6 Treatment Options For Complex Spinal Disorders

Complex Spinal Disorders

A complex spinal disorder is a general term that describes any condition that changes or affects spinal stability. This can include deformities, trauma, tumors, infections, and degenerative disorders. While some complex spinal disorders are congenital (present at birth), others develop over time due to age, injury, or disease.


This condition can cause pain, nerve damage, and disability. In severe cases, it may be life-threatening. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for complex spinal disorders. Treatment depends on the specific diagnosis, its severity, and the individual’s age, health, and preferences.

This article will outline six standard treatment options for complex spinal disorders.

Complex Spinal Disorders

  • Surgery 

Surgery is often one of the common treatments for complex spinal disorders. This method involves spinal decompression and stabilization, or spinal neck and back fusion. The surgery can be done through open or minimally invasive procedures. That means making a large incision to access the spine or using smaller incisions and special tools.

Let’s dig deeper into some of the most common surgeries recommended for complex spinal disorders.

  • Decompression

Spinal decompression is a surgery performed to relieve pressure on the spine. It may involve removing a herniated disc or part of a bone that’s putting pressure on the spine.

  • Spinal Fusion

This surgery is done by fusing two or more vertebrae together. This procedure may help stabilize the spine and relieve pain. Metal rods, screws, or bone grafts may hold the vertebrae in place while they fuse.

Medical experts specializing in spinal fusion operations, including neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, will test patients to see if they’re candidates for surgery. The type of surgery performed will depend on the individual diagnosis. You may visit https://www.dickinsonneurosurgery.com/ to learn about this surgical treatment for complex spinal disorders.

  • Laminectomy Or Laminotomy

Laminectomy and laminotomy are types of decompression surgery. The procedure is performed by removing the lamina, a bony plate covering the spinal canal. It could relieve compression on the spinal cord or nerves. 

Partial removal of the lamina is called laminotomy, while complete removal is termed laminectomy.

  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy And Fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a combination of decompression and fusion surgery. The procedure involves making an incision on the front part of the neck. The surgeon cuts out the herniated disc and then fuses the vertebrae.

  • Physical Therapy 

Although physical therapy may not cure complex spinal disorders, it may help improve your symptoms and quality of life. This therapy is beneficial, especially if you have a severe injury or other mobility issues. A physical therapist will design a personalized rehabilitation program based on the individual’s needs and goals.

Here are a few examples of exercises that might be included in a physical therapy program for complex spinal disorders:

  • Stretching

You may need to stretch your back, neck, and shoulder muscles to relieve pain and improve your range of motion. This approach could help prevent your muscles from becoming too tight.

  • Strengthening

Strengthening the abdominal and back muscles can help stabilize the spine. Such exercises may include sit-ups, leg lifts, and bridges. These activities are typically performed with no weight or very light weights.

  • Aerobic Conditioning

Low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking or swimming, may benefit your physical therapy program. Walking can help condition and keep your body or posture upright. On the other hand, swimming is a great option to reduce spine and joint stress.

When starting a new exercise program, it’s essential not to overdo it. Physical therapists typically recommend gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts as your strength and endurance improve. After all, you don’t want to risk further injury.

  • Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapy (OT) is usually for patients who have spinal disorders that make it difficult to perform daily tasks, such as dressing or bathing. The goal of OT is to help patients regain their independence and learn new ways to complete daily activities.

An occupational expert will assess the patient’s needs and design a customized treatment program. The program may include exercises, splinting, and adaptive equipment.

This therapy can teach energy-conserving methods, adaptive techniques, and equipment use. It may also recommend changes to the home or work environment.

  • Chiropractic Care 

Another treatment option is chiropractic care, which has various benefits to offer. It’s an alternative medicine that focuses on diagnosing and managing musculoskeletal disorders. Chiropractors use hand manipulations to adjust the spine and other joints. This professional can also offer suggestions on posture and ergonomics. In addition, they may provide nutritional counseling and stress-reduction tips.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common chiropractic techniques:

  • Spinal Manipulation

In spinal manipulation, chiropractors use their hands to apply pressure to the spine. This method is also known as spinal adjustment.

  • Mobilization

Mobilization is a low-force technique used to move joints in a specific direction. Chiropractors may use their hands or an instrument to apply pressure.

  • Massage

Massage therapy is often used in conjunction with other chiropractic approaches. It may help relieve muscle tension and pain.

  • Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy involves applying pressure to specific muscle areas to release knots.

Chiropractic care is believed to be a safe treatment for various conditions such as back pain and neck pain, often associated with complex spinal disorders. However, there’s a small risk of side effects, such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, or pain in the treated area.

  • Acupuncture 

Clinical trials and reviews suggest that acupuncture may effectively reduce pain associated with any spinal disorder. This traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body.

Acupuncture may work by stimulating the nervous system and releasing chemicals in the brain that help relieve pain. It’s also believed to be a safe treatment when performed by a licensed and trained professional. There are also minor side effects such as bruising, bleeding, or soreness at the needle site.

  • Bracing Treatment 

Medical practitioners may suggest wearing a back brace as a non-surgical treatment plan for complex spinal disorders. This type of brace is designed to provide support and stability to the spine. In other words, it’s a device that limits the movement of the spine. This treatment is often recommended for patients with spondylolisthesis or degenerative disc disease.

Patients can wear a back brace during their daily routine or all day, depending on the severity of the condition and the doctor’s recommendation. It’s also crucial to follow the physician’s instructions on wearing the brace appropriately. Improper use may lead to more pain or further injury.

Now that you know about complex spinal disorders and some of the treatment options available, let’s discuss some of the specific conditions that fall under this category.

The Common Types Of Complex Spinal Disorders

There are different types of complex spinal disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. Here are some of the most common conditions:

  • Scoliosis 

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to the side. It can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects adolescents. The cause of childhood scoliosis is unknown in most cases, but it’s believed to be due to genetic and environmental factors.

Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Uneven shoulder and waist
  • Twisted or rotated spine
  • One hip higher than the other
  • The head isn’t centered over the pelvis
  • Kyphosis 

There’s an abnormal curve in the upper back when you have kyphosis. This can be caused by osteoporosis, a congenital abnormality, or muscular dystrophy. It’s more common in older women.

Symptoms may include:

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Abnormally curved spine
  • Stiffness and pain in the back
  • A hump on the upper back
  • Spondylolisthesis 

Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra slips forward on the vertebra below it. A vertebra is a small, round bone that makes up the spine. This spinal disorder might be due to congenital abnormality, trauma, or degenerative changes in the spine.

The most common symptom is lower back pain, but you may also experience:

  • Stiffness in the lower back
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Tingling or numbness from the buttocks down to the legs

Spondylolisthesis can be mild or severe. A mild case may not cause any symptoms. However, severe cases may lead to pain and disability.

  • Spinal Stenosis 

Spinal stenosis is a common type of complex spinal disorder in which the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of this condition, gradually wearing away the cartilage between the vertebrae.

Spinal stenosis can have symptoms of:

  • Back pain
  • Burning sensation from the buttocks down to the legs
  • Numbness, cramping, tingling, and weakness in the legs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

This condition occurs when the discs between the vertebrae start to break down. The discs act as shock absorbers, so pain may result when they deteriorate. Degenerative disc disease is a normal part of aging, but it can be accelerated by injury or obesity.

The symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Sharp pain with certain movements
  • Frequent changing of positions to find a comfortable one
  • Pain that gets worse with extended sitting, standing, twisting, or bending

The Bottom Line

Complex spinal disorders can be painful and debilitating. But there are treatments available that may help. If you think you may have one of these conditions, it’s critical to see a medical expert for an accurate diagnosis and get the best course of treatment. They can help you manage your symptoms and get you on the road to recovery.

Don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you need to live a better life. After all, your spine is one of the cornerstones of your health.