Jason M. Highsmith, MD's portrait
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
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

Conditions Treated with Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Because of rapid advances in technology, many spine conditions, such as sciatica and spinal stenosis, can be treated using minimally invasive spine surgery.

What Is Microdiscectomy?

Microdiscectomy is one of the most common minimally invasive spine procedures. Also known as microdecompression, microdiscectomy is a type of decompression technique that takes pressure off your spinal cord or nerve roots to relieve your pain.

What Is Microlaminectomy and Microlaminotomy?

Learn why these procedures may be an attractive option compared to open laminectomy and laminotomy.

TLIF and PLIF: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeries

Learn what spine conditions TLIF and PLIF are most commonly used for, how they can be performed minimally invasively, and the potential risks associated with these spine surgeries.

Anatomy of Spondylolisthesis

To better understand why spondylolisthesis can cause low back pain and a change in body appearance such as swayback, it helps to know about basic spinal anatomy. This article explains how vertebrae work together to help you move.

Exams and Tests for Spondylolisthesis

Most people find out they have spondylolisthesis when they have an x-ray for another problem, and it reveals a slipped vertebra.

Common Spondylolithesis Questions

Five common questions about spondylolisthesis answered, including how it may develop, symptoms, and treatment options.

Rest: A Treatment Option for Spondylolisthesis

Doctors no longer recommend extensive bed rest for back pain caused by spondylolisthesis. They may suggest 2 to 3 days of rest, and you may need to take a break from activities that make back pain worse.

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Some people live with spondylolisthesis (forward slip of a vertebra) without knowing it. Article lists the common symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis

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

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.

Exercise and Herniated Discs

Exercise and stretching can help relieve your herniated disc pain and other symptoms. But what kind of exercise is best? Find out in this spine expert-written article.

Surgery for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis surgery: Important information about 3 common surgical procedures in this spine surgeon-reviewed article.

Physical Therapy for Spinal Stenosis

Physical therapy can help relieve your back pain and other spinal stenosis symptoms. Learn what will happen during a physical therapy appointment.

Alternative Treatments for Spinal Stenosis

Alternative treatments for spinal stenosis are just that: alternatives to medication, physical therapy, or surgery. Find out about common alternative treatments for spinal stenosis.

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

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.

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.

Articles Reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

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.

Drugs and Medications for Spondylolisthesis

Learn about treatments for spondylolisthesis, including over-the-counter medications (such as Tylenol), prescription medications, and epidural steroid injections.

Facts and Tips about Spondylolisthesis

True or false? Spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain in teenagers. Article provides facts and tips about spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis Prevention and Relief

There are numerous things you can do to help prevent spondylolisthesis and improve the health of your spine. Get 10 tips that can help prevent and relieve spondylolisthesis.

Spinal Bracing: A Treatment Option for Spondylolisthesis

Depending on the severity of your spondylolisthesis, your doctor may have you wear a brace or corset to help support your spine. You won't have to wear it all the time; your doctor will create a spondylolisthesis treatment plan just for you.

Spondylosis Prevention and Relief

You cannot stop your body from growing older, but you can do a lot to improve the health of your spine.

Causes of Spondylosis

Spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) is caused primarily by aging: As you age, the parts of your spine wear out, perhaps causing pain.

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.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

The easiest-to-recognize symptom of kyphosis is a rounded back. The extreme curve in your upper spine will cause you to hunch forward, but there are other symptoms, including potentially severe back pain.

Drugs, Medications, and Spinal Injections for Spinal Stenosis

Pain and symptoms related to spinal stenosis in the neck or low back can sometimes be managed by over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Spinal Stenosis Prevention

You can’t prevent aging, which is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. But if you already have spinal stenosis, getting regular exercise and using proper body mechanics may help reduce the chances of your spinal stenosis from getting worse.

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.

Drugs, Medications, and Spinal Injections for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a common spinal disorder that can cause neck or low back pain. Patients and their doctors have many different types of medications to choose from, including spinal injection therapies.

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.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a progressive age-related disorder that can cause a disc to bulge or herniate, and contributes to development of spinal stenosis.

Financial Disclosures

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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.

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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

Boston Scientific, Globus Medical, Covidien
Speakers' Bureau
Boston Scientific, Globus Medical, Covidien, St. Jude Medical