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The Spine Center

Your spine is a stack of 33 bones (vertebrae) and cartilage discs that play an important role in your daily functioning. In addition to connecting different parts of the skeleton, such as your head, arms and legs, your spine also protects your spinal cord.

Spine problems can cause neck pain, back pain and stiffness that can disrupt your life, but relief is within reach. The Spine Center at St. Francis Medical Center specializes helping patients get lasting relief using the best available surgical and nonsurgical treatments.

Highlights of our program

  • Expertise: Our team of neurosurgeons specializes in diagnosing and treating spine conditions. Our neurosurgeons have training and expertise in all parts of the nervous system, including the spine and spinal cord. We have a depth of experience from treating more than 500 patients every year, which means we can offer you the best possible care.
  • Emergency treatment: We specialize in complex surgical procedures, including reconstructive spine surgery. These treatments can help you return to normal or near-normal functioning after experiencing a serious injury. Learn more about care for injuries (trauma).
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Experts at St. Francis have special training and regularly perform spine surgery using minimally invasive techniques. These advanced techniques repair spine problems using smaller incisions and sophisticated instruments, so you can feel better faster. Minimally invasive techniques are not widely available in the community.
  • Easy access to specialists: Patients who come to us through the emergency department receive immediate care. We are able to see new non-emergency (elective) patients within one week. Our team speaks English, Spanish and Chinese so you can receive important care information in your preferred language.
  • Personalized care: Every person’s experience with spine problems is different, which is why we take the time to consider all of your options. Our individualized approach gives you the best possible chances for long-term symptom relief.

Conditions We Treat

Spine conditions can affect the bones (vertebrae) of the spine or the spinal cord itself.

Spine conditions we treat include:

  • Arthritis of the spine: Joints in your spine connect the vertebrae and make it possible to perform movements such as bending and twisting. Arthritis of the spine happens when the joints thicken and harden, causing pain, tenderness and swelling.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Discs, which are the shock absorbers of the spine, may wear down. This may cause:
    • Back pain
    • Disc herniation, or a slipped disc, that can cause
      • Radiculopathy: Shooting pain in your arm(s) or leg(s)
      • Spinal stenosis: Narrowing in the spinal column and leg pain
  • Fracture: A fracture happens when one or more vertebrae becomes cracked or partially broken. You may experience a fracture after a bad fall or a car accident. Spine fractures require extra special care because bone fragments can shift and pinch the spinal cord, which increases your risk for permanent damage.
  • Lower back pain: Many people experience pain in their lower back at some point in their life. You may experience pain anywhere from your lower ribs all the way down to your tailbone. The many causes of low back pain include strain, overworked muscles and natural wear and tear.
  • Scoliosis: This lifelong condition develops when the spine forms an abnormal sideways curve. Reconstructive surgery can reduce the curve and restore a more natural alignment, which may relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Sciatica: The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lowest part of your back and extends down the entire length of your leg. Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition develops when the open areas of the spine begin to close in (narrow). This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord, causing symptoms such as pain and muscle weakness in the arms and legs.

Neck Pain and Back Pain Treatments

At the St. Francis Spine Center, we use the least invasive method possible to help you return to a pain-free lifestyle and improve your everyday functioning. We first pursue nonsurgical treatments, such as medications. If these treatments fail to relieve the discomfort, we will recommend the surgical options that best fit your medical needs and personal preferences.

Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Pain management: Medications you take by mouth, including muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories, can temporarily ease pain and discomfort. We personalize your treatment to help you get maximum relief while minimizing unpleasant side effects.
  • Injections: This treatment uses a needle to inject powerful medications into the area of your spine causing the discomfort. While the idea of an injection may sound frightening, our expertise and compassionate approach provide you with a positive experience.
  • Physical therapy: We guide you through gentle exercises and activities designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your neck or back. Our physical therapists offer a depth of experience in meeting the unique needs of spine patients, which can increase your chances for successful treatment. Find out more about physical therapy in our rehabilitation services department.

Surgical treatments include:

  • Decompression: We can lessen pain by relieving the pressure on the nerves that cause pain. These procedures typically involve removing a small portion of the vertebrae bone and the surrounding tissues compressing the nerves.
  • Fusion: This procedure strengthens weak areas of the spine by permanently connecting (fusing) two or more vertebrae. During a fusion procedure, we place screws and rods to hold the vertebrae together. Over time, the vertebrae fuse together, creating a strong support system for your spine.
  • Artificial disc replacement: We use this surgery to replace worn-out spinal discs with artificial ones made of metal and plastic. Spinal discs are small shock absorbers that prevent individual vertebra from rubbing together. Spinal disc replacement surgery may offer advantages compared to other treatments, such as spinal fusion.
  • Spine reconstruction: During reconstructive surgery, we help restore normal functioning and alignment to a spine that has become misshapen due to medical conditions such as scoliosis or serious injury (trauma). Our neurosurgeons use a variety of techniques, including decompression and fusion, to realign vertebrae and stabilize the spine.

Contact Us

Contact us at 310-900-4788 to learn more about the services we offer or to make an appointment.