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

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.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Back or neck pain is a common symptom of degenerative disc disease. Where pain is felt depends on the region of the spine affected by DDD.

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.

Biologic Drugs for Back Pain and Neck Pain

Biologic drugs are a special, complex class of medications that help treat spinal inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.

Causes of a Herniated Disc

Article clearly explains 3 most common causes of a herniated disc. Includes illustration showing the 4 stages of a herniated disc (or bulging disc).

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.

Exams and Tests for a Herniated Disc

Detailed description of the physical exam and imaging tests (x-rays, MRIs, CTs) used to diagnose herniated discs (also called bulging discs or ruptured discs)

Spinal Cord Stimulation Devices Can Pose Safety Concerns for Spine Surgery

Implantation of a spinal cord stimulation changes aspects of a patient’s structural anatomy that may pose challenges during spine surgery.

Physical Therapy for Spinal Stenosis

Treatment for spinal stenosis may include physical therapy to relieve back or neck pain and other spinal stenosis symptoms. Passive and active therapies may be combined.

Cancer and Spinal Fractures

Spinal compression fractures can be caused by many things. While osteoporosis is the most common cause, certain types of cancer can cause a spinal bone to break or fracture.

Degenerative Disc Disease Center

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is typically associated with aging. As you age, your discs, like other joints in the body, can degenerate (break down) and become problematic.

Benefits of Balloon Kyphoplasty

One of the benefits of balloon kyphoplasty in the surgical treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) is it’s a minimally invasive procedure that may be performed on an outpatient basis.

How Balloon Kyphoplasty Works

Balloon kyphoplasty is a treatment for spinal compression fractures. Article is a step-by-step look at how kyphoplasty is performed.

Balloon Kyphoplasty: Frequently Asked Questions

Six balloon kyphoplasty frequently asked questions are answered in a discussion of treatment of spinal vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).

Spinal Fracture Self-Assessment Tool

Could your sudden and severe back pain be a spinal fracture? This questionnaire will help you determine if you should take steps to prevent bone loss and spinal compression fractures.

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

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

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

Inflammatory Arthritis Risk Quiz

Take this quiz to find out if you may be at risk for spinal inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
Information in this quiz is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. Content is not intended to substitute for consulting a medical professional. Always consult a trained medical professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard medical advice as a result of something you may have read on SpineUniverse.

Kyphoplasty, Vertebroplasty, Vertebral Augmentation Implant: Treatments for Spinal Compression Fractures

Vertebroplasty, balloon kyphoplasty and vertebral body augmentation are minimally invasive surgical procedures performed to stabilize the fracture and relieve back pain caused by with vertebral compression fractures.

Drugs, Medications, and Spinal Injections for Herniated Discs

There are many types of medications to help you manage the pain and symptoms often associated with a herniated disc in the neck or low back.

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.

Physical Therapy for Kyphosis

Physical therapy is an effective way to deal with kyphosis, especially postural kyphosis. Read what a physical therapist can help you learn about correcting your posture and strengthening your back muscles.

Common Kyphosis Questions

This quick reference helps answer some of the most common kyphosis questions.

Surgery for Upper Back Pain

Surgery for upper back pain is a last resort treatment option. The exact procedure is determined by your diagnosis, but this article explains several common procedures for upper back pain, including decompression and fusion.

Bracing for Spondylosis

A brace can provide support to your spine and help limit your spine's motion.

Alternative Treatments for Neck Pain

Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, capsaicin cream, or yoga, may be a part of your treatment plan for neck pain. Learn about other alternative treatments to help ease neck pain.

Ergonomics and Degenerative Disc Disease

Learn some basic ergonomic principles on how to adapt your work environment to protect your spine and prevent your back pain from getting worse.

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.

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 Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a progressive age-related spinal disorder that can lead to disc herniation or a bulging disc and contributes to spinal stenosis causing back pain.

Causes of Spondylosis

Spondylosis is often a result of aging and is a type of arthritis called spinal osteoarthritis. Aging and wear and tear contributes to degenerative changes in the spine causing neck and back pain.

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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