Orthopedic Surgery

Spinal Tumor Symptoms & Treatment

Spinal TumorsTumors, whether cancerous (malignant tumors) or noncancerous (benign tumors), can develop and affect bones anywhere in the body, but when a tumor develops in or near your spinal cord or within the bones of your spine, it can be an especially serious condition.

Your spine is an extremely important part of your body as it holds up your head, shoulders and upper body. It also houses and protects your spinal cord and the nerve roots that control your arms, legs, and torso. The spine is made up of 31 small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another and make up the three sections of your spine (cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine) forming the natural curves of your back.

Your spinal cord runs through the middle part of the vertebra, which is called the spinal canal, and extends from the skull to the lower back. Spinal nerves branch out from the spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae, carrying signals between the brain and muscles.

The most common type of spinal tumor is one that spreads (a metastasis) from cancer arising in another part of the body, such as the breast, lung, kidney, prostate, thyroid, blood cells, or other tissues. Rarely, spinal tumors arise from the nerves of the spinal cord itself. Primary spinal tumors are those that arise from the bones in the spine – these are also relatively rare.

The closeness of a tumor to the spine and nerves that run through and between your vertebrae determines the severity of the condition. Tumors can compress and interfere with nerve function, affecting the messages being sent to and from your brain to the rest of your body. Since the spinal cord is relatively narrow, tumors within it may cause symptoms on both sides of the body. Tumors can also weaken the vertebrae, causing the spine to collapse and potentially cause pain or injure the nerves housed within.

Spinal tumors are different for each unique patient since they originate from different areas or develop from different cell types. Depending on where the tumor is, how advanced it is, how quickly it is growing and whether it is malignant or benign, symptoms and treatment options vary.

Common symptoms of spinal tumors include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of sensation or numbness (in the legs, arms or trunk)
  • Loss of bladder/ bowel control
  • Difficulty using arms or legs, inability to walk

Treatment for spinal tumors is determined on a case by case basis and may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other medications. If surgery is necessary, the goals are to stabilize the spinal column, relieve nerve pressure caused by the tumor, protect the nerves and spinal cord and remove as much of the tumor as safely possible.

For more information about spinal tumors and spine tumor treatment, visit Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Our world renowned, highly skilled, specialized and experienced team includes orthopedic spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopedic oncologists and radiologists, all working together to diagnose and treat a wide range of spinal tumors.

About Dr. Rhee

John Rhee, MDJohn M. Rhee, MD, is a Spinal Surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery specializing in cervical spine surgery, lumbar spine surgery, complex spinal deformity surgery (scoliosis and kyphosis) and surgery for spinal tumors. Dr. Rhee is an active researcher and sought-after teacher/lecturer at the national and international level in multiple medical societies. He has served as faculty and been an invited lecturer at numerous meetings and courses on spine surgery. In addition, he has served as Program Chairman at numerous national and international spine surgery meetings. Dr. Rhee has also published extensively in a number of peer reviewed journals and books, and he has received numerous awards and honors. He is actively involved the training of international research scholars and other spinal surgeons and has been the author and editor of major textbooks on spine surgery techniques.

Related Resources

Patient Video Story: Back to Life after Spinal Tumor Surgery

How to Train and Prepare for Summer Running Races – Join Us for a Live Online Chat!

Running Training Live ChatWhether you are a seasoned marathon runner or recreational jogger, it is important to train properly and know how to prevent injury.

If you are interested in learning more about preventing and treating sports and running injuries, join Emory Sports Medicine physician Amadeus Mason, MD, for an online web chat on Tuesday, June 9 at noon. Dr. Mason will be available to answer your questions such as:

  • Injury prevention
  • Stretching
  • Race-day tips
  • Symptoms of certain athletic injuries
  • Risk factors for athletic/running injuries
  • Treatment for specific sports injuries
  • When to visit your sports medicine physician

To register for the live chat, visit emoryhealthcare.org/mdchats! If you already have questions for Dr. Mason, go ahead and submit in advance so our team can answer during the chat!

Sign Up for the Chat

From surgical sports medicine expertise to innovative therapies and athletic injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine specialists provide the most comprehensive treatment for a range of athletic-related injuries. Visit our website to learn more about the Emory Sports Medicine Center.

Injury Insight: Manny Pacquiao’s Shoulder Injury

This past weekend’s boxing match between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao may have been the most-watched pay-per-view event of all time, but all eyes are now focused on Pacquiao’s reported shoulder injury. Battling through the twelve-round fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao suffered further injury to his already ailing shoulder. Reports released this week confirm the athlete will need shoulder surgery to repair a “significant tear” in his rotator cuff.

Emory Sports Medicine’s Dr. Jeff Webb stopped by CNN to shed some light about Pacquiao’s injury, possible treatment options and recovery time:

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons that wrap around the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, attaching the upper arm to the shoulder socket. These tendons allow you to move and rotate your arm in wide range of motion. When the rotator cuff tendons are damaged or torn, the shoulder may become unstable and cause pain.

What causes rotator cuff tears?

A tear in the rotator cuff is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Most tears occur as a result of wearing down, or fraying, of the tendons over time. Overuse of the muscles, especially in a person’s dominant arm, increases the risk of tearing. Lack of blood supply and bone spurs due to age are other causes. Shoulder injuries, such as broken collarbone or a dislocated shoulder, can also cause a rotator cuff tear.

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tear?

  • Patients with a rotator cuff tear usually experience a dull ache in their upper arm and shoulder. Other common symptoms include:
  • Pain or discomfort when lifting and lowering your arm
  • Weakness with rotating your arm
  • Pain extending down to the elbow (but usually not further)
  • Neck pain on the side of the affected shoulder; Low dull headaches
  • With sudden tears, patients may hear a cracking noise and experience intense pain and immediate weakness in the upper arm

How serious is Pacquiao’s injury?

It’s hard to definitely comment without evaluating him in person, but reports of a “significant tear” can mean one of a few types of rotator cuff injuries, including:

  • Tendonitis: a condition in which the tendon is inflamed, irritated and/or swollen. Tendonitis is common in athletes and can occur as the result of tendon overuse, injury, or because of age.
  • Complete tear: when the tendon splits into two pieces, sometimes separating off from the upper arm bone.
  • Partial tear: when there’s damage to the tendon, or tissue, but it is not completely split.

In Manny Pacquiao’s case, the tear is extensive enough that surgery has been recommended. The goal of surgery is to treat his pain and restore the function of shoulder, preventing further damage to those tendons. While some patients can return to regular activities after six months, but in the case of professional athletes, especially boxers, we can expect the recovery time to be around nine to twelve months to allow for ample healing.

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Jeffrey Webb, MDJeff Webb, MD, sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. During his training and practice he has provided medical coverage for division I college football and other sports, multiple high schools, ballet, the Rockettes, marathons, international track and field events, and the Special Olympics. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College and many other club sports teams.

He is active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Related Resources

At Emory Sports Medicine Center, our shoulder experts specialize in advanced shoulder procedures, including Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair, to treat and repair a wide range of shoulder injuries. Click to learn more about torn rotator cuff injury >>

“I’m a Medical Miracle!” : One Emory Spine Center Patient’s Experience

Andy ReynoldsBy Andy Reynolds, Emory Spine Center Patient 

In midsummer of 2010, my riding lawn mower flipped over and pinned me underneath. My back was broken in three parts. I had surgery to fuse and implant rods and screws. My pain never went away, so later I had the rods and screws removed in hopes of pain relief.

My pain worsened and more issues developed within the next four years. My nerves were damaged which lead to horrific pain, migraines, insomnia, and I developed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. I could hardly make it through a day at work, I wore a brace and had seen about 16 different doctors before I was referred to a spine specialist. That spine specialist was my medical miracle doctor, Emory neurosurgeon, Dr. Gerald Rodts.

Dr. Rodts showed me a CT scan image of my spine and surprisingly revealed that my fracture was never repaired, and therefore, never properly healed. Dr. Rodts was in disbelief that I was not paralyzed since my back was still broken.

I had spine surgery November 24, 2014 at Emory University Hospital Midtown. During my surgery, Dr. Rodts worked his magic and reconstructed the damaged area of my spine so my nerves were no longer pinched.

Today, I don’t have a single issue left from my incident and my life has changed drastically. I went from enduring a multitude of health issues, including horrific pain, to being completely healthy and happy. Since my spine surgery, I can stand longer now, travel and go in the pool. I am able to participate in activities I enjoy like outdoor planting and am looking forward to yard work and even getting back on my lawn mower come Spring. I also cannot wait to get back to lifting weights at the gym.

When I look back at photos of me, I can see how bad of a shape I was in by the pained look on my face. My medical miracle would not have happened if it hadn’t been for Dr. Rodts and the spine team at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Everyone was wonderful; it was like a five star experience.

A note from Dr. Gerald Rodts, Jr.

Andy had originally suffered a severe fracture of the lumbar vertebra, at a crucial transition area between his lower thoracic spine and upper lumbar spine. Despite having had surgery to stabilize the fracture, it ultimately never healed. It became a source of chronic, severe back pain. In order to fix the problem, the surgery required a different approach.

The surgery was done with cardiothoracic surgeon, Allen Pickens, MD. With the help of Dr. Pickens, an incision was made on the chest wall (flank) on the left side. A rib was removed, and the large diaphragm muscle disconnected from the spine. The fracture pieces of vertebra were removed, and the spine was rebuilt with a titanium fusion cage, rib bone graft, and two screws and a rod. The diaphragm muscle was reconnected, and the chest wall closed. This procedure renders the spine immediately strong and stable, and the area of the fracture then continues to strengthen as the bone graft heals.

To learn more about the wide range of spine conditions treated at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta, click here or call 404-778-3350.

About Dr. Rodts

Gerald Rodts, MDGerald E. Rodts, Jr., MD,  is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. In addition, he is the Director of the Spine Fellowship Program in the Department of Neurosurgery at The Emory Spine Center and Chief of Neurosurgery Spine Service at The Emory Clinic.

Dr. Rodts graduated from Princeton University with a degree in biology and a Certificate of Study of Science in Human Affairs. He received his M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and completed his neurosurgery residency training at the University of California in Los Angeles, followed by a 1-year fellowship in complex spinal neurosurgery at Emory University. Dr. Rodts has served as the President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons as well as serving as the Secretary. He has also served as the Chairman of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves. He is also a founding editor of the award-winning website, Spine Universe. He has been selected as one of the Castle and Connelley’s “Top Doc” neurosurgeons in the United States ten years in a row and has received a similar distinction in Atlanta Magazine annually. He is a neurotrauma consultant to the National Football League.

Dr. Rodts manages patients with spinal disorders, and specializes in neoplastic, rheumatoid, degenerative, traumatic spinal disorders, syringomyelia and Chiari malformations. His research interests are in computer-assisted, image-guided surgery and minimally-invasive spinal techniques.

Areas of Clinical Interest:

  • Complex spine surgery and reconstruction
  • Computer-assisted image-guided spine surgery
  • Minimally-invasive spine surgery
  • Revision spinal surgery

Emory Spine Center Patient: “Dr. Ananthakrishnan is a miracle worker.”

By Renee Godley, patient at Emory Orthopaedic, Sports & Spine Center

Emory Orthopedics PatientIn 1969, I had scoliosis surgery. During this surgery, my spine was fused and a Harington Rod was attached to the muscles in my spine. After the surgery, I was bedridden for six months and in a body casts for a total of nine months. I recovered well and learned how to live with my limitations.

In 1990, I started to suffer from lower back pain. I visited Emory Orthopaedic, Sports & Spine Center, in Atlanta, Georgia and I was informed that I needed to have additional surgery. The wear and tear on my lower three discs had progressed to the point that I would need to have them replaced and fused within 10 years. I said no immediately because I knew the process, I had a three year old daughter at home and I would again, be bedridden for three months and in a body cast that extended down to my right knee. I was unwilling to go through the process a second time. Fear lead me to that decision.

From 2007 until 2012 I saw a pain management orthopedist, which helped me to numb the pain. Then I was advised to see Emory Orthopaedic, Sports & Spine physician, Dheera Ananthakrishnan, MD. Fear once again took hold of me. I had done research and quickly realized I was suffering from Flat Back Syndrome. I read information about the surgeries (two, for a total of at least 12 hours), and started to panic. I finally reached the point where the pain was too much and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I did not want to have surgery and I did not know what to do.

My life had become very restrictive. I could no longer go out to eat or even sit on the living room couch for an extended period of time, rather I had to lie down to lessen the pressure on my spine. I loved attending Georgia football games and could no longer attend any games, the car ride, walk to the stadium and sitting in the stands were beyond my capabilities. I just could not go anymore. My husband wanted to go to the movies, and you guessed it, I could not; I couldn’t do anything.

After much fear, unbearable pain and many days and nights spent crying, my life would soon change. I was referred to Emory Spine Center to see Dr. Ananthakrishnan (Doctor A). Doctor A examined me and ran numerous tests and the diagnosis was, as predicted, Flat Back Syndrome. Although I did not want to have the surgeries, I had no choice. I was scheduled for surgery in December of 2012. For thirty days I was taken off my medications (anti-inflammatories) and realized just how disabled I had become. I was immobile, I couldn’t walk, much less do anything.

On, December 7, 2012, I had surgery at Emory University Orthopedics & Spine Hospital with Dr. Ananthakrishnan that included three replacement discs. A second surgery was held on December 11, 2012 where two rods and 16 one inch titanium screws were placed in my back.

Thanks to Dr. Ananthakrishnan, for the first time in 30 years, I had no pain in my back! This is the best feeling that I’ve felt since I met my husband and got married. Dr. A is a miracle worker. In the two years since my surgery I have begun to walk for exercise, averaging approximately five miles of exercise per day. I went from not walking at all to averaging over 70,000 steps per week.

Everyone I see can’t believe how good I look. I stand straight. I am no longer hunched over. When someone tells me they are experiencing back pain, the first thing I ask them is, “Have you gone to Emory yet?” I would not have the quality of life I have today without Dr. Ananthakrishnan.

A note from Dr. Dheera Ananthakrishnan

I vividly remember the first day that I met Mrs. Godley. She was still so traumatized from her scoliosis surgery all those years ago! I was very worried that she would have difficulty coping with such a large revision surgery. Was I ever wrong! She sailed through two really large surgeries, and has been a textbook patient, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.

One of the great joys of performing surgery is to see how life-altering it can be for patients who have lived with disability and pain for a long time. Mrs. Godley embodies this for me. It has been my great pleasure to know her and care for her. Now the only tears that are shed during our visits are tears of joy.

About Dr. Ananthakrishnan

Dheera Ananthakrishnan, MDDheera Ananthakrishnan, MD, trained with one of the pioneers of scoliosis surgery, Dr. David Bradford, at the University of California at San Francisco. After completion of her fellowship, Dr. Ananthakrishnan practiced orthopedic and spine surgery for over three years at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2007, she left Seattle to work with Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She then worked as a volunteer consultant at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, before starting her position at Emory University. She maintains an interest in developing-world orthopedics through her non-profit, Orthopaedic Link, and is currently involved in projects in the Philippines, Nepal, and Bulgaria.

Dr. Ananthakrishnan’s practice focuses on adult scoliosis and degenerative conditions. She also treats adolescent spinal disorders as well as tumors and cervical conditions. She has been at the Emory Orthopaedic and Spine Center since 2007.

Successful Grand Opening for Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody

Photo from grand opening event at Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine’s new Dunwoody location. A big thanks to Dunwoody Mayor, Mike Davis, Blessed Trinity High School, Emory at Dunwoody Family Practice, Jerry’s Famous Catering, St. Pius X Catholic High School, William J. Mulcahy, Synergy Sports Wellness Institute and all the wonderful people that shared the day with us. We are grateful.

On January 28, 2015, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine successfully hosted a grand opening event to officially open its doors to their new Dunwoody location.

The opening reception was an opportunity for local businesses and members of the Dunwoody community to tour the facility and meet with Emory physicians, including the newest physician, Lee Kneer, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Kneer specializes in non-surgical treatments, ultrasound, rehabilitation and sport medicine.

In an effort to meet the increasing demands for orthopaedic care, Emory Orthopaedics continues to expand its services for the convenience of patient access across Metro Atlanta. The Dunwoody clinic offers a full range of treatments for orthopaedic conditions and injuries including sports medicine, hand and upper extremities, foot and ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee and hip, spinal care, and concussions. It also offers X-ray, physical therapy and an ambulatory surgery center.

“The needs of our patients always come first,” says Scott Boden, MD, director of the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center. “We are excited to offer top-notch physicians and convenient locations for high-level, specialized care that address the unique needs of our orthopaedic and spine patients.”

Emory Orthopaedics & Spine has locations in Atlanta, Duluth, Johns Creek, Tucker and now Dunwoody. All Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine physicians bring extensive training and experience.

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody is located at 4555 North Shallowford Road, Atlanta, GA 30338.

For more information on all Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine clinic, please call 404-778-3350. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours at 404-778-3350.

Knee Arthroscopy and Knee Arthroscopy Recovery

knee surgeryKnee arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera (arthroscope) to look inside your knee. Small cuts are made to insert the camera and small surgical tools into your knee for the procedure.

Your surgeon can use arthroscopy to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue. To do this, small surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions around your knee.

Preparation for Knee Arthroscopy:

Usually no significant pre operative testing is needed. Depending on your heath, your orthopaedic surgeon may order pre-operative tests. These may include blood counts, an EKG (electrocardiogram), and even a complete physical examination to assess your health and identify any problems that could interfere with your surgery.

Surgery for Knee Arthroscopy:

During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope (a small camera instrument about the size of a pencil) into your knee joint through a small incision in the knee. A sterile solution will be used to fill the knee joint and rinse away any cloudy fluid. This helps your surgeon see your knee clearly so that he may diagnose the problem and determine what treatment is needed.

Arthroscopy for the knee is most commonly used for:

  • Removal or repair of torn meniscal or articular cartilage
  • Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue

After your procedure has concluded, a doctor will remove the instruments and close the incisions with a stitch.

Recovery from Knee Arthroscopy

Recovery from knee arthroscopy is much faster than traditional open knee surgery. You may have some slight swelling in the knee after surgery. Keep your leg elevated as much as possible for the first few days following surgery and ice your knee following the instructions given by your doctor. You may or may not be placed on crutches. Your surgeon will make that decision and discuss with you. Your surgeon will most likely prescribe physical therapy for 6-12 weeks, as well.

About Dr. John Xerogeanes

John Xerogeanes MD

John W. Xerogeanes, MD, Chief of Sports Medicine at Emory University, is known as Dr. “X” by his staff and patients. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgia State and Mercer University. Dr. X has been the Head Orthopaedist and Team Physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA since 2001. He specializes in ACL and ACL revision surgery performing over 200 of these operations each year. He is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and has his sub-specialty certification in orthopaedic sports medicine.

Dr. Xerogeanes has been recognized as one of US News & World Report’s Top Doctors with a special distinction listing him among the top 1% in the nation in his specialty.

Related Resources:

Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee SurgeryThe knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. Your knee can become damaged by osteoarthritis resulting from wear and tear over time, by rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or by injury/trauma to the knee. Rest, medication, and therapy are the first lines of treatment, but knee replacement surgery — also known as knee arthroplasty — can help relieve pain and restore knee function for those whose cartilage is too damaged to respond to conservative measures. Although surgery always comes with risks, knee replacement surgery continues to be one of the most predictably successful of all major operations done for any problem. It is however a major surgery and should only be considered when other nonsurgical options are not adequate.

Knee Replacement Procedure

In general, knee replacement surgery consists of replacing the diseased or damaged joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee. Knee replacement would be more accurately called knee resurfacing in that only the surface of the femur and tibia are removed and then capped by metal. The ends of the bone are precisely shaped to exactly match the shape of the artificial components. These artificial components mimic the shape of the normal bone. A highly wear resistant plastic insert is placed as the cushion between the two metal components. Usually a total knee replacement also involves capping the surface of your knee cap (patella) with polyethylene. A good result from the operation is very dependent on the accuracy of contouring of bone and placement of components.

What to Expect From Knee Surgery

Recent improvements in materials and techniques have made total knee replacement a common and highly successful surgery, with around 300,000 being performed every year in the U.S alone. The vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement in pain and range of motion. Approximately 95% of patients after recovering from knee replacement report enough improvement that they would repeat the decision to have surgery. In addition to routing life activities, such activities as walking, cycling, dancing, golf and tennis are comfortable for the majority of patients.

Knee Surgery Rehabilitation

Post-operative hospitalization averages 1 to 3 nights, depending on the health status of the patient. Most people require crutches or a walker for 1 to 3 weeks and a cane for 1 to 3 weeks after that. The average need to see a physical therapist is for 4 to 6 weeks and the time to a better knee overall than before surgery for most patients is about 4 to 6 weeks. Time to safely driving a car is typically 2 to 4 weeks and average time off work is also approximately 4 weeks.

About Dr. Roberson

James Roberson, MDJames Roberson, MD is professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at Emory. He specializes in total joint replacement of the hip and knee. Dr. Roberson completed his residency training at Emory University followed by a fellowship at Mayo Clinic. He has been practicing at Emory since 1982.

Related Resources

Total Knee Replacement
Revision of Total Knee Replacement
Unicompartmental Knee Replacement

Do You Think You Have a Ruptured Disc? Check Out These Signs and Symptoms of a Herniated or Ruptured Disc

Herniated DiscA herniated disc, also commonly referred to as a ruptured disc or slipped disc, occurs when a cartilage disc in the spine becomes damaged and moves out of place resulting in a pinched nerve. You can have a herniated or ruptured disc in any area of your spine but most often it affects the lumbar spine (lower back area). There are many causes of a herniated or ruptured disc including:

  • Degeneration due to aging
  • Wear and tear
  • Injury to the vertebrae
  • Sudden strain or sprain in lower back
  • Sports injuries or accidents

Symptoms of a herniated or ruptured Disc

Symptoms of a ruptured disc will vary from person to person but the most common symptoms of a herniated or ruptured disc include:

  • Severe pain in the back around the ruptured area
  • Muscle weakness, numbness, shooting pain or tingling in the legs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain in shoulders, arms, chest, ribs or thighs (depending on where the rupture has taken place)

Treatment for a herniated or ruptured Disc

Most often herniated discs can be treated without surgical intervention. We typically recommend starting a patient on anti-inflammatory medications, ice and heat to reduce the severity of the pain. In some cases a steroid injection may be helpful, and in others physical therapy with back exercises can be added to the treatment plan. If all other options are exhausted and radiating arm/leg pain persists after 6 – 12 weeks of treatment, surgery may be recommended.

If a herniated or ruptured disc is identified quickly, treatments are more likely to be successful. Any one with a ruptured disc should modify their activity level to avoid lifting heavy objects as well as avoid bending or any activities which worsens the radiation of arm/leg pain. Sports activities should also be reduced while healing.

Some surgery options for herniated or ruptured discs are:

At Emory, our nationally renowned spine specialists work together to diagnose and treat cervical spine and lumbar conditions. Emory physiatrists (non-operative physicians) and surgeons use innovative approaches to spine care and have extensive experience that allows us to boast high success rates. Emory is one of the largest University – based Spine Centers in the United States. Our physicians typically exhaust non-surgical options first, but if surgery is recommended, most surgeries for herniated or ruptured discs are performed at Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital in Tucker. Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital is a dedicated orthopedic and spine hospital and it leverages the pioneering vision, latest research and medical advances to provide high quality patient and family centered care.

About Scott Boden, MD

Scott Boden, MDScott D. Boden, MD, is Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Boden started practicing at Emory in 1992. During his fellowship at Case Western Reserve Hospital in Cleveland, Dr. Boden trained with one of the founding fathers of modern spine surgery, Dr. Henry Bohlman. A primary original researcher on bone growth factor development and spine fusion technology, Dr. Boden is also an internationally renowned lecturer and teacher and the driving force behind the Emory University Orthopedics & Spine Hospital (EUOSH).

Dr. Boden’s Clinical Interests:
Dr. Boden’s areas of clinical interest include surgical and nonsurgical management of adult degenerative spinal disorders including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis in the cervical and lumbar spine. He was recently named in another Becker’s list of Top 50 Spine Surgeons in the U.S. and is a skilled surgeon with techniques of microdiscectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion, and laminoplasty.

The Road to Emory: Education
• Medical School: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 1986
• Internship: George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 1987
• Residency: George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 1991
• Fellowship: Case Western Reserve University Hospital, Cleveland, OH 1992

Personal
Dr. Boden is the proud father of triplets who graduated first and tied for second in their high school class. He is also a baseball aficionado and coaches high school and travel softball teams.

Related Links

Types of Knee Replacements

Knee ReplacementThe knee is the largest and most complex joint in the human body. It is also one of the most important joints, playing an essential role in carrying the weight of the body in a given direction. It is formed by the lower part of the femur, the tibial plateau and the knee cap, and enables hinge and rotating movements as the connection between the upper and lower leg.

When the knee joint is damaged, people can experience pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. This can make it difficult to perform daily tasks like standing, climbing stairs or walking. If the knee doesn’t respond to activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications and injections, knee replacement surgery may be a viable option. Your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery if you have severe knee pain and disability from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or traumatic injury, and will make a determination based on the damage to your knee, bone strength, age, lifestyle and other medical conditions you have.

There are two types of replacement surgeries: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement, with total knee replacement surgeries comprising more than 90 percent of today’s procedures. During both surgeries an orthopedic surgeon will replace the damaged knee with an artificial device (implant). Although replacing the total knee joint is the most common procedure, some people can benefit from just a partial knee replacement.

Partial Knee Replacement
The knee is made up of three areas or compartments: medial and lateral (the sides of your knee) and patella-femoral (the knee cap). When fewer than three of these areas need to be replaced, it is called a unicompartmental or partial knee replacement.

Partial knee replacement isn’t suitable for everyone because you need to have strong, healthy ligaments within your knee. However, if only one side of your knee is affected, then partial replacement may be a possibility. Partial knee replacements can often be carried out through a smaller cut (incision) than a total knee replacement, and are typically less complicated than total knee replacements. This almost always means a quicker recovery and better function while giving the same level of pain relief as a total knee replacement.

Total Knee Replacement
Most total knee replacement surgeries resurface the bones at the top of your shin bone (tibia) and the bottom of your thigh bone (femur) with an implant made of metal and plastic parts. The end of the femur and top of the tibia are resurfaced and capped with a metal implants. There is a plastic or polyethelene spacer between the two metal components so the articulating surface is metal on plastic. A total knee replacement may also involve replacing the surface of your knee cap (patella) with polyethelene, although many surgeons prefer to leave it in its natural state because it will be less likely to fracture. When fit together, the attached artificial parts form the joint, relying on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and function.

After Knee Replacement Surgery
The average hospital stay after knee joint replacement is usually two to four days, and the vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement in pain and range of motion. Once muscle strength is restored with physical therapy, people who have had knee joint replacement surgery can enjoy most activities although running for exercise not recommended. . The duration of physical therapy can vary, but typically outpatient therapy lasts from one to two months.

About Dr. Reimer

Nickolas Reimer, MDDr. Nickolas Reimer is an assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. He specializes in the treatment of musculoskeletal tumors, total hip and total knee replacements and revision surgeries.