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

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Compared to open spine surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery offers several advantages. Learn about the benefits.

Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist or Doctor about Medications

It's essential to have clear communication with your doctor and pharmacist when it comes to taking drugs and medications. Understanding your treatment will better help you reduce your back and neck pain.

Medications Glossary

Terms and definitions help you better understand the drugs and medications used to treat neck and back pain.

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.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

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

Conditions Treated with Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

9 spinal disorders that may be treated using minimally invasive spine surgery techniques and the potential benefits.

Opioids for Severe Back Pain and Neck Pain

Opioids are powerful prescription-only medications known as analgesics; drugs that may help reduce back and neck pain.

Exams and Tests for Degenerative Disc Disease

The diagnosis of degenerative disc disease involves a thorough neurological and physical exam along with imaging tests to confirm the extent of the spinal problem, such as herniation or spinal stenosis.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis

There are different types of spondylolisthesis. What type you have all depends on the original cause.

Neuropathic Drugs and Medications

Neuropathic pain is characterized by chronic burning, tingling, and numbness.This article explores the medication options for neuropathic pain.

Lumbar Spine, Sacrum, and Coccyx

Find out how the lumbar spine is made for walking, running, sitting, and lifting. Furthermore, gain a better understanding of lordosis and why sitting may increase coccyx pain.

Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain: What You Need to Know

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has become a standard of care for people with chronic back and neck pain. Neurosurgeon answers the questions patients ask.

Spinal Cord, Nerves, and the Brain

The spinal cord, nerves, and brain make up the body's communication center. These complex structures and how they work together are explained in this easy-to-understand article.

What Is a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial?

A spinal cord stimulation trial period is necessary if you are considering this treatment to reduce and manage your chronic back pain.

How Is a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implanted?

Information about the surgical implantation of a spinal cord stimulation system is provided. If your spinal cord stimulation trial was successful, you may be eligible to have a SCS system permanently implanted to reduce and manage chronic back pain.

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. If I lose weight can I avoid spine surgery?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Articles Reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Obesity and Degenerative Disc Disease

Can obesity cause degenerative disc disease? Learn why extra pounds can put extra strain on the spine and why the symptoms of degenerative disc disease may be worse if you're significantly overweight.

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

Chiropractic care includes the diagnosis and treatment of many different types of neck (cervical) problems.

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.

The Role of Bone Graft in Spinal Fusion Surgery

Bone graft doesn't heal or fuse the spine immediately; instead, bone graft provides a foundation or scaffold for the patient's body to grow new bone.

Physical Therapy to Relieve Neck Pain

Learn about the various types of physical therapy that can help you get rid of neck pain. How will physical therapy help you find neck pain relief?

Slideshow Is Your Neck Pain Serious or Not?

Is that nagging neck pain serious or not? Should you wait until it goes away or should you call a doctor? This slideshow shows you simple ways to detect whether your neck pain is serious or not.

Exams and Tests for Spondylosis

To make an accurate diagnosis of spondylosis, your doctor will do physical and neurological exams. You'll need to have x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, too.

Slideshow Spinal Anatomy Slideshow

To better understand your back pain, go through our quick, educational spinal anatomy slideshow. See drawings of vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and the different spinal regions (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine).

Slideshow Unusual Treatments for Back Pain

Botox, Magnets, and Other Back Pain Treatments

Curious to see if unconventional treatments will help ease your back pain? This slideshow covers 4 unusual treatments for back pain, including Botox and magnets. See whether these treatments work, and find out if they’re right for you.

What Is Microforaminotomy?

Microforaminotomy is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery that helps relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots. Smaller incisions and a faster recovery may make this procedure more attractive than open foraminotomy.

Slideshow Spondylosis (Spinal Osteoarthritis) Basics

Could my neck or back pain be spondylosis?

Spondylosis—also known as spinal osteoarthritis or spinal arthritis—can affect any part of the spine. This slideshow highlights the most common spondylosis symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Physical Therapy for Spondylosis

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

Surgery for Spondylosis

Article lists scenarios where surgery is recommended and details the types of surgery used.

Alternative Treatments for Upper Back Pain

Learn about acupuncture and massage and find out how they can help you deal with upper back pain.

Drugs, Medications, and Injections for Upper Back Pain

Drugs, medications, and injections work to control and relieve your upper back pain. Your doctor will help figure out which medication is right for you. Options include acetaminophen and muscle relaxants.

Financial Disclosures

SpineUniverse, a Remedy Health Media, 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 Remedy Health Media, 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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