Back pain: How do I know if I need back surgery?

December 4th, 2017

BWhen back pain strikes, it's hard to know if you need back surgery or can treat with other methods.ack pain is one of those hidden injuries that can range anywhere from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. One of the most difficult things about managing back pain is knowing the difference between common ailments that can be treated with non-invasive methods, and serious back issues that require surgery. So how can you figure out if you need to see a†spine surgeon?

While surgeons often have differing opinions on what requires spinal surgery and what doesnít, a general rule of thumb is simply if non-invasive methods donít do the trick, spinal surgery is maybe the best option to give you some relief. Take a look below for things to try to relief your back pain before considering serious back surgery.


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What is Spinal Fusion Surgery?

August 3rd, 2017

The spine is the core of the human body. If you suffer from severe spine pain, youíll have to do whatever it takes to recover as quickly as you can.

Sometimes, surgery tends to be a necessity for many people who put off their spinal issues for considerable amounts of time. One form of this surgery is spinal fusion.

Older woman with back pain


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Top 5 Foods for a Healthy Brain

August 2nd, 2017

Blueberries have shown to be beneficial for brain health

Everyone thinks mental health, intellectual growth and brain functioning starts with things like books and crossword puzzles. While thatís certainly true, and those activities are great ways to boost cognitive abilities,†researchers agree that the foundation for fluid mental activity starts with something else: the food you eat.

Even deeper, your†diet affects not just cognitive functioning – it also affects your mood as well.


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What is a Brain Bleed?

July 21st, 2017

Neuron blood flow as brain circulation with cells flowing through veins and human circulatory system representing a medical health care symbol relating to stroke or neurology issues.A brain bleed is a type of stroke that occurs when an artery in a personís brain bursts and†causes bleeding throughout the surrounding cranial tissues.


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Can Brain Surgery Treat a Stroke?

July 7th, 2017

Neurosurgeons perform surgery to treat some strokes. Strokes can be treated in various ways. Doctors decide on a course of action by considering a patientís age, health and the type of stroke they had. Every surgery has benefits and risks that doctors and patients need to weigh.

Woman holding brain model against head isolated on white background

Surgery to Treat an Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is when plaque, a fatty substance, accumulates and narrows arteries, cutting off the blood supply to the brain. This condition is called atherosclerosis. The plaque slows blood flow and can cause clots to form.

If the carotid arteries, those in the neck, are blocked, a surgeon may recommend surgery to clear the blockage. During this procedure, the neurosurgeon removes the plaque that has built up.

Ischemic strokes have other causes besides atherosclerosis. They include:

  • Heart attack
  • Injury to blood vessels in the neck
  • A problem with blood clotting
  • Heart valve problems
  • An irregular heartbeat

Ischemic strokes may be one of two types:

  1. Thrombotic strokes are when a blot clot forms in an artery that sends blood to the brain.
  2. Embolic strokes are are caused by a clot that originates somewhere else in the body then moves through vessels to the brain stopping the flow of blood.

Some symptoms of ischemic strokes are:

  • Sudden weakness and numbness in the leg, arm or face. These symptoms may affect only one side of the body.
  • Double vision or loss of vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness, trouble walking or with balance or coordination
  • Trouble speaking or comprehending speech

Surgery to Treat Hemorrhagic Strokes

A hemorrhagic stroke is when bleeding in the brain causes damage. An aneurysm, a weak spot in a blood vessel, that breaks is sometimes the cause of these types of strokes. Another cause of hemorrhagic stroke are abnormal blood vessels, also called arteriovenous malformation.

Bleeding may happen between the brain and the skull. When that happens, it is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. During an intracerebral hemorrhage the bleeding is inside the brain.

Treatment for these types of strokes include:

  • Draining the blood around or in the brain
  • Repairing the brain aneurysm
  • Removing or blocking abnormal vessels that caused the bleeding

Symptoms of hemorrhagic stroke are often severe and sudden. They include:

  • An intense headache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vision problems
  • Light sensitivity

Strokes are a serious and life-threatening condition. If you think you are having a stroke, call 911. Speak to your primary care physician to discover if you have risk factors for stroke.

Dr. Todd Kuether is a neurosurgeon in Portland, Oregon. He helps patients who need brain surgery or spinal surgery. His expertise includes endovascular aneurysm and stroke treatment. To make an appointment, please contact his office.

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What Is Brain Swelling?

March 31st, 2017

Behind view of the brain. Brain swelling is dangerous must be treated immediately. Brain swelling is a dangerous condition that increases pressure inside the skull. Swelling may be in one area or throughout the brain. There are different causes and treatments for swelling of the brain. In some cases, a neurosurgeon will recommend surgery to relieve pressure.


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How to Choose A Brain Surgeon

March 17th, 2017

If you have recently learned that you need to undergo brain surgery, youíre likely experiencing a lot of emotions. Fear, anxiety, and stress are just some of the feelings that you may be processing right now and having to choose a brain surgeon adds another level of stress to the situation.


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Why Does My Back Hurt?

December 10th, 2016

Is back pain treatable? Many people live in pain because they believe thereís no cure for an aching back. Sometimes, these fears are validated by a physician. While back pain and injuries can be difficult to treat, there are ways to lessen and prevent problems.

Why Does my Back hurt.


Entry Filed under: Spine Comments

Water Workouts for an Aching Back

November 28th, 2016

Pain makes it difficult to do what you want to do. When your back aches, you may not be able to exercise. Water workouts for an aching back can be a gentle alternative for those who have pain. Before you begin a new exercise program, check with your primary care physician.

water workouts


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How to Choose a Back Surgeon

October 24th, 2016

You want the best when you’re choosing a back surgeon. That goes without saying. But, how do you know if a surgeon is the best doctor for you? Most cities, including Portland, have several neurosurgeons from which to choose.

How to choose a back surgeon


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