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Spine surgery

The spine experts at White Plains Hospital understand how painful and disruptive spinal problems can be, and we understand the convenience of delivering care closer to our patients' homes. The spinal care and surgery team of the White Plains Hospital Spine Program have the expertise to deliver innovative surgical and nonsurgical therapies for the management of the full range of spinal disease and disorders—from the simplest cases to the most complex. We use the least invasive approach needed to treat your condition and control your pain, reserving surgery as a last resort only when nonsurgical treatments are not effective.

Our spine care team includes physicians, nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants and care coordinators who collaborate to tailor a personalized plan of care. Patients are also an integral member of this team, and we work together to create a therapeutic regimen that meets each patients needs and is respectful of their preferences. From diagnostic tests to treatment and rehabilitation, we connect you with all the services you need to regain function and return to your daily activities.

Spinal disorders we treat

Spinal disorders most commonly affect the cervical spine (the first seven vertebrae) and the lumbar spine (the lower back). Disorders of the spine can cause neck and back pain and pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs. Spine specialists at White Plains Hospital treat all types of spine disorders, including:

  • Arthritis, a common degeneration of the surfaces of the vertebrae.
  • Deformity, such as sideways curvature (scoliosis) or hunching (kyphosis) of the spine.
  • Disc problems, which include bulges or herniation that can place pressure on a nerve root, resulting in pain and disability.
  • Fractures, which may be the result of trauma or progressive compression. In a compression fracture, all or part of a spine bone collapses.
  • Infections of the spine or spinal cord.
  • Osteoarthritis, which is a type of arthritis that can affect the joint and spine causing pain, stiffness, tenderness and loss of flexibility. If you're experiencing any of the above conditions, seek the expertise of a spine doctor at White Plains Hospital Center for Orthepaedic & Spine Surgery. 
  • Radiculopathy, any disease or disorder (such as a herniated disc) which affects the nerve roots.
  • Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a vertebra in the lower part of the spine slips out of the proper position onto the vertebra below it.
  • Stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that places pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (the "neural foramina") where spinal nerves exit the spinal column.
  • Tumors, which may arise in the spine or spread there from a cancer that started somewhere else (such as advanced prostate cancer).

Diagnostic tests for spinal disorders

When you have back pain, your doctor may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the pain, its location and its severity. The following tests are available at White Plains Hospital:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT scanning)
  • Myelography, the injection of a contrast dye into the spinal canal to enhance x-ray imaging of the spine—used to diagnose spinal nerve injury, herniated discs, fractures, back or leg pain, and spinal tumors
  • Discography, a means of visualizing the spinal discs using CT scanning and a contrast agent
  • Electromyography to diagnose nerve and muscle dysfunction and spinal cord disease; it records the electrical activity from the brain and/or spinal cord to a peripheral nerve root (in the arms and legs) that controls muscles during contraction and at rest
  • Nerve conduction testing to assess nerve function

Spine care FAQs

Do you have back pain that...

  • Causes numbness, weakness or tingling? Back pain accompanied by a pins-and-needles feeling typically requires evaluation from a medical professional. Numbness, weakness and tingling indicate that the pain is related to nerve irritation or damage, including conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis. If these conditions are left untreated, this could lead to permanent nerve damage and disability. Early diagnosis and treatment can ensure you will regain function and avoid permanent issues.
  • Causes bowel or bladder problems, or progressive weakness in your legs? Sudden difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels or gradual weakness in your legs are both signs that you should seek immediate medical care. These could be signs that you have cauda equina syndrome, caused by compression of nerves in the lower spine. While this condition is rare, individuals suffering from these symptoms should seek prompt medical care, as cauda equina syndrome generally requires emergency back surgery.
  • Occurs only at night? Pain that only occurs at night and makes it difficult to sleep is a red flag that should not be ignored. This type of pain could be caused by a wide range of issues, such as disc degeneration, a sprained muscle, or a tumor or growth along the spine. If you have pain that makes it difficult to sleep through the night, you should have your pain evaluated by a specialist that can help you find relief, making it easier to sleep and avoiding further damage.
  • Is accompanied by a fever? While a high fever can sometimes cause general aches and pains, a fever accompanied by sudden back or neck pain could be a sign of a serious infection, such as meningitis. If you have a fever over 101℉ that does not respond to medication along with pain in the back or neck, you should be evaluated by a physician immediately to rule out serious infection.
  • Lasts longer than 6 weeks? Back pain normally goes away with rest and over-the-counter medications. However, if your pain lasts for longer than six weeks, progressively gets worse or interferes with your day-to-day life, you may have chronic pain that should be evaluated.

Why should I choose White Plains Hospital for spinal care?

Back pain can negatively affect your quality of life and make everyday tasks nearly impossible. Early diagnosis and treatment of the cause of your back pain is essential, and our spine doctors have access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology to pinpoint the cause, location and severity of pain. Our inpatient facilities and amenities ensure that our patients have a comfortable environment for recovery. While surgery is sometimes needed, our experts within the department of Orthopedic Surgery provide patients with the least invasive treatments necessary. Our spinal doctors at White Plains Hospital offer incomparable routine and emergency care for your back pain to get you back to your life.

What causes spine pain?

Typically, spine pain that requires surgery is the result of a herniated disc. A herniated disc may be caused by a single excessive strain or injury or age-related degeneration. Some people are more vulnerable to herniated discs. Research has not shown that disc diseases are hereditary, but they can run in families.

In addition, other types of spine pain can be caused by:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Arthritis
  • Skeletal irregularities (such as scoliosis)
  • Osteoporosis

How does spine pain differ in each area of the spine?

Lumbar spine (lower spine): Sciatica is a common result of a herniated disc of the lumbar spine. When there is pressure on a nerve, a person may experience pain, burning, tingling and numbness. These sensations can radiate from the buttock to the leg and, in some cases, into the foot. In addition, the pain may worsen depending on whether a person is sitting, walking or standing.

Cervical spine (neck): When a person experiences a herniated disc of the cervical spine, symptoms can include either dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. In addition, the pain may radiate down the arm to the hand or fingers. Numbness or tingling may be present in the shoulder or arm.

Thoracic spine: A thoracic disc herniation can cause pain near the ribs. Specifically, the pain typically originates in the posterior chest and radiates around the rib cage. This type of pain can be triggered from several different factors, including physical exertion or even taking a deep breath. With a thoracic herniated disc, a person may also experience numbness around the chest. This type of herniated disc is rarer than a herniated disc of the lumbar or cervical spine.

Is there anything I can do to prevent lower back pain?

Yes, there are certain precautions a person can take to prevent lower back pain, including:

  • Engaging in abdominal-strengthening exercises
  • Using proper lifting techniques (don’t bend and lift) for heavy objects
  • Maintaining good posture when sitting and standing
  • Not smoking, as smoking can cause lower back pain and degenerative disc disorders
  • Avoiding undue stress, as this can cause muscle tension
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, as advised by a medical professional