There is much discussion about the use of the laser for treatment of pain in the spine, or for treatment of pain radiating down the leg, known as sciatica. In order to understand more about this, it is necessary to have a better understanding of what is causing the pain, and what the laser actually does.
The laser is a device which delivers a high amount of focused energy into a small spot. The word LASER stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” When used in the operating room, the laser allows the surgeon the ability to cut or vaporize tissue.
Pain in the lower back, and pain traveling down the lower extremities, is a very common problem facing society. The daily impact which the spine encounters as it keeps us erect and wrlking, constantly battling the forces of gravity, do take their toll upon the spine.
Next, let’s discuss what actually causes pain in the spine, or radiating pain in the lower extremity, known as sciatica. Pain in the spine can come from muscle or ligament strain and sprain, from pressure on nerves, from intervertebral disc injury or tears, or from injury to the facet joints (located between the different vertebral body levels). Pain in the lower extremities (sciatica) may result from pressure on the nerves, from a herniated disc or from arthritis. In order to relieve the pain, the pressure must be removed from the nerve. This can be achieved by removing the portion of the disc which is pressing on the nerve, or drilling away or otherwise removing the bone spur pushing on the nerve. In the event of removing the disc bulge, this can be done by cutting the disc, or pulling the fragment out, or burning or vaporizing this fragment with a laser.
When we are dealing with pain in the spine (low back pain), the pain can be coming from several sources, as indicated above. When the pain is coming from the facet joint, a procedure can be done to disable the sensory nerves going to the facet joint. This can be done by heating the nerves, either by a heated probe known as a rhizotomy, or by the use of a laser. The nerves which are targeted are known as the medial branches of the spinal nerves which leave the spine.
To summarize, treating back pain or spine pain requires understanding what the source of the pain is. Once this is determined, treatment of the problem can begin. The laser functions as a focused source of heat which can destroy or vaporize tissue. Other methods such as cutting or coagulating can provide a similar result. The laser serves among other tools in the armamentarium of a spine surgeon or pain specialist, but in itself, is still merely a tool. The critical role in treating pain of the spine or sciatica is diagnosing what is causing the pain. The source of the pain can be chronic, or sudden (such as whiplash from a motor vehicle injury).
Experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston focus on discovering what the source and cause of the pain is. They believe that it is only after the cause has been located, that the actual treatment can truly begin. Simply treating the symptom of pain, without trying to find the cause, is not a good long term solution.
The KBNI, in Houston, TX treats patients from Houston, Katy, Woodlands, Sugarland, Kingwood, Beaumont, Memorial City, and TMC (Texas Medical Center). Patients who are suffering from low back pain, neck pain, and sciatica are welcome to call for an appointment.
They can also visit the website www.spinehealth.com and schedule online.
No testing or imaging studies are needed to make an appointment. Experts at the KBNI will arrange for appropriate studies.
Tags: spine, pain, sciatica, laser, Houston, katy, woodlands, sugarland, kingwood, Beaumont, Memorial City, TMC (Texas Medical Center)