The specialized spine doctors at UT Southwestern Spine Center are dedicated to helping patients overcome spine problems, providing comprehensive care and access to the latest and most effective treatments.
At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our team of experts works together to provide the most advanced and individualized care based on the latest research and guidelines.
Our multidisciplinary team approach gives patients with spine disorders access to all of our specialists with one call. We are committed to providing personalized care that meets each patient’s needs to help them get back to good health as soon as possible.
Advanced Treatment for Spine Disorders
The spine consists of 26 bones called vertebrae, which protect and support the spinal cord and nerves. A number of conditions and injuries can affect the spine, which can damage the vertebrae, cause pain, and limit mobility.
Our neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, physiatrists, pain physicians, psychologists, and other specialists have extensive experience in treating even the most complex spinal conditions, giving our patients access to an array of expertise to help improve their pain and quality of life.
Types of Spine Disorders
Numerous conditions can affect the spine anywhere from the neck to the lower back. Some of the many spine disorders we treat are:
Degenerative spine and disc conditions:
Other spine conditions and disorders:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Back pain
- Basilar invagination, basilar impression, and cranial settling
- Chronic spine and back pain
- Neck pain
- Osteoporosis and vertebral fractures
- Scheuermann's kyphosis
- Spinal cord cancer
- Spinal cord injury
- Spinal deformities
- Spinal fracture
- Spinal tumors
Causes of Spine Disorders
Spine disorders have a wide variety of causes depending on the particular condition. For some conditions, the causes are unknown. Common causes include:
- Accidents or falls
- Congenital disorders (present since birth)
- Inherited disorders
- Injuries ranging from minor to traumatic
- Degenerative wear and tear that comes with aging
Risk Factors for Spine Disorders
Factors that can increase the risk of developing a spine disorder include:
- Excess weight or obesity
- Improper lifting techniques
- Nutrition and lifestyle habits such as sedentary lifestyle, low calcium intake, or smoking
- Other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disease
- Overuse from exercise or occupational movement
- Poor posture
- Repetitive strenuous activities
Symptoms of Spine Disorders
Signs and symptoms depend on the specific spine disorder and often affect other parts of the body, depending on the area of the spine or spinal cord that is affected. Common symptoms include:
- Abnormally rounded shoulders or back
- Back or neck pain that can be sharp and stabbing, dull and aching, or burning
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain radiating in the arms or legs
- Stiffness or tightness
- Uneven appearance, such as one shoulder or hip being higher than the other
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms or legs
Diagnosis of Spine Disorders
At UT Southwestern, our spine experts conduct a thorough evaluation, including:
- Physical exam
- Discussion of personal and family medical history
- Discussion of symptoms and risk factors
- Neurological exam, if a nerve injury or disorder is suspected
Depending on each patient’s individual case, our doctors might recommend one or more tests, such as:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnet to produce detailed images of the spine. MRI is useful in detecting injuries and disorders in soft tissue such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, spinal cord, and nerves.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: CT uses specialized X-rays with or without a contrast agent to produce cross-sectional, 3D images of the spine. CT provides images that are more detailed than plain X-rays for evaluating bone injuries or disorders.
- X-ray: We use X-rays of the neck or different areas of the back to check for bone problems such as fractures, other injuries, and chronic disorders.
- Biopsy: If cancer is suspected, our neurosurgeons can take a small tissue sample for analysis under a microscope.
- Electromyography (EMG): Electrodiagnostic examinations measure electrical activity generated by muscles and nerves. They generally involve seeing how different parts of the body react to stimuli.
Treatment for Spine Disorders
Our spine specialists often use one or more treatments, depending on the specific condition or injury. Treatments we offer include:
- Back bracing
- Cancer treatment such as surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy, radiosurgery, and chemotherapy
- Ice or heat therapy for injuries
- Injections, such as corticosteroids or nerve blocks, for pain
- Medications such as anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, or muscle relaxers
- Rehabilitation using physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the back and abdominal muscles
- Surgery to replace discs, fuse (connect) vertebrae, open up the spinal canal, or repair nerves
UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of all types of spine disorders. Talk with our doctors to see if a clinical trial is available.
Related Conditions and Treatments
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Back Pain
- Basilar Invagination, Basilar Impression, and Cranial Settling
- Chronic Spine and Back Pain
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Disc
- Neck Pain
- Radiation Oncology
- Scheuermann's Kyphosis
- Spina Bifida
- Spinal Deformities
- Spinal Fracture
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Tumors
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Richardson, Texas 75080 972-669-7101