Dr. Alexander Taghva is a board-certified neurosurgeon in Orange County offering surgical and nonsurgical treatment for a wide range of spine, brain, and nerve disorders. For more information about treatment options for each condition listed below, please visit the linked page or contact our Mission Viejo office at 949-388-7190 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Taghva.
Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar Spine Disorders
Many spine disorders can be treated with physical therapy and a variety of pain management techniques, including heat and cold, anti-inflammatory medications, and spinal injections. When these methods fail, spinal surgery may be an option. Dr. Taghva is the only neurosurgeon in Orange County offering endoscopic spine surgery and he specializes in minimally invasive outpatient procedures that allow patients to go home soon after surgery whenever possible.
Minimally invasive spine surgery and traditional spine surgery often involve techniques to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Common surgical methods for treating chronic pain from a damaged disc include spinal fusion to remove a disc and fuse two vertebrae together with a bone graft, or artificial disc replacement, which involves removing a problem disc and replacing it.
Herniated Discs & Bulging Discs
Spinal discs sit between the vertebrae of the spine, providing cushioning and mobility. A herniated disc occurs when the outer part of the disc develops a crack or tear, allowing the soft center (nucleus) to push through and irritate the spinal nerves. A bulging disc is less severe, but can still cause pain.
While some herniated and bulging discs can be resolved without surgery, other cases may require a minimally invasive surgical procedure, such as discectomy or microdiscectomy, laminotomy, anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), posterior lumbar fusion (PLIF, TLIF), or total disc replacement.
Low Back Pain and Neck Pain
Back and/or neck pain is often caused by a herniated or bulging disc in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. Dr. Taghva works with each patient to determine the source of their pain before recommending a treatment option. Generally, surgery is considered only when other treatments have failed. Some patients benefit from discectomy, fusion, spinal cord stimulation, or other neurosurgical treatments.
Many spine disorders result in nerve pain, since a damaged disc, bone spurs, or narrowing of the spinal canal leads to reduced room for the nerves in the spinal column. In many cases, Dr. Taghva can treat nerve pain with surgical techniques including spinal cord stimulation, foraminotomy, laminotomy, or spinal fusion.
Sciatica describes pain from compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower spine, through the buttock, and down the leg. Leg pain is a telltale sign of this common spine condition. In many cases, the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve that leads to sciatica are caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. Because of this, procedures like foraminotomy, discectomy, laminotomy, posterior lumbar fusion (PLF, TLIF), anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), disc replacement, and other lumbar spine surgeries may be recommended to treat the condition if it does not go away with nonsurgical intervention.
Over time, the spinal canal can gradually become narrower, a condition that is known as spinal stenosis. Bone spur formation, bulging discs, thickened tissues, and injury can all contribute to stenosis, which eventually compresses the spinal nerves and causes a range of symptoms which can include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness.
Treating spinal stenosis involves decompressing the spinal canal and relieving pressure on the nerves. This is often best accomplished with minimally invasive surgery such as a laminotomy, foraminotomy, posterior lumbar fusion (PLF, TLIF).
A common symptom of aging, spondylosis describes degeneration in the spine and may affect any region. With age, the discs become drier, harder, and flatter, losing some of their ability to cushion the vertebrae of the spine. Spondylosis is often known as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease.
The consequences of spinal degeneration may include pain, bone spurs, disc degeneration, bulging or herniated disks, vertebral compression fractures, reduced mobility, and poor function of the facet joints. Treatment varies depending on the region causing symptoms and the type of issues the spondylosis is causing. Many problems can be fixed with minimally invasive spine surgery.
Occurring in the lower back, spondylolisthesis is the slippage of a vertebra onto the bone beneath it. People of all ages can develop spondylolisthesis from a variety of causes including birth defects, injuries, fractured vertebra, a family history of the condition, overstretching when playing sports, and rapid growth.
Symptoms of spondylolisthesisinclude lower back pain, thigh pain, lower back and leg stiffness, and tight buttock or hamstring muscles. Initial treatment is usually nonsurgical and may include physical therapy, a back brace, pain medication, or steroid injections. Spinal fusion may be necessary if these treatments are unsuccessful.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (Post Laminectomy Syndrome)
Unfortunately, not all back surgeries are successful. When a patient undergoes a laminectomy or spinal fusion, pain and mobility issues sometimes persist, a condition known as “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.” In these cases, Dr. Taghva may perform spinal cord stimulation (SCS) surgery or a revision complex back surgery procedure to help patients finally find relief.
Failed Neck Surgery Syndrome
Similar to Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, Failed Neck Surgery Syndrome occurs when surgery performed on the cervical (upper or neck) spine does not relieve the patient’s symptoms or the symptoms return. Dr. Taghva evaluates each patient seeking revision surgery carefully to determine the best course of treatment. The goal is to relieve the patient’s symptoms while minimizing further surgical intervention.
Scoliosis describes an abnormal curve of the spinal column. There are two main types of scoliosis: juvenile and adult. Juvenile scoliosis, or adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, typically occurs just before puberty, during a growth spurt. Adult or degenerative scoliosis can have different causes, including arthritis and spinal injury.
In mild cases of scoliosis, physical therapy may be all that is necessary to treat the condition. More severe cases will require the use of a brace or surgery to decompress the spine. Sometimes, the placement of rods and screws can be avoided with minimally invasive surgical techniques like posterior lumbar fusion (PLF, TLIF).
Spinal Trauma and Spinal Cord Injuries
Trauma to the spine and spinal cord injuries can lead to pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, and other long-term effects. Treatment options vary due to the wide range of spinal injuries, but one common option for addressing pain from a spinal cord injury is ablative surgery. During the procedure, a heated probe creates controlled lesions to control chronic pain. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may also be an option.
Tumors of the Spine
Tumors can occur nearly anywhere on the body. The location and size of the tumor will have an influence on the surgical options. Dr. Taghva may request additional imaging and tests in order to create a plan for surgery. In some cases, minimally invasive techniques may be an option.
Lumbar Spine Surgery
Low back pain is extremely common and herniated or bulging discs are most likely to occur in the lumbar (lower) spine. Dr. Taghva offers many different minimally invasive surgeries for the lower back, including laminotomy, foraminotomy, anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), posterior lumbar fusion (PLF, TLIF), spinal fusion and deformity correction, total disc replacement, and discectomy. Depending on the patient’s situation, Dr. Taghva may suggest one or a combination of different minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat pain and other issues in the lumbar spine.
Pain and Peripheral Nerve Disorders
Living with chronic pain significantly impacts a person’s quality of life. Nerve pain, in particular, can be extremely intense and can make it difficult to enjoy normal activities. Dr. Taghva works with each patient to understand the source of their pain and find ways to reduce it without relying on medications that may cause side effects or dependency.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
Believed to be caused by dysfunctions within the nervous system, CRPS sends excess nerve impulses to a site in the body (often the site of an injury) and causes pain, redness, warmth, and swelling. This pain will typically get worse over time and may feel like a burning sensation. Swelling and stiffness in the joints of the affected area, decreased mobility, and other changes in the skin and hair of the area can occur. It is most common in younger adults.
Though making a diagnosis can be difficult, nerve blocks and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) are sometimes effective in treating CRPS pain. Dr. Taghva offers several treatment options.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe type of facial pain that many patients describe as feeling like an electric bolt intermittently stabbing them in the face. There is usually no warning for when the pain will occur and it is typically a chronic condition.
Dr. Taghva often treats this condition with microvascular decompression, which involves exposing the trigeminal nerve root and moving blood vessels that are pinching or compressing the nerve. After surgery, the nerve should have a chance to recover and patients should find relief.
Brain disorders are among the most challenging medical problems to treat. Only skilled neurosurgeons like Dr. Taghva have the experience and knowledge to successfully treat complex brain disorders or manage symptoms. There is a wide range of brain disorders and patients may need to work with Dr. Taghva on determining a diagnosis before receiving a treatment plan.
Brain tumors, including meningioma, glioblastoma, and metastatic tumors, are a devastating diagnosis to receive. Depending on the type and size of the tumor, surgical removal may be an option. Patients may need radiation or additional treatments with Dr. Taghva or other specialists to improve the chances of successful treatment.
A degenerative and progressive condition, Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that over time makes it more and more difficult to control one’s body movements. Tremors and rigidity along with slowed movements are hallmark symptoms.
Along with medication, innovative surgical treatments like deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help patients with Parkinson’s manage their symptoms. Dr. Taghva has extensive experience in treating this complex condition.
Although Essential Tremor, which causes shaking in the body (often starting with the hands), does not typically affect a person’s overall ability to participate in normal activities, the condition can be embarrassing and make it difficult to write, drink from a cup, or perform other actions requiring steadiness.
Essential Tremor patients may benefit from deep brain stimulation (DBS), a procedure that can help relieve tremors in patients with a variety of conditions.
Tumors of the Pituitary Gland
Pituitary gland tumors interfere with hormone secretion and can create larger problems if left untreated. Dr. Taghva removes these tumors using a special approach due to their location behind the bridge of the nose. Using tiny instruments and cameras, Dr. Taghva approaches the tumors through the nostrils, removing them using minimally invasive techniques.
Hematomas (Bleeding) Within the Brain
Acute hematomas are extremely dangerous. Smaller hematomas may be observed before surgical intervention is needed. Dr. Taghva may use several different surgical techniques to treat hematomas and relieve pressure on the brain.
Consult with Dr. Taghva
Alexander Taghva, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., works with each patient carefully to determine their individual needs. He is known for minimally invasive spine surgery, Parkinson’s disease treatments, and his dedication to his patients’ well-being. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Taghva in Mission Viejo, CA, call 949-388-7190