Spine Care

Effective diagnoses & treatments

West Jefferson Medical Center provides quality patient care in the treatment of disorders of the spine. From the diagnostic setting to post-treatment and comprehensive rehabilitation – including a SwimEx Therapy Pool in the on-campus Aquatics Center – our staff members support physicians in the care of patients with diseases and conditions of the spine.

Spine Care at West Jefferson involves comprehensive non-surgical and surgical treatments. The Spine Care team focuses on non-invasive procedures that often decrease downtime. Of course, our team of experienced surgeons is ready to handle any procedure. From neurological surgery to complex spinal surgery, the team at WJMC treats a variety of spinal injuries, as well as trauma and tumors. Specialized surgical procedures performed at West Jefferson may include endoscopic surgery, lumbar disc replacement, and traditional open and complex spinal fusion procedures.

Our team specializes in the following complex spine disorders and surgeries:

  • Caudia Equina Syndrome is an extreme version of nerve compression or inflammation. It is a serious condition caused by compression of the nerves in the lower portion of the spinal canal. It is considered a surgical emergency because if left untreated, it can lead to permanent loss of bowel and bladder control and paralysis of the legs.
  • Cranio-cervical junction is the connection of the skull and the spinal cord. A rare and serious condition affecting the skull and upper cervical region happens when the dens, the cone-shaped odontoid process on the second cervical vertebra, pushes into the skull, pressing on the front of the brainstem and the cervical spinal cord. The condition can be the result of congenital abnormalities or can be acquired over time in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Weakness in the arms and legs, numbness, and walking problems are often seen. Untreated, people become wheelchair-bound and the disease may eventually be fatal.
  • Myelomeningocele is a birth defect wherein the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. The condition is a type of spina bifida. Myelomeningocele is the most common type of spina bifida. Myelomeningocele may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants. It is most common in the lower back (lumbar and sacral areas). Babies lose function below the level of the problem. So, the higher the myelomeningocele is on the baby's back, the more loss of function occurs.
  • Spina Bifida is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube of an infant. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. If the opening is large enough, this allows a portion of the spinal cord to stick out through the opening in the bones. There may or may not be a fluid-filled sac surrounding the spinal cord. Myelomeningocele is the most common form. Spina bifida can be surgically closed after birth, but this does not restore normal function to the affected part of the spinal cord.
  • Spinal Cord Trauma is damage to the spinal cord. It may result from injury to the cord or from damage to surrounding bones, tissues, or blood vessels. Spinal cord trauma can be caused by injuries to the spine such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and industrial accidents. A minor injury can cause spinal cord trauma if the spine is weakened (such as from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis), or if the spinal canal protecting the spinal cord has become too narrow (spinal stenosis) due to aging. Direct injury, such as cuts, can occur to the spinal cord, particularly if the bones or the disks have been damaged. Fragments of bone (for example, from broken vertebrae, which are the spine bones) or fragments of metal (such as from a traffic accident or gunshot) can cut or damage the spinal cord. Direct damage can also occur if the spinal cord is pulled, pressed sideways, or compressed. This may happen if the head, neck, or back are twisted abnormally during an accident or injury. Bleeding, fluid accumulation, and swelling can happen inside the spinal cord or outside the spinal cord (but within the spinal canal). The accumulation of blood or fluid can compress the spinal cord and damage it. Most spinal cord trauma happens to young, healthy individuals.
  • Syringomyelia is a cyst in the center of the spinal cord that is filled with fluid. The cyst can form anywhere along the spinal cord. It can get larger and longer over time and puts pressure on the spinal cord. If not treated it can cause nerve damage. The damage may result in pain, paralysis, weakness, and stiffness in the back, shoulders, hands and feet. It may also cause a loss of the ability to feel hot or cold, especially in the hands.
  • Tethered Cord is improper development of the spinal cord resulting in a bony protrusion, tumor, fatty deposit, or scar tissue that may pin the spinal cord somewhere in the lower back. The spinal cord is tugged between the lower back and the brain stem. Because the vertebral column grows more quickly than the nerves that make up the spinal cord, tethering will cause increased tension on the cord as a child grows. In addition, activity and scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) will cause additional abnormal stretching of the spinal cord, leading to a wide range of neurological symptoms. Unless treated, this condition will worsen over time. Children with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spine column does not close, often have tethered spinal cord. Children with tethered spinal cord can experience a wide range of symptoms such as low-back pain; deformities of the leg, hip, and foot; problems walking; weakness and loss of sensation in the legs; scoliosis; and incontinence.