.”

Dr. Khormaee said agility changes in fingers and hands may be a sign to see a spine specialist. She explained, "The vertebrae in your upper back and neck connect your spinal column to your arms, hands and fingers. Changes in the area can affect your ability to carry out tasks that require the use of your hands. "People may notice that they have problems with buttons or zippers. Another thing that I sometimes hear from patients is that their handwriting has changed. Similar to the concerns seen in the lower spine, these symptoms can be caused by a number of different types of spinal problems. A spinal specialist can perform a physical exam and may offer scans such as X-rays, MRIs or CTs to determine the source of the problem."

Read the full article at Eatthis.com.