Spinal Stenosis: Symptoms and Remedies

Spinal stenosis is a condition due to narrowing of the spinal cord causing nerve pinching which can lead to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the lower extremities, and decreased physical activity.

There are two types of spinal stenosis: lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. 75% of cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lumbar spine (low back), which is called lumbar spinal stenosis, and most will affect the sciatic nerve which runs along the back of the leg. When this happens, it is commonly called sciatica. While lumbar spinal stenosis is more common, cervical spinal stenosis is often more dangerous because it involves compression of the spinal cord.

  • In lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the lower back are compressed; this can produce tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates from the low back and into the buttocks and legs – especially with activity.
  • Spinal stenosis pain in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis) can be far more dangerous by compressing the spinal cord. It can lead to major body weakness or even paralysis.

Virtually the entire adult population faces degenerative stenosis because it is a result of the natural process of aging. It is a degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal that results in compression of spinal nerves and nerve roots, causing myriad symptoms including lower back pain and lower extremity pain.

Congenital lumbar stenosis is relatively rare and usually presents at an early age, often between 30 and 40. It is a puzzling condition that can’t be predicted or prevented.

Spinal stenosis diagnosis typically involves:spinal stenosis image

  • MRI scan or CT scans
  • X-Rays to detect the growth of bone spurs
  • Physical Exam

Treatment will usually involve exhausting all conservative treatment approaches first, using a combination of rest, support devices, physical therapy, and pain medications. If pain continues, a surgical procedure may be pursued.

If you suffer from back or neck pain, contact Dr. Wesley Johnson for a consultation. He can help you get to the root of the problem and work to find the best solution for you.

Read more online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spinalstenosis.html

Recovering from Knee Replacement: What to Expect

Research suggests that joint surgery may have benefits beyond pain relief. It could even extend your life. For example, according to a 2012 study by Exponent, a scientific consulting firm in Menlo Park, California, people with osteoarthritis pain who opted for knee replacements had a 50% lower risk of dying from any cause seven years later than those who didn’t have the surgery. However, even if the surgery makes life better in the long run, what can one expect for the short term? What is the recovery period like?doctor examinging knee

During the first few weeks after surgery, you’re more likely to experience a good recovery if you follow all of your surgeon’s instructions concerning wound care and diet and exercise. Your physical activity program should include:

  • A graduated walking program — first indoors, then outdoors — to gradually increase your mobility
  • Slowly resuming other normal activities, including walking up and down stairs
  • Knee-strengthening exercises performed several times a day

In the time it will take for your knee to initially heal from surgery, you will be dealing with pain, but medications can make the pain manageable.
While in the hospital, you’ll be prescribed activities to prevent blood clots, help your joint heal properly, minimize scar tissue, and strengthen your muscles to support the new joint. Within a few days, you should be able to move well enough to leave the hospital and return home.

Within the first six weeks, physical therapy continues to be important for improving the motion of the knee and allowing for a natural transition back to normal knee movement. Patients who comply with physical therapy exercises tend to recover much faster. The average time for this short-term recovery is 6 to 12 weeks.
Long term recovery involves the complete healing of the surgical wounds and the internal soft tissues involved in the operation. When you are ready to return to work and your normal activities, you are on the way to full term recovery. This phase can last between 3 and 6 months.

Senior couple dancing on veranda
If you are considering knee replacement, contact Dr. Wesley Johnson for a consultation. With more than 20 years performing orthopedic surgery, he can inform you of all your options and set you on the road to new, pain-free knees!

All About Joint Replacement

More than 1 million Americans have a hip or knee replaced each year. Research has shown that even if you are older, joint replacement can help you move around and feel better. A doctor may suggest a joint replacement to improve quality of life because replacing a joint can relieve pain and help you move and feel better.

While hips and knees are replaced most often, joints that can be replaced include the shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows. Joints can be damaged by arthritis and other diseases, injuries, or other causes. Arthritis or simply years of use may cause the joint to wear away. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Bones are alive, and they need blood to be healthy, grow, and repair themselves. Diseases and damage inside a joint can limit blood flow, causing problems.

A new joint, called prosthesis can be made of plastic, metal, or both. It may be cemented into place or not cemented so that your bone will grow into it. Both methods may be combined to keep the new joint in place. Sometimes, the surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts. New joints generally last at least 10 to 15 years.

knee jointAny surgery has risks. Risks of joint surgery depend on your health before surgery, how severe your arthritis is, and the type of surgery done. Only a doctor can tell if you need a joint replaced. After examinations, the doctor may say that you should consider exercise, walking aids such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or medicines and vitamin supplements. Medicines for arthritis include drugs that reduce inflammation, or depending on the type of arthritis, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs.

If you are considering joint replacement, make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Wes Johnson. He can help you decide what options might be best for you.

Minimally Invasive Surgery’s Expanding Role in Orthopedic Medicine

Over 20 years ago we started to hear about how arthroscopic surgery had revolutionized knee surgery. Before then, if a patient had torn knee cartilage the surgical procedure required opening the knee, and a recovery period of several weeks or months was expected. Now many, if not most, knee surgeries are performed through small keyhole incisions using an arthroscopic tube. This type of surgery is much less intrusive to the body, and is now the trend in spine and other orthopedic surgeries as well.

Surgical procedures are often referred to as either open or minimally invasive. Open procedures require larger incisions, more anesthesia, longer operating time, hospitalization, and the patient usually needs more time to recuperate. Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques utilize portals or tiny incisions made in the skin through which small, specialized instruments are inserted.

Minimally invasive techniques are designed for:

  • Less blood loss
  • Lower infection rate
  • Less patient pain
  • Quicker patient ambulation and return to work
  • Less overall costs for appropriately indicated patients

Today many different types of orthopedic surgery can be performed utilizing minimally invasive techniques. Some types of MIS use laser technology. New instruments for use in MIS continue to be developed and refined. Imaging technology also plays a role in MIS development. As surgeons are better able to visualize and guide tools and implants to desired locations, the complexity and learni?????????????????????????????????ng curve required for MIS surgery will lessen. Minimally invasive techniques also allows for cases to take place in the outpatient ambulatory surgery center setting, keeping medical costs lower and allowing patients to recover comfortably at home or in a rehabilitation facility.

Each case is unique and not all patients are good candidates for MIS; open surgery isn’t going away any time soon. There will always be a role for traditional open approaches, but the role for MIS will continue to expand.

If you are considering orthopedic surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Wes Johnson. He and his team can help you decide what options are best for you.

Read more online at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3117522/


How to Choose the Right Orthopedic Surgeon for You

Orthopedics is a specialty focusing on the care of patients with musculoskeletal problems including congenital deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, metabolic disturbances of the musculoskeletal system, deformities, injuries and degenerative diseases of the spine, hands, feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows in children and adults. In other words, orthopedic surgeons are in the important business of bones. When you need this kind of doctor, how do you know who to choose?

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • What outcome are you hoping for? Do you want relief from pain in everyday activities or the ability to perform vigorous sports activities?
  • What does your health plan cover? Are there any restrictions in your choice of physician or facility where surgery is performed?
  • Are there specific techniques or types of procedures you want to know more about?
  • How close to home do you want to be for surgery and the rehabilitation after surgery?
  • Do you like and trust this doctor?
  • Do you feel good about this doctor’s expertise?
  • Do you and this doctor communicate well?

Consider asking a prospective surgeon questions including:

  • What procedures do you recommend for my case? Why?
  • How many times have you performed this procedure in the past year?
  • What is your complication rate?
  • How do you follow a patient post-surgery?
  • thTell me about your medical team – nurses, physical therapists, and others who can help guide me pre and post-surgery.

Although all orthopedic surgeons are qualified to perform a wide range of procedures, different doctors will have specific areas of expertise, special training, and unique practice philosophies. Some may practice new approaches you’ve heard about in the news; others may stick with traditional time-proven procedures.

If you are experiencing a joint or spine problem, contact Dr. Wes Johnson for a consultation. He will answer all of your questions and help you determine what option is best for you.

Read more on this topic online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002069.htm