Getting the Best Spinal Cancer Treatment

Usually, when your doctor first informs you that you have cancer, many emotions begin to arise. You are scared and anxious, not knowing exactly how you will begin to treat the diagnosis or if the prognosis is a good one or a bad one. Cancer of the bones is usually some of the toughest cancers to treat because you have so many bones in your body. The cancer has the option to spread literally everywhere inside of your body. When cancer enters into your cervical vertebrae, there is an escalated level of danger.

Types of Spinal Cancer
There are only two types of cervical vertebrae cancers – osteosarcoma and metastatic tumors. These two cancers can wreak havoc on your spinal area. Osteosarcomas are the least common of these two types of spinal cancers. This type of cancer is also the less dangerous of the two as well. When a person is diagnosed with osteosarcoma, they will have little tumors that grow very slowly. These tumors may not cause the individual any pain at all.

However, Metastatic tumors are another story. These tumors spread very rapidly throughout the body and usually cause a large amount of pain. Metastatic tumors are really hard to treat, making them so much more dangerous than osteosarcoma tumors. Both of these types of tumors begin during cell reproduction when the process of mitosis fails to correctly transform. The errors in the transformation process do not get properly, causing the cancer to begin to form on accident.

Symptoms of Spinal Cancer
Depending on which type of spinal cancer that you have, especially if the cancer is osteosarcoma, you may not know that you have the cancer until you are at a doctor’s visit. However, with metastatic tumors, your first symptom that something might be wrong would be experiencing pain. The pain will most likely be coming from the tumors attendance in the spinal column area. Usually, when this happens, the tumor will be pushing on nerve endings that might be sensitive, which would cause jolts of sharp like pains in your spine. When your spine is out of alignment, other symptoms become noticeable too, like the presence of a hump on your back (which some people refer to as hunchback).

When the tumor begins to press further on the spinal cord, there may be some moments where you begin to feel a tingly sensation in your legs, or possibly even lose all feeling in your legs completely. When this happens, you may experience times of clumsiness because you have lost the feeling in your legs and you cannot feel them. As the cancer begins to get worse and worse, you will eventually not be able to move your legs at all, which would then result in the individual being paralyzed for the rest of their lives. Other symptoms of spinal cancer to look for are muscle weakness, not walking normally, loss of sensation, trouble using the restroom (bowels and bladder), and spinal deformities.

Treatments of Spinal Cancer

Chemotherapy
There are several different types of treatment options for spinal cancer. The number one treatment option is usually chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs can be given to the patient in the form of a pill or they can be injected into the vein. There are some spinal tumors, depending on how severe they are, the drugs may have to be directly injected into the cerebrospinal fluid. With chemotherapy, you can receive the therapy alone or in combination with another spinal cancer treatment or even with surgery as well.

Radiation Therapy
Sometimes after completing a removal surgery, your doctor may still recommend radiation therapy. Radiation is commonly used when the tumor is aggressive and the doctor wants to be sure that there are no traces of microscopic tumor cells left behind from the removal surgery. Radiation can be used on metastatic tumors to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body, which they are so famously known for doing. Your radiation will be determined by several different factors of your tumor. Depending on the type of tumor that you have, the size of the tumor, and just how aggressive the tumor is will affect how your doctor recommends radiation. Usually, external radiation is used for spinal cancer. During the treatment, the entire area, including the tumor and the area that surrounds the tumor will be radiated. If the tumor in question is an aggressive metastatic tumor, radiation is usually given to the entire spine to prevent any more likelihood for spreading to other parts of the body.

Surgery
Surgery is definitely an option for patients with spinal cancer. Many times when doing surgery on the spinal areas, many surgeons will use the same surgical strategies for brain tumors on the spinal tumors, just because they are so closely related. The spinal surgery will depend on several different factors to determine if this is a safe treatment route. For example, the location and grade of the tumor are definitely taken into consideration because if either of those is deemed too dangerous, the surgeon will not try to complete the surgery. If the tumor is only near one part of the spinal column area, the surgery will usually be completed and most of the time, the cancer is completely gone. Spinal cancer surgery is performed as well to remove any cancerous tissues pressing against the spinal cord area and nerves to stop any unwanted pain from happening.

If left untreated, there are several things that spinal cancer can do to your body. Not only can the cancer spread to the rest of your body, but in your spinal region, the tumor can cause compression fractures. Compression fractures happen when there is too much pressure on the bone and it literally causes the bone to break. When this happens, the bone is either shattered or crushed and it is extremely painful. At Miami Neck Specialists, we also treat compression fractures as well.

A Pain in the Neck

Every human has a neck, and nearly every human uses that neck. It helps people move their heads to stretch, to see, or to get comfortable. When injured, the neck can become quite a nuisance. It can cause discomfort and pain, or even more serious problems. When such a problem occurs, people should seek help from a doctor before more damage from setting in.

Cervical Disc Herniation
Cervical herniated discs are slipped discs that occur in the neck. People from age 30 to age 50 are more likely to suffer from a disc herniation than other people. The pain from a herniated disc comes from the disc pinching down on a nerve. The pain may also radiate down a person’s arm if the injury is in the neck. There could also be tingling and numbness along the arm.

Although cervical discs are small, they can cause a lot of pain because of the concentration of nerves in the neck. A spinal disc has a hard-outer piece and a soft inner part. Sometimes the annulus, the outer part, weakens and tears. When this happens, the nucleus, the inner part, leaks out. The nucleus is what pinches nerves and causes pain.

A herniated disc may be caused by neck trauma. The trauma could come from a hit to the neck or a fall. Symptoms may begin spontaneously and without warning. The only way to know if the issue is a herniated disc is to seek attention from a physician. In Miami, the neck and back specialists are physicians that use intelligence and care to handle disc herniation.
Cervical Compression Fractures
Another issue that could plague the neck is compression fractures. Compression fractures are not as common as some other neck issues, such as a herniated disc. People with osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes bone loss. People with type II osteoporosis are more likely to have a compression fracture because type II causes more loss in spongy bone, which makes up vertebrae.

Neck compression fractures occur when the bone collapses in one of the cervical vertebrae. There may be no symptoms associated with a compression fracture, but it is common for one to cause pain in the region where the fracture is found. Compression fractures have been known to occur in multiple vertebrae at once, causing a shorter height and kyphosis, which happens when the spine curves forward and forms a hump.

Treatment for a neck compression fracture should address pain and the fracture. Pain can be handled with pain medication or something like bed rest. The fracture is often treated non-surgically, but there are times when surgery is the best option. The Miami neck specialists are doctors that have plenty of experience in treating compression fractures caused by many different things.

Spinal Cancer
Cancer is a word patients across the world respond to with fear and uncertainty. When it comes to bones, some of the most aggressive cancers begin within the bones. When in the cervical vertebrae, cancer can be even more dangerous. There are two possible vertebral types: osteosarcoma and metastatic tumors.

Osteosarcomas are the least common of these two and also the least dangerous. They grow slowly, may not cause pain, and do not pose a large danger. Metastatic tumors spread through the body and may cause a lot of pain. These are much more dangerous tumors to deal with. Both types begin when processes in mitosis fail to function correctly. Errors get transferred to the new cell, and this can cause metastatic cancer or osteosarcoma to form.

An osteosarcoma may require treatment; although, a metastatic tumor will definitely need treatment. Treatments might be in the form of radiation or chemotherapy. There are also surgical options that may be needed to slow down or get rid of the tumor. In Miami, the neck specialists are skilled in finding and working with other doctors to treat spinal cancers.

Spinal Stenosis
Cervical spinal stenosis is often shortened to cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows. The narrowing can happen from degenerative changes or repetitive trauma to the cervical vertebrae. When the damage becomes too extensive, it can begin to damage the spinal cord and cause neurological deficits. This condition is called myelopathy. Both of these neck issues are more likely to occur as age increases.

Cervical stenosis can cause many symptoms to appear. Pain and numbness may be present in the area where the stenosis is occurring and/or in the limbs associated with the area where stenosis is happening. The movement may be restricted in that region of the neck as well. When the symptoms of the stenosis, issues with just the neck, and the symptoms of myelopathy, more widespread problems, occur together, the problem is called cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

Pain medication may be prescribed if there is too much pain. A change in activity may be necessary for some people. Activities may include the position of the neck and sleep position. Physical therapy can also help relieve symptoms by making the neck stronger and more flexible. The neck physicians in Miami are experienced in treating and recommending action to combat spinal stenosis.

Red Flags of Neck Pain

Neck pain is very common. Most of the time, neck pain is muscular and gets better on its own; but sometimes it does not. As a spine surgeon, I will always be on the aggressive side with regards to diagnostic modalities. I believe that in 2018, we have an opportunity to know instead of just think. With the use of advanced imaging and other diagnostic tools, one can be certain that neck pain is not a sign of something scary. Something scary is rare but when it happens, it needs to be addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Some things to look out for include:
Recent Unwanted Weight Loss: I always ask this question of my patients and 99% of the times, the answer is laughingly, “I wish”; but if you are not trying to lose weight and you find that your pants are becoming loose or that your face is changing in the mirror, I would seek medical advice.

Nighttime Pain:
Nighttime pain is generally a sign of inflammation, but so can cancer. I would perform advanced imaging on any patient who complains of nighttime pain.

Fevers and Chills:
This is a common sign of infection and when it occurs in conjunction with neck pain, I would have it further evaluated.

Incontinence is a very common finding and it is important to note that at most times, incontinence is not associated with spinal pathology. However, when incontinence is associated with groin numbness or when incontinence occurs suddenly in association with neck pain, that is a big red flag that should be evaluated right away.

Red flags in association with neck pain are rare but when they are there they should not be ignored. This includes again, recent unwanted weight loss, fevers and chills, incontinence and nighttime pain.

Georgiy Brusovanik, M.D.
GB/st

What You need to Know About Herniated Cervical Discs

Movements in all parts of the spine, including the seven bones that make up the neck, are cushioned by spongy discs. When gel-like inner disc material pushes outward through the tough outer shell of a disc in the neck, it’s referred to as a herniated cervical disc. If a nearby nerve root is compressed, it could produce pain that’s felt in the neck, arms, shoulders, and even as far down as the wrist and fingers. Most people dealing with disc herniation in Miami respond well to conservative (non-surgical) treatments, although there are minimally invasive surgical options worth considering if symptoms persist.

What Exactly Is a Herniated Cervical Disc? 
A disc in the neck becomes “herniated” when a weak spot develops in the tough disc wall, called the annulus. Material in the center of the disc (nucleus) sometimes breaks through that weak spot. When it does, the gel-like material may irritate nerves. As nerves become irritated, they get inflamed, or swollen.

In some cases, the protruding disc material will shift or shrink. If this occurs, related discomfort may become less noticeable, or go away entirely. If a disc is going to self-correct itself over time, this process usually happens within a month or so after symptoms first become noticeable.

Some people use the terms “bulging disc” or “slipped disc” to refer to a herniated disc. However, a true herniated disc is what happens when inner disc material pushes through a crack in the outer disc wall. Oftentimes, the inner disc material will remain attached to the disc. If enough disc material pushes through, it may break free from the affected disc and move around within the cervical spine (neck) area.

What Causes Discs In the Neck to Become Damaged? 
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a frequent cause of cervical disc herniation. DDD is a general term for age-related changes to discs within the spine. A common change with discs is a loss of hydration. Spinal discs are meant to be spongy so they can provide sufficient cushioning. However, the level of hydration within discs gradually decreases over time, which means discs in the neck no longer provide as much cushioning as the neck moves.

When discs dry out, they also become harder. This makes the outer disc wall more likely to develop weak spots that could allow inner disc material to push outward. Genetics can also play a role in the setting up conditions that could make discs susceptible to damage.

Contributing factors can include, posture (especially excessive neck craning, referred to as tech neck”), smoking, and level of activity. For instance, you may be more likely to develop cervical disc herniation if you play contact sports on a regular basis or have a job that involves frequent neck movements.

What Are Symptoms Associated with a Herniated Disc?
Symptoms associated with a cervical herniated disc will vary based on the specific area of the neck affected. A herniated disc at the C4-C5 level, for example, can affect the deltoid muscle in the upper arm and cause shoulder pain. A C5-C6 disc herniation, on the other hand, tends to cause radiating discomfort that’s felt along the thumb side of the hand. Symptoms may also include:

• Muscle spasms in the neck area
• A weakened hand grip
• Pain that’s triggered by certain neck movement
• General weakness in the neck and shoulder area
• “Pins-and-needles” sensations in arms

How Are Cervical Herniated Discs Diagnosed and Treated? 
The first attempt at diagnosis is usually a medical exam and a review of medical history, If initial treatment isn’t effective or severe disc damage is suspected, you’ll likely be referred to a neck specialist for further evaluation. Diagnostic testing to determine if a disc in the neck is damaged may involve:

• A CT or MRI scan to view soft tissues in the neck
• A CT scan with the injection of myelogram dye to identify subtle instances of nerve irritation
• An EMG (electromyography) to measure nerve and muscle responses to stimulation

Pain related to a cervical herniated disc is usually due to the pinching of a nerve root and inflammation associated with the affected disc. Unless symptoms are severe or debilitating, conservative treatments are typically recommended first. Options usually include anti-inflammation medication, rest (for a short period of time), massage therapy, various forms of physical therapy, and home exercises.

In addition to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), muscle relaxants, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and oral or injected steroid medications may help manage symptoms. Cervical traction is sometimes recommended to limit neck mobility and allow inflamed nerves and tissues to heal.

More than 90 percent of patients with arm pain related to a herniated cervical disc typically notice improvements with conservative treatments after about six weeks. Should symptoms continue beyond this point or get progressively worse, a neck specialist may suggest surgery. Many of the procedures performed today involve less invasive techniques that often present fewer risks and shorter recovery periods for patients considered good candidates for such operations. Specific surgical options include:

• Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
• Artificial disc replacement
• Minimally invasive micro-endoscopic discectomy

Practicing proper lifting techniques, maintaining a healthy weight, paying attention to posture and head-neck alignment, and regularly exercising and stretching neck muscles are among the steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing a herniated cervical disc. The good news is that only about 8 percent of herniated discs occur in the neck area. But if you are experiencing neck and arm pain in Miami that may be related to a herniated cervical disc, it’s important to seek medical care so the right treatment recommendations can be made. Contact Miami Neck Specialists to schedule an appointment.

Could your Pain be a Compression Fracture?

A compression fracture is a type of bone break caused by pressure. In this type of fracture, the bone is shattered or crushed. It typically occurs in the vertebra of the spine. It can have a variety of causes:

  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Accidents

Sometimes, compression fractures happen because of advanced age and a debilitating condition of the spine. In this case, there is no particular cause other than as a consequence of the aging process.

Symptoms 
Typical symptoms of a vertebral, or spinal, compression fracture include:

  • Severe back pain worsened by standing or walking
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Problems with bowel or urinary control
  • Some people may also have sharp muscle spasm pain in the back area

If you know you have osteoporosis or osteopenia and experience these symptoms, suspect a compression fracture and seek immediate medical treatment.

Cervical Compression Fracture 
This type of fracture occurs in the cervical, or neck, the area of the spinal vertebra, as well as the lower back vertebra. However, because the neck vertebra bears less weight than the vertebra below it, it’s less prone to this condition. That doesn’t mean that a cervical compression fracture can’t happen; it can. When it does, the most common symptom is the pain in the neck area. This can be from the bone itself, although many compression fractures are not painful, or it can be from the bone impinging on the spinal cord. Cervical spinal stenosis, where there is a narrowing of the spinal space, can also be caused by cervical compression fractures. Typical symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Walking may be painful, too. If you have neck pain or other related symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment right away. There is no need to suffer from compression fractures or spinal stenosis. If you live in or near the Miami area, you can visit this site for more information:

Your text to link… When you contact them, a professional staff member will respond within 24 hours. Same-day appointments are available.

Diagnosis 
Confirmation of a compression fracture is done through MRI imaging, X-ray and/or CT scans. There may also be a bone scan.

Treatment 
Milder fractures may respond to conservative treatment. This would include rest, a neck collar or back brace and medications:

Acetaminophen
This is the generic name for Tylenol. It’s a pain reliever, but it has no anti-inflammatory effects. It’s also toxic to the liver when taken in high doses. It doesn’t require a prescription. Be sure to closely follow dosing directions. Never exceed 1000mg per dose or 4000mg within 24 hours. Doses should not be repeated more often than every four hours. Acetaminophen overdose is a leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Be careful with this drug.

Biphosphonates and calcitonin
Both of these drugs work by strengthening bone.

Opioids
These are narcotic preparations. They work by altering the brain’s perception of pain. All require a prescription and all carry a certain risk of addiction. All have side effects. However, when used for limited periods of time under proper medical supervision, they are generally safe. Always try non-narcotics first. If they fail, let your doctor know that you’re not getting enough pain relief.

Other treatments include physical therapy and in some cases, surgery. Here at Miami Back and Neck Specialists, we believe in the minimal approach. We first seek an accurate diagnosis. Then we try conservative treatments. They very often achieve satisfactory results. For neck and back pain in the Miami area, you can go here to learn more about expert diagnosis and treatment of your condition: Your text to link…

Surgery 
Surgery is a last resort method of treatment and is usually performed only when less invasive methods have failed. There are three basic types. One is kyphoplasty. This uses a small balloon to create a space between the crushed vertebral bones. Another is vertebroplasty. This procedure uses a special bone cement to repair the damage. The third option is a minimally invasive posterior fusion surgery, where pins, wires, and screws are used to hold the damaged vertebra in the proper position.

Contact Us 
If you live in the Miami area, and you suspect you may have a compression fracture, we can help. Just contact us through our website. Your text to link… We will respond quickly and professionally to your request. We may well have a simple solution for your pain. There is no need to just live with it. We warmly welcome new patients, and we look forward to your call.

Neck and Back Pain – Causes and Treatments

Miami back and neck specialists are a team of doctors and staff that specialize in assisting with neck and back pain. Our staff believes that everything starts with a proper diagnosis. By knowing the causes of your neck and back pain, the treatment plan can be designed specifically to your needs and focus on non-invasive approaches first.

A leading cause of neck pain and back pain is a strain or sprain from a fall or sports-related injury, sometimes coupled with age-related overuse and worn out joints. Neck pain and back pain may also originate from nerve compression caused by stenosis and/or disc herniation. Neck and back pain can be felt in more than just your neck and back, you might have pain that radiates down your arms and legs which may become worse with movement. It can be a dull ache or a stabbing, burning pain. While many hope that medication will be a quick fix for neck and back pain, typically, this type of pain is managed with conservative treatment such as physical therapy and rest.

If your pain radiates to your arms, hands, legs or feet, it could be something more serious, and require professional intervention. If you live in the Miami area, the staff at Miami Back and Neck Specialists are here to assist you. In our several years of experience in dealing with neck and back pain, we have observed that most cases can be treated without surgery.

Whether it is rest, medication, physical therapy, injection or the last option, surgery, we can develop the best plan for you.

Neck Pain Treatment in Miami

Miami Neck Specialists treat neck and arm pain in Miami. Neck pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including cervical dystonia, cervical spondylosis, fibromyalgia, disc herniation, or osteoarthritis. Sometimes the cause has to do with lifestyle habits, such as carrying a heavy bag on a shoulder, cradling the phone between the shoulder and neck, emotional stress, muscle strain, or poor posture. Emotional distress often causes tension in the neck and shoulders and can lead to neck pain. Sleeping on one’s stomach can also cause neck pain. Traumas from accidents, including whiplash, can cause pain to occur in the neck as well.

The Miami Neck Specialists will begin by diagnosing the condition is causing the neck pain through an MRI, and then outline a treatment plan. The specialists prefer to use targeted pain management and non-surgical techniques to treat the pain of their clients. They have found that most cases of neck pain are caused by neck strain, which can be treated without surgery. Sometimes rest is all that is needed to relieve the pain. These specialists are skilled in minimally-invasive surgical procedures and will use them in serious cases requiring surgery. If you are experiencing neck and back pain in Miami, call the Miami Neck Specialists today to start your treatment plan.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion {ACDF) is a type of minimally invasive neck surgery, designed to treat nerve root and spinal cord compression. The surgeon performs a discectomy to the cervical spine in order to remove a herniated or degenerative disc and decompress the nerve roots and spinal cord to stabilize the vertebrae. Through this procedure, pressure on the area is relieved, and the corresponding pain and numbness is alleviated.

ACDF surgery uses specific instruments in order to avoid cutting into the soft tissues, and therefore causes less pain than traditional methods of surgery. The minimally invasive procedures used in this type of surgery are safer, quicker, and allow for a faster recovery time. In fact, most of these surgeries are performed in an outpatient setting, and patients are able to return home the same day of the surgery.

With ACDF, the incision is much smaller, so there is less blood loss and less pain that occurs. Because of this, the need for post-op pain medication is reduced.

Who Needs ACDF Surgery?
This minimally invasive procedure may be an option for patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy, a herniated or degenerative disk in the neck, cervical spinal, stenosis, and cervical spinal fracture.

Miami Neck Specialists can perform this surgery on patients suffering from disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and other spine and neck problems in Miami. Call for a consultation to find out if ACDF surgery is right for you. For those patients who do not have significant degenerative changes, disk replacement is another option and can provide the same great relief without the loss of motion.