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Back FAQ

I noticed at a recent bridge party that half of the women there had a dowager's hump, that hump at the top of the spine. Most of us are nearing 80. Why do some people develop a hump and others don't?

Does low back pain affect kids?

My doctor says there's less of a chance that I'll get good results from spine surgery because I smoke. He thinks the bones in my spine may not grow together properly. Is there any way to get a better outcome, save quitting?

My doctor said there's a natural protein that helps healing after spinal surgery. Is this a nutritional program?

My doctor wants to use electricity to help my spine heal after fusion surgery. How does this work?

My doctor explained that keeping my spine bent forward at work can cause the tissues to lose tension, and lead to injury. I thought tension in your back was unhealthy. When is tension good?

It seems I'm always bending forward at work, and I'm worried about the effects on my low back. How much rest does my back need to keep from getting injured?

I hurt my back at work last month. Now I am seeing a physical therapist for exercises. Will I have to do these exercises for the rest of my life?

I know that both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons perform specialized spine surgeries. What are the potential differences between the two in terms of training?

I'm scheduled to see a spine surgeon next week. It sounds like I might need surgery. What are some questions I should ask to make sure I don't end up having a surgery I don't really need?

Is ankylosing spondylitis associated with intestinal problems?

What is proprioceptive training for the spine?

In my exercise class, we are often on hands and knees trying to balance on one leg and one arm. I find if very hard to keep my back straight when doing this exercise. Is this true for everyone or do I have some specific weakness?

I am a store manager with 55 employees. When someone hurts his or her back while on the job, can doctors tell if the person is pretending to be in pain? Sometimes, I wonder if injured workers are telling the truth about their symptoms.

I‘m on worker’s compensation for a work-related back injury. The doctor’s report mentions disability and impairment. What’s the difference between these two things?

My doctor told me that patients who are “neurotic” don’t do as well after back surgery. What are these traits?

My husband still has back pain after a work injury that took place two years ago. How can we be sure this isn’t something more serious like cancer?

I am a 25-year old with moderate scoliosis. I’m always trying to keep up with treatment for scoliosis. What can you tell me about the new titanium cages to fuse the spine for this condition?

I saw a special on TV about the new titanium cages for spinal fusion. How do they know these really work?

My wife is going to have a disc replacement in just a few weeks. She's wondering how soon she'll see results of this surgery.

Ten years ago I had a disc problem. Doctors used an MRI to find it. Now I've had another disc go bad on me. Instead of an MRI, the doctor wants to do a discography. Why didn't they do this the last time I had a disc problem?

I had some tests done that show my low back pain is coming from a damaged and protruding disc. I opted to try diet and exercise instead of an operation. So far I've lost 50 pounds and my back pain is better. It does seem like a slow recovery. How can I tell if the disc is getting better without getting another MRI?

My very elderly mother (93 years old) often complains of back and neck pain. It seems to come and go, only lasting a day or two. And it's never in the same place twice in a row. Is this normal or should we take her to the doctor for this?

My husband and I have two sets of twins (our own). All four babies weighed less than four pounds each. They are in good health now, but does their small size put them at risk for more diseases in adult life?

I had a car accident six months ago. My doctor tells me I'm completely recovered, but I'm still not moving normally. Will this stiffness and change in movement ever get better?

I need some kind of treatment for back pain that will reduce my pain. I also need to be able to move freely to perform my job. Should I see a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist?

I saw a news report that doctors can use computers now to surgically fuse the spine. How does this work?

My father died of a blood clot to the lungs after what was supposed to be a simple spinal fusion. How can this happen in today's modern medical world?

Airbags only work for front-end automobile collisions. What protects us from a rear or side impact?

I've heard the inside of a spinal disc is made of a jelly kind of substance. What's really in it?

I've had two disc herniations. The first one came on slowly over a couple years. The second one hit me suddenly. One day I was fine, and the next day I was off my feet in agony. Can you explain the difference?

I'm scheduled to start a six-week series of prolotherapy injections for chronic hip and back pain. Before going into it, I'd like to know what could go wrong.

My daughter is going into nursing as a career. I'm concerned because she is only 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds. How can someone that small lift and carry big men three times her size?

Do weight lifters ever hurt their backs? How do they lift all that weight without injury?

My daughter came home with a note from the school nurse saying she might have scoliosis. We're supposed to take her to the doctor's and have it checked out. Where can I go on-line to get more information first?

Ten years ago I saw a program on artificial disc replacements. Seems like they are finally coming on the market. What's the hold up?

I think I've gotten into a bad cycle with my back pain. It hurts when I move so I stopped exercising. The less active I am, the stiffer I get. Now I'm afraid to even try some things. Help! How do I get off this merry-go-round?

If you think you're going to have a bad result does it mean it will happen? My wife is going to have disc surgery and already thinks it won't help. Can pessimists have a good result?

I've seen several people using magnets for their back pain. Is there anything to this? I would sure try it if I thought it would help.

My father was just diagnosed with a spinal epidural abscess. What's the best treatment for this? They think he got it from an abscessed tooth.

Whenever I see the doctor, I always have to fill out some form asking me about my mental outlook and my general health. Why is this information collected?

I've been told to expect some possible pain along the top of my pelvic bone where the bone will be collected to use in my spinal fusion. Are there any other problems to watch for?

I'm going to have a neck fusion next week. The surgeon will use bone chips taken from my pelvic bone. I've been warned that there may be some pain at the donor site. What about the place where the bone chips go -- won't there be pain where they put the graft?

What is a rescue medication? When I talked to my doctor about flareups of my back pain, this idea was mentioned.

What are skip lesions? I'm scheduled for an MRI of my entire body to find out if there are any skip lesions from my previously diagnosed tuberculosis.

My partner has been HIV positive for 10 years now and was just diagnosed with TB. He's had so many tests already. Now they want to do an MRI scan of his entire body. Is this really necessary?

I met a man at the airport who couldn't pick up something he dropped on the floor. He said his spine was fused and he couldn't bend over anymore. Why would someone need a spinal fusion?

My orthopedic surgeon has warned me that there's a one in five chance that I'll need a second spine surgery after having the first operation. I don't know if this means I shouldn't have the first operation or not. How should I think about this?

My wife had spine surgery that went well but later she developed a bad infection next to the bone. The wound has never healed, and the surgeon is suggesting a new treatment called VAC. What can you tell me about it?

My 24-year old daughter had spinal surgery to correct a deformity from scoliosis. We never expected it but she developed a very bad infection. We thought everything went so well because the infection didn't show up until weeks later. Does this happen very often?

I'm reviewing my father's hospital bill after he had spine surgery. There were some complications from infection. He had to stay much longer than expected. One of the items on the bill ($150/day for 40 days) was a VAC system. Can you tell me what this is and if the charge seems correct?

I went to the local clinic for a problem with low back pain. I saw a physical therapist who examined and treated me. I did get better but I'm just wondering: shouldn't a doctor have seen me first before sending me to therapy? What if I had something seriously wrong?

I took my 16-year old daughter in to the clinic for back and leg pain. I was expecting to see her regular pediatrician but we saw the physical therapist instead. When I asked about this, the therapist told me she was trained to spot any red flags that would suggest we see the doctor. What are these red flags?

I just came off of jury duty where the case involved a man who had spine surgery. He developed an infection from the operation. The key point of the case was that the patient was at too great a risk to have this surgery. Does this happen very often or was this a rare situation?

My mother is getting up there in age. She's starting to have some back pain from degenerative arthritis of the spine. Both her doctor and her physical therapist have told her to start walking more. She says it hurts too much. How can we help her get started?

Yesterday I had my first treatment with a naprapathic doctor. My main problem is head and neck pain. Today I am very sore and my pain is actually a bit worse. Is this normal?

Can you tell me what naprapathic treatment is? I have a cousin in Sweden who swears by it for his neck pain. Can I get it here in the U.S.?

I've had a total hip replacement and can no longer squat down to pick things up. I've always been told to squat, not stoop to lift things. Is this still true?

What is a recurrent herniated disc and what causes it?

I've had crystal deposits in my knee that had to be removed. Now I'm having disc problems. Could this be caused by crystals too? And what causes these to grow in my body?

Have you ever heard of getting scoliosis when you are 70 years old? That's what happened to me. I thought this was something teenagers got. Can you explain how I got it?

I’m single Mom with three small children to support. I can't afford to take time off from work. Right now I have sciatica so bad, I can't wait tables at my job. Is there some kind of quick in-and-out surgery that could be done for someone like me?

Why are doctors trying to replace discs in the back or neck rather than just fusing them together as they used to do?

When doctors suggest surgery for your back, do they ever take into account how much money it's costing because of the suffering and our inability to work?

If there are two or three different ways of doing a surgery on my back, and the doctors know that one is better than the other, why would a doctor choose the one with a lower success rate over the other?

If someone has a curve in the spine, other than how they look, why is it important to straighten it out?

What is a disc replacement or prosthesis made of?

I'm due to have surgery on my back and the doctor will implant a prosthesis because of disc degeneration. What happens if the prosthesis breaks?

I notice whenever I go to the chiropractor, I feel better after a couple of days. But the first 24 to 48 hours I'm always so stiff and sore. Is this the way everyone feels after an adjustment?

I've been seeing a chiropractor all my life for adjustments of my neck and back. Now I see reports that this can have serious risks. I've never had a bit of trouble. Just what are they talking about?

I'm going to have a cervical spine fusion for the second time. The first time was at the C3-4 level. This time it's the next level down. I've heard some horror stories that you can go blind from this operation. Is there any truth to this?

I have heard that when you get a bone fused in your back, the doctor can take some of your own bone or he can take it from someone else. If he takes it from you, where does it come from? And how do they decide what type of graft to use?

What are the signs that a back surgery (fusion) is causing problems?

I fell through my attic and landed on concrete so hard, two of my vertebrae burst. That was six months ago. I'm recovering slowly but now the X-rays show the vertebrae are starting to curve more. The doctor called this kyphosis. No one seems to be able to tell me how bad this will get. What do you think?

Years ago, I was in a car accident and suffered a broken leg and burst fractures of the spine. At that time, I was given the choice of having surgery to repair the vertebrae or casting and bedrest. I chose the more conservative route. I still have some back pain and mild disability. I've always wondered if I took the wrong treatment. Maybe I should have had that operation after all. Is there any way to tell?

I'm a person who really believes in exercise for everything. I hurt my back at work last week. After a few days of rest, I thought I'd be back to full speed. But I'm still gimping along. What kind of exercise should I do for this?

My child was diagnosed with spondylolysis. What kind of treatment is proven most effective.

I was told that I have disc degeneration in my low back. How can my doctor know this?

I was told I have disc degeneration, but have no back pain. Is this possible?

My nephew was diagnosed back a year or two ago with ankylosing spondylitis. So far, nothing they've done has helped him. Are there any new treatments for this condition?

When studies say that patients were satisfied with their disc replacement (or other back surgery), what does this refer to? I've had two back surgeries and may need a third. I'm not very happy about the results. How do they measure this?

My medical provider has said my back pain is now chronic. What makes my back pain chronic?

My provider has recommended against X-rays or MRI of my low back. Why would this be?

Is there any attempt at making low back pain studies more uniform among researchers?

My surgeon has warned me that a spinal fusion can lead to degenerative changes in the rest of the spine. What does this amount to anyway?

Can you tell me what a wedge fracture is? My 88-year-old mother has six wedge fractures of the spine. It's very painful, and she's getting all hunched over because of it. Can anything be done?

My father had a percutaneous vertebroplasty two weeks ago for back pain from a vertebral compression fracture. So far there's been no change in his pain. What should we do? Wait longer? Try again?

I heard about someone who had back surgery through her stomach. How (and why!) is that possible?

When my wife went for her back surgery (through her abdomen), we expected her not to be allowed to eat beforehand, but we didn't expect for her to have to take very strong laxatives to empty her bowels and then to swallow barium. Why was that?

When I brought my mom to the doctor because of her persistent back pain, he asked her where it hurt most and then he actually pressed on the area himself, as hard as he could! My mother was almost in tears because it hurt. Why on earth would he do that?

What is the treatment for osteochondroma?

Is it possible for osteochondromas to spread, or become malignant?

Gymnasts seem to have extreme extension of their spines. Can this cause back injuries?

What are the symptoms you might have from a syrinx in the cervical or thoracic spine?

My sister has had three steroid injections into her spine. She hasn't gotten any pain relief. We tell her enough is enough. She should quit getting this treatment. Should she have another one?

How would my doctor know if my rheumatoid arthritis is also affecting my spine?

My wife is an accountant and is advising me to have back surgery for a disc problem simply because it will save us money in the long run. She figures that way I'll be back at my job sooner, bringing in a paycheck again. Waiting for it to heal on its own will just take too long and cost too much in lost wages. Surgery is a big decision. Is she right?

I've decided to set up an exercise program for myself. I'm going to get rid of this nasty back pain I've been living with for months once and for all. But I'm not really an expert in this area. What are some back exercises I can do to at least get started?

Our daughter has a six-month old son who was diagnosed with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. Now that our grandson is starting to sit up, our daughter has been told to put a special support on him to help his spine. She rarely does this. What could happen to his little spine if she doesn't follow the doctor's instructions?

Are there any modifiable risk factors for the development of lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration?

What is a fragility fracture, and what causes it?

Is there a significant risk of mortality following vertebral compression fracture?

What treatment options are available for a vertebral compression fracture?

My mother has very bad arthritis in her spine. She now has a very hunched back and can't look up straight. She's embarrassed to go out. Is there anything she can do?

My mother has to have surgery for her back as it's really deformed (hunched). What types of complications are possible for this type of back surgery?

You hear a lot about people hurting their upper back and their lower back. How come we don't hear as much about the middle part of the back?

How many vertebrae are in the spine?

I've had back and sacroiliac joint pain off and on for the last six months. The doctors finally diagnosed it as ankylosing spondylitis. They want to do MRIs to see what's going on in the low back area. What do MRIs show that you can't see on an X-ray?

Our 22-year old son was just diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. We've been told this runs in families. Should everyone else be tested? What's the next step?

My brother had a car accident and broke his nose from the air bag hitting him in the face. I'd like to have the air bags in my car disabled. How do I go about having this done?

My surgeon tells me she is going to use a minimally invasive way to do my spinal fusion. I get the idea that I'll have a smaller incision. But if they can do these operations now with a smaller incision, why didn't they do so years ago?

Is there some way to tell how someone will do after a vertebral compression fracture? My father-in-law has just been sent to the hospital for what his doctor thinks might be this type of fracture.

How can you tell if someone with a spinal fracture needs to have surgery? My sister has a fracture at the T12-L1 level. The surgeons are trying to decide if she needs a cast vs. surgery.

We are in a dilemma here. My three sisters and I have been asked to approve surgery for Dad. He needs a vertebroplasty for a fractured vertebra. The problem is we will probably end up having to split the noncovered costs as Dad has no money. We've been told he could get better without surgery. It just takes longer and hurts more. We don't want him to suffer but to be honest, at age 86, we're not sure how long he'll live anyway. That sounds pretty blunt but that's what we are dealing with. Can you give us any information that could help us?

Okay, I'm ready to throw the towel in. I've struggled with back pain from bad discs since 1985. Years ago the surgeon told me I should have the bad ones taken out. I guess I'm ready but a thought occurred to me when I made this decision. Is it too late to do something about this problem? Have I waited too long?

Is surgery the only way to cure synovial cysts in the spine?

When I saw the spine doctor last week, she asked me the question, What do you think is going to happen in the future? I gave her an answer on the spurt of the moment, but later after thinking about it for awhile, I wondered what this question is really supposed to tell her about me? Is this a standard question doctors ask these days?

My wife is going to have surgery to fuse at least a dozen vertebra for a bad case of scoliosis. I haven't wanted to ask in front of her, but what are the chances she'll have a good result from this surgery? I guess I'm really wondering what are the chances she won't recover from this procedure.

I didn't have scoliosis as a child but for some reason I developed it as an adult. Now I'm reaching my 40th birthday and can't even walk a block without becoming breathless. I guess my lungs and heart are both compressed by the curved spine and twisted ribs. So -- surgery has been suggested. Is there any chance I could get better without surgery?

I am facing a difficult decision by myself. My husband was injured in an automobile accident and is in a coma. There is evidence of a spinal cord injury but he also has multiple other injuries to the head, lungs, and pelvis. There is a chance he could recover on his own. But early surgery to stabilize the spine and spinal cord might make a difference in the long-term results. Should I approve the decision to do the surgery or wait and see what happens? I don't know what to do.

My husband and I sat on pins and needles while a team of surgeons tried to decide if our 18-year-old son should have surgery right away for a spinal cord injury. After three hours, they finally went ahead and scheduled the operation for this afternoon. We are in the waiting room searching the Internet for any information we can find on this. Why wouldn't surgery be done immediately?

Every week, I have to fill out two forms for my doctor. The first one is a line across the page. I make a mark to show how much back pain I'm having this week. The second is just a list of words from no pain to very severe pain. There's about five choices and I have to pick the one that best matches how I'm feeling. What's the point of using both of these tests? They look pretty much the same to me.

Our 22-year-old daughter came home from Iraq in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury at C5. I guess we feel grateful she didn't come home in a body bag. But we can't help but wonder if there was some mismanagement at the time of injury. No one put a collar on her neck or put her on a rigid board. I thought everyone knew that was the first thing to stabilize possible neck fractures.

What are the risks of minimally invasive spinal surgery? When my surgeon talks to me about it, everything sounds so hunkey dorey. What kinds of problems could I potentially run into? I am planning to have a one-level spinal fusion in three weeks.

I get various on-line medical updates through various services like eMedicine and Medscape. I read one article about the increasing use of minimally invasive surgery for back surgeries. What do you recommend: the old fashioned but tried and true open incision approach or the new more modern minimally invasive method?

I went to a pain clinic hoping to find some relief for my neck pain. A friend had suggested steroid injections that seemed to help her. Instead all I got was a recommendation to take Tylenol, adjust my posture, and come back in three months. They gave me a letter saying these are their current recommendations in an effort to stop the overutilization of injections. I was pretty flabergasted to say the least. Should I try going somewhere else?

I am fighting with my insurance company over injections for my neck. I've had three epidural injections so far and they have really helped. My surgeon is recommending one more and I'm game but my insurance company says they only cover three. They say four injections is not "reasonable or customary." How can I fight this?

My mother's favorite expression when we were kids was, "I have one nerve left and you are on it!" I never really understood this expression until I developed a herniated disc in my low back that is pressing on a nerve. Ouch! As a chemical engineer myself, I can't help but wonder why we can't come up with a product like Pam or teflon to spray on nerves. This would coat them with a protective covering and (in theory at least) keep them from getting overheated. Has anyone ever done anything like this?

Mom called me today to say she cancelled her back surgery. Said after the doctor told her all the possible complications, she decided not to risk it. We hate to see her suffer in pain. How chancy is spinal surgery anyway? Seems like lots of other people we know have it and come out just fine.

What are the real risks of spinal fusion surgery? The surgeon told me all the possible things that could happen (I know they have to do this) but I'd like to get a handle on what's really likely and how likely. Can you offer me any additional information to shed light on this subject?

They say that hindsight is 20-20. Well, after four spinal surgeries, I'm not very happy with that formula. If I could have predicted what would happen to me, I would never have gone through with the first surgery. I had a spinal fusion at L45 and then promptly got a MRSA infection at the incision. It took three more surgeries to clean it up.

I am 42-years old and in relatively good health going in for my first surgery ever: spinal fusion. I'm just having one level done in the low back area. I think they said something like L4. The nurse read me the list of possible complications. Sounds like her biggest concern is a wound infection, which could mean more surgery. And it doesn't sound like there's anything I can do to keep this from happening myself -- is there?

If you can believe this, both Mom and Dad had spinal surgery (lumbar fusion) on the same day. As the oldest daughter, I got recruited to be nurse maid. We are a month post-op and it's been smooth sailing for Mom but Dad has been readmitted to the hospital twice now. They had the same surgeon and basically the same procedure. Why the difference in results?

I don't have a question so much as a problem to share that might help others. My wife had spine surgery to fuse five vertebrae together. We knew that's a lot before heading into the procedure and we knew there could be complications because of it. What we didn't realize was how difficult the move from hospital to home was going to be. Anyone thinking about having this kind of surgery should not go home until both the patient and caregiver are fully prepared.

I don't have a question, just a comment. It seems like one way our country could reduce the cost of health care is to quit sending everyone to a specialist. It seems like everyone is running off to see these highly specialized doctors when their GP could take care of the problem just as well and at a fraction of the cost. That's the way I see it.

I just saw a little blip on the web that flashed by too fast to read the details. It said that the U.S. is spending billions of dollars on spine care every year. I've spent a boatload myself on radiologists, chiropractors, orthopedists, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists -- you name it, I've spent money on it. How are other people saving money on their back care? What can I do to reduce my out-of-pocket expenses?

What is an osteoporotic compression fracture?

How does getting a steroid injection save me and society money?

My back hurts when I lay down, and I can't get any sleep. Would a special mattress help me?

My back started hurting last week. What exercises should I avoid?

I have back pain. Are there any symptoms I should watch out for that mean I should get medical help right away?

I am having back problems. How will the doctor examine my spine?

I have a desk job. How can I lower my chances of having back problems from sitting down all day?

What is arachnoiditis?

I've been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. How fast can I expect my pain to increase as my discs degenerate?

What is a discogram?

My young daughter wants to compete in gymnastics. Will it hurt her low back?

I am going to have surgery for a bulging disc. My doctor wants to do a procedure called IDET. What is IDET?

Do doctors use lasers for spine surgery?

My back is really hurting. Should I just stay in bed?

I have so much back pain. How do I get through my day?

I'm resigned to living with back pain. How can I keep it from getting worse?

Why is good posture important for my back and neck?

I'm recovering from my first episode of back pain, and I'm worried. I've heard that back pain always comes back. What can I do to try to prevent that?

I don't have any back problems, but almost everyone in my family does. What exercises can I do to keep my back healthy?

I've had back pain on and off for five years now. Why won't it go away?

I am going to have spine fusion. Will I be able to walk right after surgery?

A disc in my low back is causing pain. I'm scheduled to have a surgical procedure called interdiscal electrothermal therapy. Will this surgery make my back weaker?

When will I finish physical therapy--when my back pain goes away?

I have intense pain going down my leg. I have tried everything to make it go away--multiple back surgeries, strong pain medications, and almost every kind of pain management treatment possible. My doctor is recommending an epidural stimulator. What is it?

What is epiduralysis? My doctor is recommending it to me. I have had three back surgeries and have developed problems from all the scar tissue.

I have just finished a physical therapy program for my back. But my therapist wants me to keep doing exercises at home. How long do I have to keep this up?

I am going to have spine fusion surgery. The surgeon is going to put metal screws and rods in my back. Will they stay there forever?

I have bad back pain. Do I need surgery?

I have pain in my lower back caused by spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebrae in the lower spine). I will be undergoing fusion surgery, and I've been doing some research on the procedure. I've read that some doctors like to use a pedicle screw. Would a pedicle screw improve my results after surgery?

I just found out that I'm pregnant. Are there any exercises to keep my back from hurting later in my pregnancy?

I had a baby months ago, but my back still hurts. What can I do about it?

I am an avid exerciser. Now I'm pregnant, and I want to keep working out. Is that OK, even late in my pregnancy? Are there exercises I shouldn't do?

I am eight months pregnant. The pain in my lower back is excruciating. What can I do to ease the pain?

I'm pregnant, and my doctor says I have swayback posture. Does this mean I'll have back problems while I'm pregnant?

My fusion surgery didn't heal right, and the pain is excruciating. My doctor says I have pseudarthrosis. What is it, and what can I do about it?

I am going to have a metal plate put in my back during spine surgery. I've heard that bodies sometimes reject implants. Could this happen to me?

My doctor insists that I quit smoking before I have spine surgery. Why?

My hand feels numb, and my arm isn't as strong as it used to be. My husband thinks this is a pinched nerve. Is he right?

Why doesn't my therapist just run the ultrasound along the center of my back, where the pain is?

I get a deep ache when my therapist gives me ultrasound treatments on my back. Should I just put up with it?

I was a horse-racing jockey for 10 years and never had an injury. I quit the sport, but now I'm having a lot of pain in my low back. Is this normal?

My dad and I both race horses, which we've heard can be hard on your back. He thinks I'm more at risk for back problems because I have less experience racing. I say he is because he has older bones. Who's right?

My daughter recently joined an equestrian team. I don't mean to be a worrywart, but I've heard that horseback riding can lead to back problems later on. Is my daughter at risk?

Several months ago, I began having pain in my low back. Now I have pain from my lower back all the way up to my neck. Could this back and neck pain account for my tiredness lately?

Our hospital is thinking of buying equipment to help nurses lift and move patients, but it's a big investment. Does this equipment really help nurses' backs?

Do special devices to help lift and move patients result in fewer injuries for nurses?

Our hospital is looking to buy more patient handling equipment. Is there a difference between manual and mechanical equipment in terms of preventing back problems for health care workers?

Is there any way to know for sure whether I'll get good results from spine fusion surgery?

What is external fixation, and how does it work for low back pain?

My doctor is trying to figure out whether I'll get good results from spine fusion surgery. He wants to try an external fixation device on me. He says if I get relief from this, I'll probably do well with surgery. Is he right?

I hurt my back six months ago and still haven't fully recovered. The doctor has put me on medication for depression even though I don't feel sad or depressed. How is this going to help me?

Last night I got a telephone call from a health company doing a telephone survey. Usually I don't take these kinds of calls, but maybe I should. Are these companies really making a difference with their research?

My wife and I have both had back injuries and years of back pain. After therapy and surgery, my wife still has trouble climbing stairs, getting in and out of the car, and even sitting for very long. Although I have returned to work, my pain level goes way up by the end of the day. We have three children and wonder if they will have weak backs. Is there anything we can do to help them keep healthy backs?

For patients with low back pain, what limits physical performance? Their pain or their mood?

I know that patients with low back pain can get depressed and/or anxious. Do depression and anxiety cause patients to have more pain with physical activity? And do mental health issues limit activity?

My husband has had low back pain for years. He hardly does anything, and he seems depressed. What's keeping him on the couch? Is it what's in his back, or what's in his head?

Are women more likely than men to injure their backs in college sports events?

I read a report that said back injuries are more common in people who do not like their jobs. Does this same principle apply to the sports world?

I just graduated from high school and plan to attend college in the fall. I hurt my back at the end of the track season, but everything seems fine now. I received a college sports scholarship in women's track and field. Is there any reason to notify the college sports program about this injury?

I recently hurt my back at work and went to see my doctor. The doctor told me to avoid bed rest and keep active. What kind of activity is best?

I used to be on estrogen replacement, but I'm not anymore. I've heard that estrogen can cause back problems after menopause. Am I at risk, even though I stopped taking estrogen five years ago?

My doctor said that estrogen replacement can cause back problems after menopause. I'm fairly healthy. I exercise and don't smoke. I don't have arthritis or any other health problems. Am I still at risk for back pain?

I just started hormone replacement therapy. A friend told me that the extra estrogen in my system could give me back problems. Is this true?

How should I position my spine when I sleep in order to protect my lower back?

I had microdiscectomy surgery on my low back. Will I be more likely to injure this area from hard work, and will my risk of injury get better or worse with time?

My dad ended up having back problems after years in the construction business. Now that I'm running the family construction business, I'm worried I might get back pain. Can doctors do some kind of test to see whether I'll have back problems down the road?

My nurse practitioner recently diagnosed my back pain as osteoporosis. He recommended I go on medication for it. I'm 72 and generally feel great. What's the big deal?

As a personal trainer, I see a lot of clients with low back pain. Is there something more than aerobic and strength training that I can do to help them?

Do holistic treatments for low back pain improve patients' health?

I recently hurt my low back. Now the pain flares up every time I try to get going again. Could I be trying to do too much?

What's the best "window of opportunity" for teaching kids basic movement skills?

Why do some people with back pain recover while others go on to have chronic pain?

Do people with low back pain have a harder time getting back to their normal activities than people with neck pain?

My husband has back pain from an accident at work. He says the pain has gotten better, but still he doesn't do the activities he used to. Is this cause for concern?

I have had back pain off and on for the last six months. I think the long hours sitting in front of my computer may be the cause. What can I do to strengthen my back?

The news is full of reports of increasing obesity among our young people. Longer periods of time in front of the television or computer and less physical activity seem to be major problems. Do these things also cause back pain in teenagers?

I am the mother of two teenagers, a girl (15 years old) and a boy (13). I notice that my daughter seems to have back pain much more often than my son. This does not seem to be related to her menstrual cycle. Is this common?

My doctor is sending me to a pain clinic for chronic back pain. I fell off a ladder two years ago, and I still have back pain. I have returned to work and can do everything required, but I still can't go golfing or bowling without a lot of pain the next day. What does "chronic" back pain mean, and will I ever get back to normal?

It is a new school year, and that means choosing a new backpack for my child. What's the best design to help her carry heavy loads each day?

My children are all in elementary school. They seem to complain about shoulder, neck, and back pain more than normal for their age. What could be causing this?

My 13-year-old son is much smaller than the other boys in his class. When I picked up his backpack the other day, it must have weighed close to 30 pounds. He only weighs 80 pounds. Isn't his backpack too heavy for his size?

Do people seeking chiropractic care for back pain have different problems than people who see medical doctors?

How much should I bend my knees while lifting objects?

I've heard that it's important to lift objects the right way, but what's the right way to lift?

I am planning to have back surgery to fuse my spine for a moderately severe scoliosis. The doctor told me that sometimes the surgery is not successful. How often does the surgery have a poor result, and what causes this?

What is spinal stenosis, and what causes it?

With so much back pain and injury among adults, shouldn't we start early and teach our children how to prevent these problems?

My son is supposed to participate in a class about back care at school. What kind of information do they give children in these classes?

It seems like we're hearing more and more about children having back pain. How often does this really happen?

I am 55 years old and seem to be getting shorter as I get older. What causes this?

I was recently diagnosed with several small fractures in my back. The doctor called these vertebral compression fractures. I have had bone mineral density tests. Now, I am scheduled for a bone scan to count the total number of fractures. Why is this necessary?

What do medical doctors say about complementary therapies?

In two weeks, I’m scheduled for a test that will decide if I’m ready to go back to work. I’m worried that I’ll have to do too much and reinjure myself. Should I say something about this when I go in for the test?

I have a fairly nice gym set up for myself at home. This gives me the flexibility of exercising whenever my schedule allows. I did work with a personal trainer for about a month. On my own at home, I notice that my effort seems less. Even though I am doing the same exercises, will there be the same effect as when someone is coaching me?

What are complementary therapies?

I have had upper back and neck pain off and on for several months. Nothing the doctor has given me has helped. Should I try something else like acupuncture or massage?

I heard that scientists have found nerves in the bones of the spine. Aren’t nerves everywhere? How does this new information make a difference?

Every now and then, I hear scientists talk about substance P in a news report. What is this and why is it important?

My daughter was just told she has an epidural abscess. This has been causing low back pain and leg muscle weakness. What is an epidural abscess?

My husband has been having low back pain constantly for the last six weeks. The MRI showed an intradural lipoma. What is this?

I had surgery on my back to remove a tumor. It turned out to be a herniated disk in an unusual area. Doesn’t the MRI show the difference between these two?

Is it better to brace yourself for a car accident or remain relaxed and unknowing?

What's an extraforaminal disc herniation? I understand herniation means the disc has pushed out of its own space between the bones in the spine. What's the extraforaminal?

I've been looking into getting a disc replacement for a back problem I've had for 10 years. I've been told more surgery might be needed after that. How likely is a second operation after a disc replacement? What would it be for?

I see they have disc replacements now. I had a spinal fusion years ago before these things were on the market. Does it ever happen that the spine fuses itself anyway when an artificial disc is used?

I see in the newspaper they are advertising these new artificial discs for the spine. Can I have more than one disc replaced at a time? Or do I need a separate surgery for each one?

I seem to have a very slouched posture no matter what I do. Is this because I'm tall (6'4") or just a family trait? I see the same posture in my father and my son.

Is it really possible to have pain going on 10 years from a disc problem?

I hurt my back while on the job. I never missed a day of work, but it’s been an uphill battle because of the pain. The doctor wants me to see a physical therapist for an exercise program. I’m having trouble fitting this into my schedule. How often do I need to go?

I am a 72-year old man with two back problems. I have spinal stenosis and disc degeneration. The exercises for stenosis cause my disc problem to flare up. Is there anything that will treat one without making the other worse?

My 83-year old mother is in declining health. She has had three vertebral bone fractures and lost six inches in height. Now she is complaining that it’s difficult to breathe and she can’t swallow easily. Could a brace or other treatment help her?

My father had an operation called a balloon kyphoplasty last month. He’s better, but still complaining of back pain. Can this operation be done more than once?

I heard there’s a new treatment for fractures of the spine. It’s called “balloons for bones.” What is this?

I heard there’s a new treatment in Switzerland for low back pain called kryorhizotomy. What’s it for?

I’m going to have an operation to remove a bulging disc. How does the doctor do this?

What is a post-laminectomy syndrome?

Two years ago, I had an operation to remove a disc in my low back. I was completely pain free after the operation. I reinjured my back and had to have the same operation on a different disc. This time, the pain is still there. The same doctor did both operations. Why the different results?

I had surgery on my back to remove a tumor. It turned out to be a herniated disk in an unusual area. Doesn’t the MRI show the difference between these two?

I saw on a science TV show that new discoveries are being made about the nerves to the backbone. What are some of these?

I heard that scientists have found nerves in the bones of the spine. Aren’t nerves everywhere? How does this new information make a difference?

I’m the owner of a medium-sized company that makes boxes. What’s the latest thinking about work-related injuries? Should workers be given treatment right away or more of a “wait-and-see” approach?

I heard a report from Canada that physical therapy keeps people from returning to work after an injury. Is this true?

I am an active horsewoman. I ride, train, and show horses on a regular basis. Is there any reason I can’t go back to these activities after back surgery? I am having a disc and part of the bone removed.

I’m going to have back surgery to remove two discs. I’ve heard different advice about restricting my activities after the operation. What’s the latest on this?

Our local YMCA has a new piece of equipment to strengthen the low back. It’s called a “Roman chair.” If this is designed to work the low back muscles, how come my leg and buttocks are sore?

Do white and blue-collar workers get the same amount of neck and back pain?

I've heard that more and more back surgery is done without even cutting open the spine. How does this compare to the old way of doing back surgery?

Two years ago I had a spinal fusion. The fusion is fine but the place where they took bone from my pelvic bone for the graft is still very painful. Is this normal? Will it ever go away?

My 23-year old son was recently told he has unilateral spondylolysis of the spine. The medical report says it's "benign." What does this mean?

What is a stress reaction of the spine?

Is it really true we are taller in the morning than in the evening?

I'm having some new back pain along the side of my spine. It's not in the spine itself. What could be causing this?

When I'm down at the Senior Citizen's Center it seems everyone is getting medical information off the internet. I'm not "surfing savvy." Am I missing something by just asking my doctor about my problems?

Can I talk to my doctor about information I get about my medical condition off the internet? Are doctors up to speed with information on the web?

What's the difference between herniated disc and slipped disc? I want to use the internet to look up some information about the problem but I'm not sure which words to put into the search engine.

There are six people listed in our phone book who do acupuncture. They all advertise a different type of acupuncture. What kind should I get for my chronic low back pain?

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with an inherited condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). I’m 23-years old. I’ve been advised to exercise, but I don’t see the point as I’m already in good condition from an active lifestyle. What can you tell me about this?

My 80-year old grandma has become more and more stooped over. What is happening to cause this?

Six years ago, I had a disc herniation. The tests showed it was just protruding from its normal space. There was no pressure on the nearby spinal nerve. Now, I have injured another disk. This time there is protrusion and pressure on the nerve. Will this make a difference in my recovery?

I hurt my back about a week ago. Nothing happened then, but now I am having back pain and leg pain. Could this be caused by the injury from last week?

I saw a science program on back pain caused by disc herniation. Most of the studies were done on rats and dogs. How can this help us understand human injuries?

My 17-year old son was just told that he has a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. The doctor says that regular exercise is important for this disease. What does this mean exactly?

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with an inherited condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). I’m 23-years old. I’ve been advised to exercise, but I don’t see the point as I’m already in good condition from an active lifestyle. What can you tell me about this?

I am a 22 year-old college athlete on my way to play baseball with a farm league. When I was 16, I had spondylolysis. This was treated with a brace and rest. Is there any chance I could get this again?

I hurt my back at work and used up all my sick leave. I feel perfectly fine now but I'm worried the problem might come back. Does this happen very often or am I home free now?

I work on an assembly line placing 20-ounce water bottles in cardboard boxes. When the box is half full, I pick it up and move it to a different conveyor belt. I think the muscles on one side of my spine are getting over developed from this. Is this bad?

Am I more likely to hurt my back while lifting if the weight shifts or if it’s a sudden, unexpected load?

Can the strength of back muscles actually be measured?

It seems with computers and all the advanced technology available, a simple thing like back pain could be cured. What’s the hold up?

I injured my back at work six months ago. After surgery and rehab, I’m back on the job. I’m having trouble with balance and my job requires climbing ladders. Is this connected to my back problems?

I am 59-years old. I've been diagnosed with back pain from progressive disc disease. What changes occur with this progression?

My doctor has recommended an epidural steroid injection for my back pain. What is this?

I’ve heard that steroid injections are bad for you. When is it okay to have one for neck or back pain?

Is there any way to predict whether or not I can return to work if I have a disc removed in my back?

I saw a science program about finding a substitute for bone. What’s wrong with using the real thing? Why do we need a substitute?

I’m a bit of a science buff. After having my spine fused last year, I’ve been following all the studies on spinal fusion. I heard about a new manmade substitute for bone used in fusions. What is this called?

I’ve heard there’s a new device that can help bone regrow after spinal fusion. What can you tell me about this?

As part of a new program, I had an electrical device implanted in my spine. It is supposed to help bone growth after a spinal fusion. The implant won’t be removed unless there’s a problem. Does this seem right?

I know disc replacements have been around for a long time. How come they are so much more popular now?

I'm pretty disappointed. I had an artificial disc replacement and I'm no better than I was before. I still have back pain everyday. I'm still using heavy-duty drugs to control the pain. And I can't move any more than before. Am I a rare bird or is this everyone's experience?

I'm doing a high-school science project on back pain. I read a report that there are at least 37 different causes of back pain. It didn't say what those are. Can you tell me some of them?

I went to a spine center for help with some chronic back pain I've been having. They asked me to fill out a form for some national spine network. I didn't do it because I don't want to get a lot of junk mail. What's the purpose of these surveys anyway?

Why don't more people make use of physical therapists? I've gotten the most help from them than anyone else for my back pain. And I've tried a lot of different people from acupuncturists to massage therapy.

Why don't doctors and chiropractors agree about low back pain? My doctor wants to order an X-ray to see what's wrong. My chiropractor says it won't show anything because it's a soft tissue injury. My doctor wants me to rest and take anti-inflammatory drugs. My chiropractor wants to treat me.

My doctor has labelled me a "chronic" back pain patient. She wants me to go to a pain center for treatment. What makes someone chronic?

Is it true that humans are taller in the morning than we are at night? If so, why?

Yesterday I had a car accident when I was rear-ended at a stop light. I'm wondering if I should still go to the emergency room for a check up?

I've heard there are certain words people use to describe back pain that's really an emotional response to their problem. If I said my pain is "extremely bothersome" would I fall into that group?

I understand different exercises are used if the spine has too much motion versus too little motion. Is it possible to have both problems at the same time?

It seems like surgery can be done with the smallest incision these days. But my neighbor had a spinal fusion and ended up with a long scar along the side of her spine. Was that really necessary?

Why me? Why now? I'm finally pain-free after back surgery two days ago and now my right thigh is numb. Is this normal? Why me??

I am a coach for a high school track team. Ever since last summer I've had some numbness on the front and side of my left thigh. It seems to come and go but it's staying longer now. What could be causing this?

I am in nursing training and have taken a few anatomy classes. I know the nerves from the spinal cord control strength and sensation in the legs. How does a bulging disc pressing on the L5, S1 nerve cause leg weakness around the knees? Are the muscles of the knees controlled by the L2 to L4 nerves?

I just had the muscle strength in my back and legs tested. I was much weaker than I expected. Could the back pain I have off and on cause this or is it something else?

What's the difference between a hypermobile spine and a hypomobile spine? I've been told my upper back is hypermobile and my low back is hypomobile. What does this mean really?

I heard you can get disc replacements now. Are these available for the neck? I have two discs that have to be removed. Maybe I could get them replaced instead.

I've always had excellent health and no back problems. Everyone else at work had back pain but not me. Now I've had some unexpected back pain myself. I'm freaked out that I won't get better. Is there any way to tell who will or won't get over it?

My father had an X-ray and CT scan because of nagging low back pain. The doctor scheduled him for surgery to remove a bulging disc. Next thing we know he's got prostate cancer that's spread to his spine. They found it when they took the disc out. Why wasn't this found sooner?

I had a disc removed from the L4-5 disc space. The bill came back saying they sent it to the lab. That was an extra charge. Is this really necessary? It's just disc material.

What is multi-disciplinary rehab? My doctor wants me to take this kind of treatment for my low back pain. What is it exactly?

Both my mother and my father are in their 80s and have had spinal stenosis. My father had spine fusion surgery for this problem. My mother didn't, and they both seem to have about the same amount of pain and trouble getting around. Is there any research to show that this operation really works?

I am a 32-year old man with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). I've had it since I was 19. Despite medical treatment and ongoing physical therapy, I'm still losing spinal motion. I'm starting to get bent over and can no longer straighten up. When do people with this condition start looking into surgical options?

My husband has had a form of spinal arthritis for the last 10 years. It's called ankylosing spondylitis (AS). I heard an ad on TV for a new group of drugs they are using for rheumatoid arthritis. Would these work for AS?

What is "nonspecific" back pain? That's what the doctor says I have. I can tell where and when it hurts so that seems pretty specific to me.

I'm just finally getting better after having a vertebral compression fracture. I know my osteoporosis is part of the problem. Why was it so very painful? I could hardly straighten up or bend over, either one.

I have a mild case of scoliosis. Will this be a problem for me if I take a job as an assembly-line worker at an auto plant?

My wife had spine surgery to remove a disk. The hospital bill shows she had one day of antibiotics. Is this a mistake? Aren't antibiotics taken for 10 days?

I had a herniated disc removed at L34. Turns out they took the wrong one. How can this happen in today's modern world of technology? I had X-rays and MRIs done and they clearly showed where the problem was.

My husband hurt his back on the job and still hasn't fully recovered. His doctor checked him over and suggested he "stay active." He's supposed to see a physical therapist for a "mini-back school." What does that include?

What's the prognosis these days for spinal cord injuries? One of my aunts was in a car accident and fractured and displaced her spine.

My wife was just diagnosed with a severe vertebral compression fracture. Except for the fact that her pain level is high, what makes for a "severe" vertebral fracture?

My husband is bent over with a spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis. If he has surgery to straighten him up, can they do it all in one operation? Or do they have to straighten him up slowly?

My brother is 33-years old and has had ankylosing spondylitis since he was 16. He can barely stand up straight anymore. He refuses to do the exercises the therapist gave him. Can anything be done for him?

My 73-year old husband has adult diabetes. He's had it about three years now. He's starting to mention back pain with numbness and tingling down his right leg. Could this be part of the diabetes or something else?

As I get older I'm having more aches and pains. For the last two months I've had back and leg pain that doesn't go away. How do I know when I should see a doctor?

I chose to have a spinal fusion using my own bone for the graft. Now I'm wondering if I made a mistake. My back pain is much better but the pain where they took the bone is very painful. Is this common?

When I was in my 40s, I had an injection for a disc problem. It worked great but now more than 20 years later I have back pain again. This time it's from spinal stenosis. Would an injection help?

What is septic arthritis? How does a person get it?

My sister has a special device in her spine to help with severe pain she has from a failed surgery. Now she has to have a second operation because the unit 'migrated.' How does a spinal stimulator migrate?

Two years ago I was diagnosed with CRPS. Nothing I've tried helps with the pain. I'm giving some thought to trying one of those spinal stimulators. What's the success rate of these units?

I'm going to have some testing done to see if I can go back to work. I'm worried that I don't have enough motion for the job I do. Will the therapist really be able to tell?

I went to see a chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain. The treatment was done to the middle of my back and I felt much better. What's the connection?

Our 16-year old son pulled a back muscle running track. The physical therapist who saw him did an adjustment to the rib and he was immediately better. I'm concerned because he's not doing the exercises they gave him. I'm worried the problem will come back.

Years ago I had a chymopapain injection for a ruptured disc. Now I have another disc problem but can't find anyone to do the injection. Why not?

When surgeons use screws to hold the cervical spine after a fracture, how do they see what they are doing to get it in the right place?

My 82-year old mother had spine surgery and a rare complication. She became temporarily paralyzed from a hematoma. What causes this to happen?

My husband was just admitted back into the hospital after back surgery last week. Yesterday he could hardly get out of a chair. This morning, he started losing control of his legs and his bowels. I'm sitting here wondering what will happen now. What can you tell me?

My uncle has a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. He's starting to be so bent over he can't see where he is going. Can't anything be done for this problem?

My mother is 83-years old and constantly complaining of back and foot pain. She says her feet don't exactly hurt but touching them is very uncomfortable. Her symptoms are much better when she sits or lies down. We're worried that inactivity will cause even more problems. What should we do?

I am planning to marry a man who has a medical condition called syringomyelia. Is this something that will get worse over time? What should I expect to happen?

My wife has a condition called syringomyelia. Over the years it has gotten worse and now she has scoliosis, too. She's finally decided to have surgery to fix the problem. Will the scoliosis go away after surgery?

My brother had spine surgery to fuse two bones together. They used a new bone growth protein called BMP. He swelled up so bad, he had to go back to the hospital. Why would they use this BMP stuff if it's going to have such a bad result?

I had a spinal fusion with these new fangled cages that are supposed to dissolve about the time the bone graft heals. Just about how long does it really take for the body to absorb this device?

I'm 32-years old and have had scoliosis since I was 12. I did exercises and wore a brace all through high school. Once I stopped growing, I stopped doing anything. As I get older, I notice my back bothers me more. Would a brace help me now?

I have a bad lower back and so does a friend of mine. Her doctor is suggesting surgery, but my doctor says I don't need it. Why the difference in opinion?

I hurt my back a long time ago and every time I think it's better, it starts to hurt again. What can I do to keep this from happening?

Can you tell me what is Castleman disease and what causes it?

What is Schwannoma? My adult daughter who lives in Germany just emailed me that she was diagnosed with this problem.

For six months I have faithfully followed an exercise program trying to avoid back surgery. But my sciatica is worse if anything. How can I get over the feeling that by having surgery I have failed?

I know I have a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. I'm interested in keeping track of my progress. What can I do to tell for sure if I'm getting better or worse?

Our 16-year old son has been complaining about being stiff in the morning. He frequently says his back hurts. His grandfather had a condition called anylosing spondylitis. Is it possible this is what's going on?

About six years ago, I had a steroid injection in my back that worked like a charm. Now that I'm having the same kind of neck pain (goes down my arm), I'm wondering if this could be done to my neck?

My father fell from a ladder last week and broke his back in two places. He doesn't want to have surgery and insists he will be fine. What will happen if he refuses treatment?

What happens with compression fractures in the back and do they have to be treated?

I've heard of new treatments for compression fractures in the back, something about injections. What are some of the side effects or problems associated with the treatment?

My father just had an operation called a vertebroplasty for a fractured vertebra. After the doctor explained this procedure, I wondered why they can't put this cement in Dad's other weak bones and prevent another fracture from happening. Can this be done?

I had a discectomy three years ago. An MRI shows everything looks fine back there. The surgeon thinks I may have developed some scar tissue that doesn't show up on an MRI. Would surgery to clean out the scar tissue help relieve my pain?

I have a large herniated disc that hasn't gotten better with conservative care. It looks like surgery is the next step. I'm just starting to check it out. I've heard the new minimally invasive spine surgeries are really the way to go. Is it worth traveling somewhere to get this?

Why are some cancers called sarcomas?

What are the signs of bone cancer?

My daughter has had a few schwannomas removed. What exactly are they and how can the doctors tell that they aren't more serious than they are?

My husband was diagnosed with an acoustic schwannoma, but another doctor used another name. What is it and what does it mean if they use different names?

I'm going to have a second back surgery next month. The first one was a spinal fusion at L45. Now I'm having a second fusion. But I'm considerably older now than when I had the first fusion done. My bones are more brittle so I'm not sure using the same kind of bone graft (from my hip) will work. Are there any other ways to do this?

I had a failed spinal fusion. We used bone graft from a donor bank. Why didn't it work?

I've always been told it's a good thing to stand up straight like a soldier. But I find myself much more comfortable in a slight slouch. Does it really matter if my shoulders are pulled back and my chin is pulled in?

When I'm at the health club working out, I often see people hanging straight out over the edge of a table for as long as they can. What does this exercise do?

My doctor prescribed a drug for my nerve pain that seems to be helping. But I'm also starting to get other symptoms I didn't have before. Some of these are as annoying as the pain. What can I do about this?

My father has some kind of neurodegenerative disorder that's very painful. The doctors say the nerve cells are turned on and got stuck in the on position. If they can be turned on, why can't they be turned off?

I saw a special on TV where they are using tiny staples implanted in painful points to help people with chronic neck or back pain. How long do they have to keep the staples in? Do they stay forever? Fall out on their own?

My cousin just had a spinal fusion. The surgeon used a titanium cage put in between the bones to help hold it up. When I had this operation 10 years ago, they used bone graft from my hip. What else is new these days?

I went with my husband to the surgeon who is going to do a spinal fusion on him. They are going to use bone from along the back of his pelvic bone for the graft. We had to sign a lot of papers telling us over and over that the donor site could cause problems. Is this really such a big problem? Should we find a different surgeon?

Last year I had a disc removed and a spinal fusion done. Last month I slipped and fell at the grocery store. There is a fracture in the spine that just isn't healing. The surgeon wants to do a fusion. The last fusion I had hurt so much, I vowed I would never do it again. But now this fracture hurts so much I'm considering it again. What should I expect?

The last time I had back pain, I heard the doctor use the term "conservative treatment." What does that mean?

I'm in a tizzy. I just found out that a rod used to fuse my spine for scoliosis when I was a teenager is broken. What will happen? Will I need more surgery?

I went in for a routine chest X-ray and found out I have three vertebral fractures. I didn't even know I had them. How is that possible? I don't really have a high tolerance for pain.

I just got a phone call from my brother saying that Mother is in the hospital. Surgery is planned for a pathological fracture of her spine. What kind of a fracture is that? What kind of surgery is done?

I've been in industry for 40 years now. It used to be if you got hurt, you stayed on the job no matter what. Then for a long time, people just retired early on disability. Now I see workers are coming back to work again after an injury. What controls these swings back and forth?

My husband had spine surgery that was pretty complicated. I guess they used a new kind of bone graft substitute. He evidently needed more bone than he could donate to himself. What does this stuff look like? Is it a patch or what?

My mother-in-law is insisting that she wants surgery to fuse her spine in a straight position. Mom has always had a mild case of scoliosis. It seems to be getting worse as she gets older. What do you recommend?

Dad has been in a steady decline these last few years. His back really seems to be getting worse and worse. Would a brace of some kind help keep him straight? He's started to get more and more twisted.

I was thinking about having an artificial disc put into my neck. But now I hear the Chinese have perfected the human transplant of disc material. Would I be eligible for the transplantation instead of an artificial replacement?

I heard a special report that they can do disc transplantation now. I just had a artificial disc replacement. I was told if it doesn't hold or doesn't work for any reason, there are still some treatment options left. What if the donated disc dies? What happens then?

I hurt my back at work and haven't been able to recover as fast as I had hoped. It's been four days and I'm still laid up. Usually I'm better after the first 24 to 48 hours. I've been popping aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen but nothing helps. Should I ask my doc for a narcotic?

I overheard the physical therapists at our hospital saying they can tell which back and neck patients will get better and who won't. Is this really possible?

I took a pre-operative tour at the hospital this morning in preparation for my upcoming spine surgery. The neurosurgeon is planning to use a special virtual machine to guide the screw placement. Is this new fangled technology really safe?

I just came back from my follow-up visit with the neurosurgeon who put my spine back together after a bad accident. There are 12 screws holding my vertebrae together. Some of the screws look like they are poking out of the bone. Should I be concerned? Will this cause problems later on?

My doctor showed me the little titanium cage that will be inserted when my disc is taken out. There were at least three different sizes and shapes of cages. One was tall and thin. The other was short and more like a ring. Why are they so different?

My doctor wants me to try a feedback program to help get my muscles working properly. This might help me with my back pain. How does it work?

I've been learning core stabilization exercises for my back. It's supposed to help reduce my back pain. Each exercise starts with me sucking in my stomach but without holding my breath. What's the point of this exercise? How does it work?

Can you tell me what's a dynamic X-ray of the spine? My doctor wants me to have one but I've never heard of that kind.

Should I ask my doctor for X-rays of my spine? I've had back pain now for six months and it's not getting any better.

I had some spine surgery that required using bone from my hip. I'm having so much pain from that part of the operation. I never imagined it would be so bad. Is this a common problem?

When a bone graft substitute is used, how does it work? Is it faster than when they use donor bone? Is it safer?

I have heard about disc replacements. What are some of the problems associated with them?

I have to do a lot of sitting on my job. I cannot afford an expensive ergonomic chair. Are there any other options?

Even though we live in a very rural area, our local university is doing some research that may help with my husband's spine surgery. He has a very complex problem. The engineers have developed some kind of model that takes his CT scans and turns them into a 3-D model of his spine. Will the average person ever be able to benefit from something like this?

What is the difference between scoliosis and kyphosis? They both cause the spine to curve, right?

It seems logical that it would make more sense to do two surgeries at the same time, so why is that only being studied recently in terms of people with scoliosis and other back issues?

When doctors decide what type of back surgery to do, does cost play a role? For example, my mother was going to have surgery and was told she could either have her spine fused or a disc replaced in her back, depending on what the doctor ultimately decided.

How does a surgeon decide if back surgery needs a disc replacement or fusion of the discs?

My doctor has sent me to a physical therapist to work on improving my spinal mobility. Just what is spinal mobility?

I'm a nurse working with a group of health care professionals in a pain clinic. Most of our patients have chronic back pain. We've been asked to put together a good way to measure results before and after treatment. I have two standard tests I'd like to use. Is there a certain amount of change we should use to signify a positive (or negative) response to treatment?

What is metallosis? My stepmother had this after spinal fusion surgery. She had to have a second operation. I live out of town and no one in the family seemed to know what this was except that it caused a reaction to the implant.

My wife had a laminectomy to take pressure off a herniated disc. Afterwards she got a terrible infection along the incision. We suspect the bug came from the hospital. Could anything have been done to keep this from happening?

My mother is in the hospital with an infection that developed about a week after her spine surgery. We are trying to make plans for where she should go after she's discharged. What can we expect to happen with treatment? How soon can she get out of the hospital?

What is a subtotal discectomy and how is it different from a microdiscectomy?

I've been told that even if I have a herniated disc removed, it can herniate again. How is that possible?

I've used NSAIDs off and on for my arthritis with pretty good results. If I have surgery to remove a herniated disc, can I take my unused prescription for pain after surgery?

How exactly is spinal manipulation done?

I'm applying for a job at a warehouse as a forklift operator. A couple years ago, I hurt my back on a different job. What can I do in this new job to keep from getting hurt again?

I always used to exercise and my back is very painful now. My doctor says to cut back on my exercise to allow my back to heal, but I hate being still.

If back injuries and back pain are so common, why doesn't the medical community do more to educate the public?

I was scheduled to have a spinal fusion. Then I got a call from my surgeon's office. Now I'm supposed to have a full-scale psych exam. Is this standard or does the doctor suspect I'm off my rocker?

What's the difference between a microdiscectomy and a sequestrectomy? I've never heard of either, but my surgeon has offered me one or the other to treat my herniated disc.

My father had three spine surgeries that failed. Now he's in terrible pain and very deconditioned. The family wants him to get into some kind of exercise program but his doctor is steering him to a psychologist. Is there any proof that psychologic counseling will help him cope with his situation? Wouldn't it be better to get him up on his feet and moving?

I saw a before and after MRI of my herniated disc. The surgery I had was a nucleoplasty where the surgeon just took out the middle of the disc. But the after picture showed there was still a protrusion of the disc in the same place as before. Fortunately, my symptoms were improved. How do you explain this?

I'm going to have some back surgery that involves a special monitoring system. There will be electrodes measuring my muscle function to make sure I don't get paralyzed. Are there any side effects from the monitoring?

When a doctor does an epidural steroid injection in my back for back pain, what is being injected? My doctor is suggesting I have this done but I thought steroids were bad for you.

Are there any side effects to having an epidural steroid injection in my back?

My husband had surgery to remove a tumor in his spinal cord. He was having trouble moving his legs before the operation. Now he's partially paralyzed. We know this would have happened anyway if the tumor kept growing. Is there a chance he'll get back to where he was just before the operation?

I'm going to have an operation to remove a tumor that's wrapped around my spinal cord. There's a chance I could end up paralyzed. How soon would I know if this is going to happen?

My shoulder has been hurting me for a long time but I'm not sure what to do about it or what it could be. I haven't hurt myself by falling or anything. Can a doctor do anything anyway?

I just started working in an orthopedic clinic with patients who have had car accidents. Most of them have some kind of neck or back pain. They are supposed to fill out a survey with information about their health. There are questions about alcohol and other drug use. We also ask about previous number of car accidents and past history of neck or back pain. Is there any way to tell if the information is really accurate? It seems like this would be important information to have when planning our treatment protocol.

My brother was involved in a car accident last year. There's a lawsuit pending, so I don't think he's being entirely honest about his situation. Can people really get away with withholding information about their previous accidents and drinking habits?

How old is the specialty of spinal care and how has it changed?

I retired last year after a long and happy career with the U.S. Forest Service. I've been surprised that my neck and back pain haven't gone away. I always assumed it was related to my job lifting and hauling wood products and heavy loads. Why do I still have back pain if I'm not working?

I'd like to see the best expert for acupuncture to treat my low back pain. I've already tried manipulation with a chiropractor. It didn't really seem to help that much. How do I figure out who the expert is? In our community, we have a board certified anesthesiologist who also does acupuncture and the chiropractor I've been seeing who has experience in acupuncture.

Why is the back so vulnerable to being hurt?

Is it really true that spinal fractures can be treated without surgery? That's the report we heard on our mother's recent fall and fracture. Does it just heal on its own?

We are trying to take care of my mother-in-law in our home now. She has two collapsed bones in her spine that are causing her a lot of pain. Is there anything we can do to help make her more comfortable?

I've heard that the new balloon treatment for spine fractures can cause heart attacks. Thank goodness this didn't happen when I had mine done last year. But if I should ever need this treatment again, what should I watch out for?

I heard on the news about a bunch of different guys who fell out of a tree stand while hunting and ended up paralyzed. How in the world does something like this happen?

I hurt my back at work and now I'm supposed to see a doctor. I don't really have a regular doctor. When it comes to finding the right back doctor, what should I really look for?

I am a regional manager for a large department store. We have many employees who hurt their backs on the job. Not very many of them seem to rehab and come back to us. This means we have to train new people and that takes time and money. Is this fairly typical in the work industry?

Several years ago, I had a spinal fracture that was treated with something like super glue. Now I need a spinal fusion. The surgeon explained how they will use bone graft from my hip to fuse the two bones together. There may be some problems at the donor site. Why can't they use the same cement to fuse the spine that they used to fix the fracture?

A magnetic resonance imaging study shows that I have a gas-filled cyst in my spine. What causes them?

A magnetic resonance imaging study shows that I have a gas-filled cyst in my spine. My doctor now wants to do a computed tomography scan with myelography, and a discography. Are these really necessary?

Can you tell me what is a flexion-distraction injury of the spine? We just got word that my brother is in the operating room right now with this problem as a result of a car accident.

What is "failed back surgery syndrome"? I think I may have it.

I had back surgery to remove some damaged discs and fuse my spine at L45. At the time, I was living in Colorado. Now I've moved to California to be with my adult children. The back pain never really went away. My kids have insisted that I see a doctor here for the problem. But the primary care physician doesn't seem to have any answers either. Should I keep looking?

I've been told that steroid injection into my spinal joints could help relieve me of some of my back pain. I'm not really in favor of it. My husband says it can't hurt and maybe it will help. What do you think?

My orthotist is helping fashion a brace for me following spinal fusion surgery for adult scoliosis. It will be a plastic TLSO. Are there any special tricks or tips I should show/tell him?

My 72-year old father was told he has "mixed" type of spinal stenosis. I think I understand what stenosis is. What does the mixed part mean?

I am a healthy and active senior (age 70-something). My doctor tells me I have degenerative scoliosis. I'm not going to let this get me down. Please tell me what I can do to stay in good health.

When I was a teenager, I had scoliosis. Now my mother at age 68 has developed scoliosis. I don't remember having any pain with this condition. But she complains all the time that her back and leg hurts her. Why is there so much pain for her?

There's a chance that I have a cancerous spinal tumor. The medical facility here doesn't have a way to biopsy this safely. My oncologist wants me to go to a larger cancer center to have this done. What sort of equipment is needed for this procedure?

After months of leg weakness but no pain, my orthopedic surgeon referred me to a special clinic for further testing. They found a tumor in my spine. But when they did the biopsy, the report came back as negative (normal). They didn't find anything. I'm still a bit worried. What if there really is something there and they missed it?

What seems to be the main causes of subsequent fracture after percutaneous vertebroplasty?

Is it possible to recover from total subluxation of the spinal column?

How can the spinal column have a one hundred percent subluxation?

How often does vertebral compression fracure happen?

My mother's doctor seems like he's giving up on her. My mother had back surgery and because she was depressed and frustrated from her pain, she didn't go to too many physical therapy appointments. Her back isn't much better and the doctor more or less told her if she didn't go for physical therapy, she couldn't expect much more from him. That doesn't seem very fair.

Why does physical therapy after surgery hurt so much? Can't it cause more damage? I had back surgery and it hurts to go through my exercises.

My sister had a spinal fusion back a few weeks ago. She said they used graft extenders because it was a long fusion and she didn't have enough bone of her own. Could I have donated bone for her?

I had a long spinal fusion about six months ago. They took X-rays last week that didn't really show the fusion site clearly. Should I go some place else and have them taken again?

I've heard of scoliosis in kids, but not in older adults. My mother was just diagnosed with this problem. How come it's developing all of a sudden in a 70-year old woman?

My husband had a chest X-ray and discovered he has severe scoliosis. Evidently that's what's been causing his back and leg pain all these months. What's the best treatment for this in an older adult? Do they use bracing like with children?

Can anything go wrong with having cement injected into your back for disc problems?

All the research that goes into medicine, such as treating chronic pain, seems to result in costly treatments. Do the researchers ever take into consideration how much a treatment will cost before getting people's hopes up?

Every time I see a new doctor and I mention my back pain, he or she asks me about my lifestyle. I mean, I know that if I lift a lot of stuff, my back might hurt, but what has how much I sleep, smoke or drink have anything to do with it? Sometimes I'm even asked if I have diabetes.

My company won't invest in an ergonomic chair but I'm afraid that if I don't get one, my back will start hurting after a while.

If an abnormality in your body doesn't cause any problems, why spend time diagnosing it? Or even researching it? My brother had to have a back x-ray for a problem and his doctor told him that he had butterfly vertebrae but that's not causing the pain. So?

I just learned of butterfly vertebrae and I was wondering how this happens.

With so many different types of approaches to spinal surgery, how do doctors know which one is best for which patients?

I have to have back surgery, but I'm afraid about how long it will take to recover from it. Should I have it?

Why are there so many names for disc injuries in the back? I've heard the terms herniated disc, slipped disc, and bulging disc - but they all mean the same thing, right?

I'm sending you this question on behalf of my mom who is laid up in bed with a burst fracture of her spine. She can't sit up and use her laptop, so I'm typing her question. How long does it take to heal from this type of injury?

Ok, they can do hip, knee, shoulder replacements. If someone has severe back pain because the vertebrae can't hold up any longer, why can't they do vertebrae replacements?

My mother has spinal stenosis and her doctor wants to operate. I am against it because I know that if anything happens to her back in surgery, she may be worse off than she was before. What should I say to her?

I'm confused. I have a slipped disc in my back and I don't know if I want to have surgery. What are the risks of back surgery?

What should I ask a doctor if I'm trying to find out more about him and his ability to do surgery on my back?

If someone has pressure on the nerves in the spine, can they be permanently damaged?

My sister has chronic headaches that seem to be connected with neck and shoulder muscle tension. She's going to try something called trigger point injections. What are these? How do they work?

What's the difference between acupuncture and trigger point therapy? I've had both for chronic neck and back pain. I can't see that they are any different in how the treatment is done or the effects.

I went with my sister to the hospital after we had a bad car accident together. I don't know why, but it was clear to me that she wasn't telling everything she knew. For instance, they asked if she had ever been treated for neck or back pain before. She said no even though I know she is currently seeing a chiropractor and a physical therapist. Why don't people tell the truth about these things?

I almost had surgery on the wrong side for a bad disc. But my surgeon took the time to review the MRIs right before the operation and saw that there was an error in the original reading. Does this happen very often?

I'm going to have a spinal fusion in the next couple of months. I'm waiting for my daughter to have her baby first and then I'll take the rest of my vacation time to have the surgery. If I'm going to ask for time off from work, should I take a few extra weeks to rest up before the operation?

I'm going to have a spinal fusion with BMP instead of using my own bone for the graft. Are there any side effects from these bone graft substitutes?

When I had cancer, they talked about being cured and remission. This year, I've had a series of episodes with back pain that's not related to my past history of cancer. But I never hear the doctor say anything about remission or cure. Is there such a thing with back pain?

Is it true that an implant for pain control requires surgery every year to replace the battery? I don't want to get into that! Isn't it possible in today's advanced technologic world to somehow recharge the batteries and avoid unnecessary surgery?

I'm trying not to overly obsess about my upcoming spinal fusion surgery. But I do want to be prepared for any possibility afterwards. The surgeon's nurse gave me a list of potential problems that could develop like heart attack, blood clot, or poor wound healing. They assured me that these are uncommon and not to worry. But are there other possible (more serious) complications that I should watch for?

When I told my doctor 'no surgery' for my aching back, he suggested I at least talk to a surgeon about some of the minimally invasive procedures that are available now. He called these mini-operations 'interventional'. But I really don't know what I'm asking about. Can you help me out here with at least a description I can take with me so I know what to say?

My 77-year-old mother just suffered her third vertebral compression fracture. She's starting to get more and more hunched over. The back brace they gave her after the second fracture is impossible to get on her. She's not in any great pain but she's uncomfortable and really slowing down. Isn't there anything else that can be done for this condition?

My doctor has given me two separate options for the treatment of a compression fracture in my spine. I can have antiinflammatories, a back brace, and some exercises. Eventually, the back will heal and I'll be all right. Or I could have day surgery to put some cement in there to hold it together while it heals. This time next year the end-results will be the same. But the cement treatment could get me back on my feet faster. Is it worth the money?

I'm debating between using donor bone material for a neck fusion and my own bone. I've heard that bone bank grafts aren't alive, so I should use my own bone. But I've been told to be prepared for more problems from the donor site than at the actual fusion. Is all this true?

What is pseudarthrosis? The surgeon tells me this is what is causing my back pain after I had spinal fusion surgery. I thought my pain was going to be better but instead it's worse and pseudarthrosis is the reason why.

I am scheduled for a spinal fusion in two weeks. As part of the preliminary work-up, my surgeon ordered bone scans and blood tests to look for osteoporosis. I'm worried now that if it turns out I have osteoporosis they won't do the surgery. Is that possible?

What's a graded functional rehab program for a spine fracture? That's what I'm headed for in the next few weeks. I kind of wanted to know what I'm getting into with this.

I just came back from a preop visit with a nurse from the surgery center where I am scheduled for back surgery later this week. It's supposed to be a simple decompression technique. They say I'll get antibiotics right before the operation in case of infection. How well does this work and how often do infections occur? I'm thinking about cancelling the surgery. The last thing I need right now is another medical problem.

My father is scheduled to have a spinal fusion operation next week. He seems to be in fairly good health, but we are concerned that this could end up a disaster. We've seen so many other older adults have some type of surgery and never fully recover to their former selves. We'd hate to see that with Dad. How can we even evaluate something like this?

Is it safe to accept bone from someone else for a spinal fusion? And why can't a family member donate his or her bone like blood donations?

My surgeon carefully went over each step of the spinal fusion procedure I am going to have next week. I will have bone from a bone bank grafted in to help with the fusion. I have osteoporosis myself and can't donate my own bone. I did hear something about the risk of infection but the information was all so new and flew right past me. Is the infection from the bone graft because it's donated bone or does it develop from something else?

My 72-year-old father had surgery to remove some cysts from inside his spine. The pathology report just came in the mail today. It described them as synovial cysts with intraligamentous bursal communicating channels connected to the facet joint at the L3-4 level. Evidently, they were taking up space inside the spinal canal putting pressure on the nerves and causing a heck of a lot of back and leg pain. What are these cysts and what causes them?

I'm doing a little research on a problem I've developed over the years called spinal stenosis. I've had X-rays and MRIs and they could find nothing to account for my back and leg pain. I finally had exploratory surgery. Lo and behold they discovered cysts had formed inside the ligament inside my spinal canal. Once they took them out, I was perfectly fine. Is this a common problem? What are my chances that I'll form more of these pesky beasts?

I understand that a disc replacement is a better option than a fusion because it saves the motion in the spine. But if I have a disc replacement, do I get my full motion back? I'm not sure how much motion I have now. I'm hardly moving at all because there's so much pain.

I hurt my back at work several weeks ago and every time I think it's getting better and make plans to go back to work, my back gets worse. My boss wants me to go back but I'm afraid that I will just hurt my back again or worse. How can I convince him that I'm not ready?

I'm very disappointed because I was hoping for a nerve block in my back to stop the constant back and leg pain I have. But the X-rays came back and I'm not a good candidate for the procedure. What does that mean? What makes me unacceptable for this treatment?

I had a nerve block last year that was supposed to put a stop to my chronic back and leg pain. The procedure itself was very painful. But once the nerve was numb, I felt much better. Now I need another injection. The surgeon is going to use ultrasound to guide the needle. This is supposed to be a pain free process. Is it really?

I've been seeing a physical therapist recommended to me because she is trained in the McKenzie technique. I went on-line and read in Wikipedia about the fellow who started this method. But I couldn't really find any place that explained why this method works any better than other approaches.

I heard a talk at our hospital about why we are moving more toward using bone graft substitutes. I'm just a nurses aid on the orthopedic floor, so I really didn't understand it all. They said these new substitutes are inductive and conductive. After that they lost me. What does that mean? And why is it better than using your own bone?

My Dad had back surgery about six months ago. He's about 62-years old. He complained mightily about back pain that went down his leg. The surgeon removed a disk that had gone bad and was pressing on a nerve. His leg pain went away but the back pain is still there. In fact, Dad thinks his pain is worse but we think he's way better. He can do more. He sleeps better. He isn't limping. Is he just looking for sympathy or what? We can't figure it out.

I've been tracking my own progress from before to after surgery for chronic back pain. I hurt myself at work, so I'm on Worker's Comp. But I fully intend to get back on the job, so I don't want to be labeled as a shirker. But I have noticed something about myself I can't quite figure out. I am better after the surgery but I'm less satisfied because I'm not completely better. Am I just finding excuses not to go back to work? I don't want to believe that about myself but maybe that's why I feel worse than I am. This seems like such a muddle.

How do doctors know what type of screws to put into someone's back to fix the vertebrae?

Where is the cervical spine? What part of the back is that?

I live in a medium-sized town with two hospitals. One of the hospitals has a pain clinic to help people like me with chronic pain from a back injury. I'm wondering if I went to a larger center would I get more up-to-date treatment? Is it worth looking into?

Why can't the doctors find out what's wrong with my back? Despite all the tests, everything seems normal. I'm not a big baby and I'm not a faker. I am having severe, constant pain and I'm not using it to get attention. I am very frustrated!

I've been using a programmable pump for pain control that shoots the drug right into the spinal canal for direct delivery to the brain. It's almost time to replace it with a new unit. My question is: should I go with the same type of unit since it's working well? Or should I try one of the newer pumps? I heard they are more user friendly.

I just signed a form allowing my surgeon to X-ray me as needed during a spinal fusion surgery I'm going to have next week. But I'm having second thoughts. I've been eating very healthy including organic foods to prepare for this operation. I'm trying to limit how many toxins my body is exposed to -- having an unlimited number of X-rays just seems like a bad idea. What do you think?

I confess I am addicted to the Internet. When I get home from work, I am on-line until the wee hours of the morning. I do worry about my back from sitting so much. My regular day job requires me to be in good health and I can't afford a back problem. What can I do to protect myself?

I went in for a simple discectomy and ended up with complications I hadn't expected. Evidently the wrong disc got poked during the test run. So now I have one disc that was removed and another one that's been stuck with a needle. Will the healthy disc that was poked heal up okay?

I am helping my aging mother who is going to have spine surgery. In the course of getting her ready, they must have gone over the potential side effects (if something goes wrong) a half dozen times. They especially wanted her to know about how there could be a tear to the lining of her spine and leakage of fluid. Do they think she can't understand just because she's older? Her hearing and mental capacities are perfectly fine and it seems obvious to me that she is "with it" enough to get it the first time.

My wife is having surgery right now to repair a hole in the lining of her spinal cord. They tell me she will have to lie still after surgery for a while to let it heal. But no one has said what that really means -- are we talking an hour? a day? a week? What should I expect?

Can a person inherit Schmorl's nodes in the spine? My adult children (one son, one daughter) and I all have these on X-rays.

Mother has a significant drinking problem she thinks we don't know about. She's planning to have some spinal surgery to correct a severe scoliosis she's had since childhood. Should we say something to the surgeon about this?

Have you ever heard of someone going blind from spine surgery? We have a friend this happened to and don't understand what went wrong.

I saw a special on TV about robotic surgeries and even monitoring spinal cord function remotely by computer. Is it really safe to have someone checking my vital signs and leg function from a computer somewhere else? What if the computer goes haywire or the Internet is down?

When I have a tumor removed from my spine, the surgeon is going to use a special monitoring device to make sure my brain and spinal cord are still working and I don't lose control of my legs. How does the surgeon do the operation and monitor me at the same time?

Have you ever heard of using something called calcitonin for a spine fracture? Mother is in the hospital with two compression fractures in her spine. The hospitalist is using this to treat the problem but we've never heard of it before. What is it and how does it work?

In our rehabilitation facility, we use the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) to measure before and after results of treatment. I've been thinking that if the final goal is to get workers back on-the-job, is the ODI really the best tool to use for this particular outcome measure? Have you seen any studies on this?

I've been out of work with a work-related injury for six months. I've heard that if I'm not back in four months, I probably won't make it. My family depends on my income and I have every intention of getting back on the line. But I can't help but wonder if these statistics are true?

I took my father in for an appointment with the spinal surgeon. Dad has two compression fractures in his mid-back area. The physician's assistant showed us how they will insert a needle into the bone, puff up the area with a balloon, and then inject cement. She mentioned something about only doing it from one side being a better way to go. That went by me completely. What was she talking about?

My wife has been a chronic pain sufferer for 30 years. She has held up admirably under excruciating back pain -- more than I could have handled. But as the years go by with no relief, I'm starting to worry about her state of mind. I wonder if she's considering suicide. What can I do to help at this point?

My head is spinning. The spine surgeon I'm planning on having my back surgery with just went over all the terrible things that could happen during surgery. Although I heard her say the risk is extremely low, I'm freaked enough to cancel it all together. Am I overreacting? Why would she tell me all those things if they aren't going to happen to me?

I was one of the first people to get a spinal fusion using the new bone material called BMP. Now I hear that stuff can give you cancer. What can you tell me about this?

Is it true you can go sterile after having a spinal fusion? I had one of those 10 years ago and now I'm hearing this. I'm really past my prime and don't have any plans to make a future "mini-me" but a guy likes to keep his options open.

I'm watching the reports on several major league baseball pitchers who are in treatment for neck and back disc herniations. What's the prognosis for these guys?

I saw a special on TV about six months ago showing how they are trying gene therapy for bad disc disease. I would be really interested in being part of these studies -- even if only as a human guinea pig. How do I sign up?

What's the status of stem cells for disc disease? For awhile I was tracking the progress of this treatment in hopes I might qualify for it myself. But I ended up having surgery to remove the offending disc. But I'm still interested in the stem cell research.

My 83-year-old mother has started to develop scoliosis. Is it because she has osteoporosis? No one seems to know why this is happening to her.

I'm 77-years young and expect to live to be 100+. But I do have osteoporosis and a spinal curvature that's causing considerable pain. My surgeon has recommended a spinal fusion to stabilize the spinal curve. Is it safe to do this kind of surgery on a spine that is osteoporotic?

I am going to have spinal fusion surgery next week. The surgeon wants to use some bone growth to help me heal faster. I'm all for that but is there anything I should know about this stuff before signing the agreement form?

My wife is having a cement injected into her broken back bone (compression fracture). The surgeon's assistant went over all the possible complications from infection to death. I asked her what the rate of the more serious complications is and she didn't really know. Do you?

My 88-year-old mother just suffered her first vertebral compression fracture. We are new to all this so we looked at your Patient Guide to Spinal Compression Fractures. But we have a few more questions. Mom's fracture is at the T5 level. The surgeon mentioned this was "unusual." What is more typical? Does it matter what level is affected?

I am on round six of possible treatments for failed back surgery syndrome. The pain clinic where I'm getting treated has suggested trying a spinal cord stimulator. Is it really worth the effort and cost to go this route?

I live in North Dakota and was considering going to Canada for spinal surgery. I've been told they have a better track record with fewer problems than American doctors. Then I heard a report on the radio saying that according to a new study, Canada has more complications and problems during and after spinal surgeries than anyone ever knew. What can you tell me about this?

I am a cancer survivor facing spinal surgery for metastases to the spine. Before I head into this, I want to compare thes surgery with all its risks and complications versus not having surgery and taking my chances with the cancer spreading. I think I have a pretty good idea about the cancer side of things. What can you tell me about the risks involved with the surgery?

Please help me out here. I'm seeing a physical therapist for neck pain following a terrible car accident I had three months ago. She tries to tell me some of my pain is coming from fear of movement. She says, "motion is lotion" meaning I have to move more. I tell her that the reason I can't move more is because it hurts. We don't seem to be getting through to each other. What do you suggest?

When it comes to healthcare, as a primary care physician, I follow the news closely. When Medicare saw there was an overutilization of spinal procedures, the response was to pay closer attention to claims submitted. They also cut reimbursement for these procedures. Shouldn't the same policies be instituted for private insurance? In the meantime, should I advise my patients to skip spinal injections recommended by other physicians when research doesn't show this treatment is effective?

I am a hospital administrator who has recently switched from a VA hospital to a nonprofit acute care hospital. When I was at the VA there was an investigation into the overuse of spinal injection procedures. As a result, there were big cuts in reimbursement and stricter guidelines for that treatment. Now that I'm in the private sector, I thought it would be a good idea to see if similar problems are occurring here. Have there been any reports about this that you know of?

I was going to have a spinal fusion but the surgeon placed me in the morbidly obese category with too many risks for surgery. I'd like to know two things: where is the cut off in terms of weight between obese and morbid obesity? (I had never heard that term). And am I being discriminated against because of my size?

I am from Hawaii -- I guess they call us Pacific Islanders for purposes of tracking race/ethnicity. I'm going to travel to California to have a cervical fusion done. Many people from the islands go there for major medical care. Do you think I need to find someone who specializes in surgery on Hawaiians (or should I say Pacific Islanders?).

I am the newly appointed hospital administrator of a small, rural community. We are the only hospital in this area and draw patients from over 300 miles away. Sometimes I see you report on how other health care facilities are working to improve things. So I'm trolling for information to find out what might be out there to help me reduce costs within our organization.

Dad had surgery two months ago for a spinal fusion that turned out to be a big mess. Now the hospital where he stayed is trying to say that the fact that he has high blood pressure and is overweight is the reason he had problems. It looks to us like it was more a matter of poor care while in the hospital. I can name off a list for you. The question is: in cases like this -- what's the patient's responsibility and when should the hospital pony up and help pay some of the added costs of problems that develop after surgery?

I just came back from the surgeon's office. I was told "no surgery" (I need a spinal fusion) until I lose 50 pounds and stop smoking. But if I could have the surgery and stop having so much pain, then I could get more active and lose weight. I feel like I've been gut-punched with my hands tied. Is there any way I could convince this doctor to let me take the risk and just have the surgery then get the weight off?

I've heard that spinal fusion surgery is simple, effective, and low risk. But my mother just had this procedure and then had a stroke two weeks later. Why was she allowed to even have this surgery if there was a risk of a stroke?

I've heard that bone substitute products used in spinal fusions can cause cancer. Is that true? I had such a procedure done two years ago and now I'm concerned. It's not like when they recall cars with faulty parts. This stuff is a permanent feature in my back.

Is there any advantage to using the new BMP bone graft substitute other than personal comfort? It costs at least $5,000 more. I'm inclined to take my chances with donating my own bone graft and saving the money. What do you think?

I kind of hate to ask this question but it is really on my mind so here goes. My twin brother just returned from his third tour of duty over in Afghanistan. This time he came back with a blast injury to the spine and some serious damage. They brought him home in a "flying hospital" and tell us he got the best of care. I still can't help but wonder if all the problems he developed (infections, blood clots, nerve damage) wouldn't have happened if this type of injury was treated stateside. Is there any way to even compare this or figure it out?

I hope you will post my question anonymously because I don't want to be seen as crying over spilt milk. But our 20-year-old son was wounded in Iraq while walking alongside an armored vehicle (with other American soldiers inside). Only the soldiers on the ground were wounded. Everyone else inside the vehicles were safe. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. Why don't the military doctors put a stop to this? The amount of personal devastation (not to mention expense of care for the taxpayer) is astronomical.

My brother came back from Iraq in a wheelchair no longer able to use the lower half of his body. They say he had a "penetrating spinal cord injury." What is that exactly? Will he ever get the use of his legs back?

I am writing this as a nurse who has just come back from Operation Enduring Freedom where I worked on the battlefield with some amazing surgeons and flight nurses. I think the American people need to know that many, many surgeons, physicians, nurses, and physical therapists are working around the clock to help save the lives of wounded soldiers in this ongoing War on Terror. There isn't enough said to support these unsung heroes.

Could you please settle an argument for me and my wife? She says because I am so fat, the metal plates and screws in my low back won't set off the airport security alarms. I'm not so sure. This will be my first time through. Should I take precautions and carry my X-rays with me?

My wife and I are taking our first trip ever to Hawaii to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Two years ago, I was in a car accident that left me with multiple spine fractures. After six surgeries, I have metal plates, rods, and screws up and down my spine. My friends have warned me to get a letter from my doctor in order to get through airport security. The surgeon says the implants I have won't set off the alarms. What do you think?

I saw in the newspaper that a doctor was sued for "inappropriate use of a bone graft sponge." I have had a spinal fusion and my surgeon used a BMP sponge. What would be an inappropriate use of something like this?

Should I go ahead and agree to let the surgeon use the special bone growth sponges available now for my spinal fusion? After reading the list of all the things that can go wrong, I'm not so sure it's a good idea.

Our company is going to move us away from sitting at desks more toward a standing station. This is supposed to help us reduce our work stress and hopefully reduce absenteeism due to back problems. Do other companies have as much problem with lost productivity due to back disability as we do?

I am a manager of a large work force in a physical (not virtual) setting. Many of our middle-aged workers (the dependable "lifers" we call them) are dropping out and into early retirement due to back problems. It costs us much more to train someone new than to rehab a good, productive worker. What can we do to stop the "strain drain" (our term for lost productivity due to back pain).

I've been doing some investigation myself on-line looking at results of studies using blood injection therapy for bone healing. So many of the studies seem to suggest it doesn't always work as well as expected. Why not? I was kind of hoping this could be something that would help me with my very unstable low back.

I saw on your website the Patient Guide to Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment of Musculoskeletal Problems. It says, "blood injection therapy has been used for knee osteoarthritis, degenerative cartilage, and spinal fusion." I'd like to know about the spinal fusion part since that's something I might end up needing. Could this injection therapy work for me?

I am the director of a fairly large and well-attended senior citizen center. One of the members of our board of directors in a gerontologist specializing in the care of older adults. He suggested we hold a screening clinic to help identify seniors who have scoliosis. We are investigating the idea. What can you tell me about this problem? I need more information before presenting it to the membership at large for a vote.

I am part of a return to work focused rehabilitation program. What might this entail?

My friends and I have been tennis players for many years, and all of us seem to have had some level of back injury while playing, why do these injuries seem so common?

My 85 year old father has suffered several compression fractures in his thoracic spine following a recent fall. What are the options for treatment for him?

I have osteoporosis and I am considering a spinal fusion. What are some things to consider?

I have osteoporosis and I am considering a spinal fusion. What are some things to consider?