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Neurosciences Help Solve the Back Pain Puzzle

Along with treating the gamut of conditions and diseases related to the nerve, spinal cord and brain, neuroscience specialists with Dominican's Medical Staff--neurologists and neurosurgeons--are key to solving many serious cases of back pain.

In the US, 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some time during their life. It's a leading reason for doctor visits and hospitalizations. After the common cold, it's the most frequent cause for missing work.

Most back pain is caused by muscle spasm or injuries to ligaments, bones or the discs between the spinal vertebrae that give the spine its flexibility and act as shock absorbers. Sometimes, there's a narrowing of the spinal canal. Or, there may be a protrusion of one of the discs. Back pain may also be caused by instability of the spine. Or, it could be a combination of these factors.

There are four basic approaches to treating back pain:

  • Do nothing;
  • Non-invasive approaches, including physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication;
  • Minimally invasive approaches, such as spinal injections;
  • Surgery that may involve removing some of the material in a herniated disc (discetomy): removing part or all of the lamina, a small bony plate at the back of a vertebra, to get access to a disc (laminectomy or laminotomy); or adding a bone graft that stabilizes the spine (fusion).

Today's Technology Renders Brain, Spinal Surgeries Safer

For back or brain surgery patients, the delicate operations were once fraught with risk and entailed long hospital stays and often lengthy, painful recoveries. Now, though, Dominican Hospital has the most state-of-the-art equipment available that significantly reduces risk and shortens recovery time with minimal pain.

Dominican has had precision surgery technology since 2000, but this year acquired BrainLab, the most up-to-date equipment of its kind on the market.

An MRI or CAT scan is downloaded into the navigation system in the operating room where the surgeons use the image to plot their approach to the affected area with minimal disturbance to the brain or spine. Because neurosurgeons are able to more precisely discriminate between healthy tissue and tumors, they can more completely remove a tumor without removing healthy tissue and possibly damaging a person's mobility or speech.


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Dominican Hospital
1555 Soquel Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(831) 462-7700