Jason M. Highsmith, MD's portrait
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
Neurosurgeon
Charleston Brain and Spine
Charleston, SC
Dr. Highsmith is a member of the SpineUniverse Editorial Board.

About Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Dr. Jason M. Highsmith is a board certified and fellowship trained neurosurgeon specializing in complex and minimally-invasive spine surgery in Charleston, SC.

He completed his pre-medical training at Cornell University before attending the Medical College of Virginia for medical school and residency. As a resident, he started the first spinal cord injury lab in the history of MCV. His research there included an award-winning project on the use of artificial blood products to treat spinal cord injury. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Biology there teaching anatomy to nursing students.

Dr. Highsmith went on to join the faculty at Emory University where he completed a complex spine fellowship. He is currently working on the development of new instrumentation to treat spinal pathologies. His research interests include dynamic stabilization, complex spine, radiosurgery, and trauma.

Articles Written by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

What is a Spinal Compression Fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is a type of spinal fracture affecting one or more vertebral bodies. Sudden and severe back pain is a classic symptom and causes include osteoporosis, trauma, injury and spinal tumor.

Bone Loss In Your Spine

How can you tell if bone loss is affecting your spine? Doctor explains telltale symptoms and signs of bone density loss and what you should do.

Spinal Fractures: Frequently Asked Questions

Questions people ask about spinal fractures (such as, vertebra compression fractures) are answered by a doctor, and include risks and causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Spinal Fractures: Are you at risk?

The risk for spinal fracture or vertebral compression fracture increases when the bones in your spine (vertebral bodies) lose density and strength.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Learn about herniated disc symptoms, which can include pain, weakness, tingling, and sciatica (leg pain).

Alternative Treatments for Herniated Disc

Alternative and complementary treatments such as acupuncture, acupressure, and massage may reduce pain associated with a herniated or bulging disc.

Physical Therapy for Spinal Fractures

A physical therapist will develop an individualized plan that helps you return to normal and/or work around your limitations.

Spinal Fracture Prevention

Spinal fracture prevention is about taking precautions when doing certain activities. For example, you should always wear your seat belt when driving.

Common Spinal Fracture Questions

Come here for quick answers to the most common questions about spinal fractures. Includes information about surgical and non-surgical treatment options for fractures caused by trauma.

Drugs and Medications for Spinal Fractures

Spinal fractures may cause pain, so to help you deal with that pain, you may need to take medications. Your doctor will work with you to figure out the best medications and dosages for your pain.

Symptoms of Spinal Fractures

Following a traumatic event such as a car accident, you may not know that you have a fracture. That's why it's important to have a thorough examination by a doctor after a traumatic event.

Muscles Move and Support the Spine

Patient-friendly article about the voluntary muscles that move and support the spine. Lack of muscle strength and flexibility is a common reason for back pain.

Lumbar (Low Back) Dynamic Stabilization - A Patient's Guide

Dynamic stabilization uses flexible materials to stabilize the spine if affected by degenerative changes.

Benefits of Balloon Kyphoplasty

Minimally invasive procedures offer many benefits for patients, and this article details those that are specific to kyphoplasty. It also includes information on post-operative care.

Spondylolisthesis Center

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it. The term is pronounced spondy-low-lis-thesis and is derived from the Greek language: spondylo means vertebra and listhesis means to slip. There are several types or causes of spondylolisthesis.

Recent blog posts from Jason M. Highsmith, MD

February 15, 2012

Is Pregnancy Causing My Low Back Pain or Is It Something Else?

I'm a 29-year-old woman in my second trimester with my first child. I've had low back pain for several years, and I've never actually received a diagnosis. What could be wrong with me, and how do I make my back pain go away? I'm worried about my health and the health of my baby.

January 05, 2012

Weight Loss to Treat Herniated Disc Pain

I'm overweight, and I've had severe back pain caused by a herniated disc. I'm a 33-year-old woman with the rest of my life ahead of me, and I don't want to resort to surgery just yet.

January 12, 2011

Spinal Stenosis Surgery

There are many surgery options for spinal stenosis, but one of the most common options is spinal implants (eg, X-STOP). Learn how these implant can help relieve pressure on your spinal nerves and reduce your back pain.

More from Dr. Highsmith's blog "A Surgeon's Perspective"

Case Studies Presented by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Postsurgical Radicular and Neuropathic Pain

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD
Previous surgery relieved the patient's left leg pain but, postoperatively, he experienced new right leg pain described as radicular and electric in nature.

Spinal Stenosis – Unresponsive to Nonoperative Treatment

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD
A 65-year old male with multiple medical problems reports a long history of low back and leg pain with difficulty walking upright, especially during the last several months.

Rapidly Progressing Cervical Adjacent Segment Disease

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD

A 56-year-old woman presents with a history of worsening neck and left shoulder pain. She has had some relief with C4-C5 epidurals, but her pain has persisted. She has had previous C6-C7 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with plate in 2002. That was followed by explanation of instrumentation and subsequent C5-C6 ACDF in 2007.

Pseudofusion Dilemma

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD

Patient History A 53-year-old, nonsmoking woman came to the clinic with increasing back and right leg pain despite undergoing an L4-S1 Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) and lateral mass fusion with Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) just 8 months prior. She initially had surgery for sever

Cervical Pseudoarthrosis and Adjacent Level Disease

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD

Patient History This 70 year-old female presented reporting increasing neck and periscapular pain over several years. The patient underwent a C5-C7 ACDF 11 years earlier. Her pain intensified and radiated into the deltoid area following a minor motor vehicle accident 6 months earlier. Examination

Burst Fracture in a 79-Year-old Male: How would you treat?

Presented by: J. Highsmith MD

This case is about a 79-year-old man whose fall caused an L1 burst fracture. Case details, treatment, and discussion included.

Articles Reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Symptoms of Upper Back Pain

Common upper back pain symptoms include muscle stiffness, tightness, and tenderness that may affect the shoulders and neck. Upper back pain is often related to muscle or soft tissue problems, such as sprains, strains, or tension.

Causes of Kyphosis

The cause of your kyphosis depends on what type of kyphosis you have: postural or structural. Postural, not surprisingly, is caused by poor posture, but structural kyphosis is related to problems with parts of the spine. Review typical kyphosis causes.

Physical Therapy for Herniated Discs

Your spine specialist may prescribe physical therapy (PT) as part of treatment for a herniated disc. Your PT program will usually begin with passive treatments. But once your body heals, you will start active treatments that strengthen your body and prevent further pain.

Types of Kyphosis

Kyphosis, an extreme outward curve in the spine, has several types. The doctor will need to determine what type you have because that influences treatment options.

Anatomy of Kyphosis

Easy-to-understand explanation of normal spinal anatomy and how kyphosis can change parts of the spine. Article explains why we have curves in our spine and the different complex components of the spine, such as vertebrae, discs, and nerves.

What is Kyphosis?

Everybody should have kyphosis in their thoracic spine, but when the spine starts to curve outward too much, there's a problem. Brief overview of two types of kyphosis and why this spinal condition is more than just slouching.

Physical Therapy for Whiplash

In whiplash, the soft tissues in your neck are damaged. A physical therapist can work with you to restore proper function to those tissues.

Symptoms of Whiplash

When you get whiplash, you'll know what caused it. But you may not feel the symptoms of it until sometime later.

Physical Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease

Physical therapy for degenerative disc disease (DDD) can include exercises to stretch and strengthen your spine. Find out more about how physical therapy helps treat DDD.

Degenerative Disc Disease Prevention and Relief

Article provides tips to prevent back pain caused by degenerative disc disease (DDD). These tips can help you recover better from DDD surgery and have a healthier spine overall.

Physical Therapy for Spondylosis

A physical therapy program is individualized and may include active treatments, such as an exercise program.

Symptoms of Spondylosis

The symptoms of spondylosis, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, vary depending on where your spine is affected.

Physical Therapy for Spondylolisthesis

Physical therapy is an often prescribed treatment option for spondylolisthesis, a low back condition. You'll strengthen the muscles that support the spine, and you'll learn how to keep your spine safe. If you have pain, though, the first goal will be to relieve that.

AxiaLIF

Deciding whether to have spine surgery can be scary, even if it is minimally invasive. Find out how AxiaLIF-a type of minimally invasive spine surgery-can relieve your back pain, and learn about its advantages and disadvantages.

Mini-open ALIF

Discover how mini-open anterior lumbar interbody fusion is performed, what conditions it’s used for, and the risks associated with this minimally invasive spine surgery.

Financial Disclosures

SpineUniverse, a Vertical Health, LLC website, is committed to ensuring that the medical information it presents is accurate, balanced, objective, and trustworthy. 

To help achieve this goal, SpineUniverse requires all authors, editors, and reviewers to disclose any financial relationships or affiliations they have with companies whose products or services may be mentioned in the content they author, edit, or review.

The intent of this policy is to identify any perceived, potential, or real conflicts of interest so that readers can make their own judgments about the value of information being presented.

Author's Statement

I, or an immediate family member, have a financial interest(s) or affiliation(s) with the following commercial companies whose products and / or services may be mentioned in the materials I have authored, edited or reviewed for presentation on Vertical Health, LLC’s websites.

Disclosed Relationships

Consultant/Independent Contractor
Boston Scientific, Globus Medical, Covidien
Speaking/Teaching
Boston Scientific, Globus Medical, Covidien, St. Jude Medical
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