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Spine Anatomy

Cervical Spine:

  • The neck part of the spine. It consists of seven vertebrae and connects to the base of the skull. 


  • The tailbone, connects to the base of the spinal column.

Bone Graft:

  • Healthy bone tissue, usually taken from the hip, which is placed between vertebrae and used to fuse them together.


  • Soft, flexible "cushions" that are between each vertebrae in the spine.

Epidural Spine:

  • The space in the spine between the spinal cord and the bone of the vertebrae. 


  • A bone section of vertebrae that helps protect the spinal cord.

Lumbar Spine:

  • Commonly referred to as the lower back, the lowest five vertebrae above your hips, ending above the sacrum.

Nerve Roots:

  • The part of a nerve that connects with the spinal cord.


  • Section of the spine where the pelvis connects. The sacrum is made of five fused vertebrae, meaning solid bone with no discs or flexibility.

Spinal Cord:

  • A main part of the central nervous system, the spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that transmit messages to and from the brain to all other parts of the body. The spinal cord is protected by the spinal column.

Thoracic Spine:

  • Commonly referred to as the middle back, the thoracic spine consists of the twelve vertebrae between the Cervical and Lumbar sections of the spine. This is where ribs connects to the spine.


  • The bone sections that make up the spine. They have a hollow center where the spinal cord is housed, bone projections for muscles to connect to, and hard bone called lamina connecting the projections and protecting the spine.


  • The plural form of the word Vertebra.

Spine Anatomy

Neurological Diseases


  • A balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel.

Arachnoid Cyst:
  • Benign fluid-filled collections that can occur in the brain.

  • Inflammation occurring in joints. Arthritis can occur due to wear and tear that comes with aging and overuse, or caused by a disorder or disease.

Bulging Disc:
  • The soft and elastic "cushion" between vertebrae, that is protruding, or building outside the area that it is supposed to be in.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • The compression of the median nerve at the wrist.

Cervical Radiculopathy:
  • Inflammation or damage at the nerve root(s) in the neck, causing nerves to stop functioning properly. This can lead to pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of limbs.

Chiari Malformation:
  • The downward movement of the brain through the opening at the base of the skull.

  • A mild traumatic brain injury, most commonly caused by a blow to the head.

  • The bruising of the brain due to traumatic injury.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome:
  • The compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow.

Diabetic Neuropathy:
  • Irreparable nerve damage due to diabetes.

Degenerative Disc Disease:
  • Erosion and deterioration of the disc in the spine. This is most commonly caused by the natural aging process.

  • An infection of the disc space.

Herniated Disc:
  • A disc with a tear in it. Sometimes this allows the soft inside of a disc to spill out through the elastic skin that normally holds a disc together.

  • Pain, numbness, and weakness of a nerve.

  • A slow-growing brain tumor.

  • A disease or malfunction of the nervous system, often causing pain or numbness. Neuropathy occurs when there is nothing structurally wrong with the spine, but there is still nerve damage. Commonly from diabetes or trauma. Spinal Cord Stimulation is often a way to relieve this pain.

RSD: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy:
  • "Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy" is nerve damage, typically in the upper extremities. RSD Can cause severe pain, swelling, and changes in the skin.

  • Pain numbness and weakness in the Sciatic nerve (lower limbs).

  • A curvature of the spine.

  • Abnormal excessive activity in the brain resulting in a "seizing up" of the muscle and sometimes thrashing movements.

Spinal Stenosis:
  • A narrowing of the spinal canal. This puts pressure on nerves resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, and in extreme cases loss of limb function.


A "slipped disc". The sliding of one vertebral body on another.

  • Permanent injury to the brain or spinal cord.

TIA: Transient Ischemic Attack:
  • Mild injury to the brain.

Trigeminal neuralgia (TGN):
  • Irritation of the trigeminal nerve causing severe facial pain.

Neurological Diseases

Non-Surgical Procedures

CESI: Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection:

  • Injection of medicine into the epidural space of specified pain-causing vertebrae in the neck.

  • Diagnostic test used to identify specific damaged vertebrae.

  • A procedure used to evaluate the cause of back pain by injecting dye into the center of affected spinal discs. The behavior of the dye helps determine the specific damaged disc.

Facet joint injections:
  • Facet joints allows mobility of vertebrae, and are located between every vertebrae. A facet joint injection, injects medicine into affected joints that are causing pain or discomfort.

LESI: Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection:
  • The injection of medicine into the epidural space of affected vertebrae in the lower back.

  • A diagnostic procedure in which contrast dye is injected into the spinal canal, to identify the area and cause of pain.

Radio Frequency Ablation:
  • A procedure that uses radio waves to produce enough heat to stop specific nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. It is a minimally invasive procedure that is an effective alternative to surgery.

SI joint injection:
  • An injection of medicine into the sacroiliac joint, the place where pelvis meets the spine.

Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial:
  • The first step towards a permanent spinal cord stimulator implant. It is a process that tests the effectiveness and degree of pain relief for a patient seeking treatment for chronic pain. The trial takes place for one week and then the effectiveness is evaluated.

TESI: Thoracic Epidural Steroid Injections:
  • The injection of medicine into the epidural space of affected vertebrae in the Thoracic Spine.

Non-surgical Procedures

Surgical Procedures

ACDF: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion:

  • A neck surgery involving the removal of damaged discs, and the fusing of vertebrae, to stabilize the damaged area of the Cervical Spine.

ALIF: Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion:

  • A lower back surgery involving the fusion of vertebrae to create spinal stability.

Bone Graft:

  • A step taken in many surgeries, particularly fusion. In a fusion, a bone graft is healthy bone tissue, usually taken from the hip, which is placed between vertebrae and used to fuse them together.

Carpal Tunnel Release:

  • Wrist surgery that relieves the pressure that may cause loss of feeling and strength in and around the fingers and thumb. The procedure performs a tiny incision in the carpal ligament across the wrist.


  • Surgery that removes a part of the skull.


  • A surgical procedure in which part of the disc is removed to relieve pressure.


  • A minimally invasive surgery in which balloons are expanded inside a vertebrae until the desired adjustment is reached. The space created by the balloon is filled with "bone cement" to create stability and hold positioning.


  • A surgical procedure in which part of the lamina, bone of the back of a vertebra, is removed to relieve pressure from the spinal cord. 

Lumbar Corpectomy:

  • A surgery that removes part of a vertebral body.

Micro Endoscopic Discectomy:

  • A minimally invasive surgical procedure that is used to relieve pressure on nerve roots caused by a herniated disc.

PLIF: Posterior Lumbar lnterbody Fusion:

  • A surgery that fuses two or more vertebrae in order to create spinal stabilization.

Spinal Cord Stimulation:

  • A treatment to chronic pain or neuropathy, spinal cord stimulation uses electrical pulses to interrupt pain signals and translate them into a different sensation that is more manageable.

Spinal Fusion:

  • The joining together of two or more levels of vertebrae through the use of bone grafts and internal hardware.

Total Disc Replacement:

  • A surgical procedure that replaces a damaged disc completely, while still preserving the natural movement of the spine.

Vagal Nerve Stimulation:

  • A method used to treat seizures by using a 'pacemaker-like' device on the Vagus Nerve.


  • A minimally invasive surgery in which "Bone Cement" is injected into damaged vertebrae to create stabilization and relieve pressure.

Surgical Procedures
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