John D. Spears, D.O.

When spine surgery is an option,
The Missouri Spine Institute is the best option you have.

Spine Conditions

Cervical Stenosis, Myelopathy and Radiculopathy

These conditions affect the cervical spinal column, which is located inside the neck. The cervical spinal column is made up of seven vertebrae, discs and ligamentous bands with the spinal cord traveling through the middle.

With age, the spinal discs can begin to bulge, which can cause the space for the spinal cord to narrow. This is called cervical stenosis.

Cervical myelopathy refers to a loss of function in the upper and lower extremities—caused by spinal cord compression in the neck.

Cervical radiculopathy refers to a loss of function in a specific region within the upper extremity caused by irritation and/or compression of the spinal nerve root in the neck.

Herniated Cervical Disc

The spinal column is made up of bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord from damage. Discs, made of strong connective tissues, connect the vertebrae together and act as a cushion between them.

As you age, the disc may start to deteriorate, allowing the gel-like material in the center to herniate through cracks in the outer layer. When this happens, the herniated disc can press on nerves and the spinal cord causing pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the shoulders or arms.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the intervertebral discs and spinal facet joints begin to bulge and thicken. As they become larger, they push into the spinal canal and narrow the space available for the spinal cord.

Common symptoms can include pain or numbness in the back and/or legs. Cramping and weakness in the legs may also occur.

Herniated Lumbar Disc

The spinal column is made up of bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord from damage. Discs, made of strong connective tissues, connect the vertebrae together and act as a cushion between them.

As you age, the disc may start to deteriorate, allowing the gel-like material in the center to herniate through cracks in the outer layer. When this happens, the herniated disc can press on nerves and the spinal cord causing pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs called “sciatica.”

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a broad term that refers to a disc that has a tear, is bulging outward, is losing height, or is a darker color on specific MRI tests. While DDD is not life threatening, it can impact quality of life with a dull ache and pressure across the lower back.

Lumbar Spondylolisthesis

Lumbar spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae in the spinal column become unstable. Typically, one vertebra will shift forward over the next causing pain when standing and bending over a countertop or sink. The vertebral instability can also compress spinal nerves causing pain into the buttocks, down the legs, and to the feet. Numbness and weakness may also be experienced.


When the bone structure begins to deteriorate with age, bones become weak enough to break without a traumatic impact. The fractures are most common in the wrists, hips and spine and may be the first sign of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, by the time a fracture occurs, significant bone loss has already occurred. It is important to keep a careful watch on the level of bone mass early in life in order to prevent this condition.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis is when a developmental crack occurs in one of the vertebra, usually where the lower (lumbar) part of the spine meets the tailbone (sacrum). About 5% of the population has spondylolysis. Due to the location of the fracture, spondylolysis rarely heals as a normal bone. This condition could be harmless, or it could cause spondylolisthesis, which is when the cracked vertebrae slips forward over the vertebra below it. Symptoms of spondylolisthesis, if any are present, are low back and buttocks pain, numbness, tingling, pain, muscle tightness or weakness in the leg; increased sawy back; or a limp.


A persistent lateral curvature of the spine of more than 10° in the upright or standing position is called Scoliosis. There are several different types and causes of scoliosis, including congenital, neuromuscular, idiopathic, infantile, juvenile, and adolescent. Symptoms and signs of scoliosis include shoulder asymmetry, waistline asymmetry or tilt, trunk shift, and limb length inequality. Scoliosis is painless and should not cause any weakness or problems with movement.

Chronic Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain that has been sustained for more than three months is considered chronic. There can be many causes of chronic lower back pain, some of which are unknown. Symptoms could include aching, burning, stabbing, or tingling. The severity of pain can vary from mild to severe. Sometimes the pain continues even when the cause is no longer present.

Diagnosing chronic lower back pain includes ruling out diseases or injuries that could further harm the patient. There are a variety of possible treatment methods, such as physical therapy, medicine, coping skills, procedures and alternative medicine treatments.

Acute Low Back Pain

Around 80% of the population will experience a significant period of low back pain at some point in their lives. Acute low back pain is considered as low back pain that is present for up to six weeks. Symptoms vary in intensity and can include aching, burning, stabbing in one or both buttocks and in the hip/thigh area.

The exact cause of acute low back pain is unknown, and fortunately, the symptoms should subside over time though the duration is unpredictable. Treatment options for acute low back pain include staying active (as tolerated) and moving around as you normally would. Light activities such as walking or stretching keep blood and nutrients flowing to the affected area and will assist in healing.

SI Joint Pain

The SI joint is located where the sacrum (bottom portion of the spine) meets the iliac crest (part of your pelvis) and acts as a shock absorber between the back and pelvis. Pain in this area is often caused by increased motion through the joint and can be felt in the buttock or down the back of the leg.

To diagnose SI joint pain, your doctor may perform a physical exam and order x-rays, MRI, or an injection of local anesthetic if necessary. Treatment options include ice and anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, bracing, or an SI fusion if all other options have failed.

Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorder

Whiplash, or chronic neck pain, following a car accident can be caused by facet joint pain, disc injury, muscle strain of the neck and/or upper back, or spinal nerve and cord compression. Headaches, arm pain, heaviness, low back pain, and difficulties concentrating can all be symptoms of whiplash.

Treatment during the initial three months should include strength training and instruction on body mechanics. Medications are also helpful to manage the pain. If the problem persists, your doctor may consider a spinal injection or spinal manipulative therapy. Surgery for chronic neck pain is hardly ever necessary.


My husband and I have each had 2 surgeries by Dr Spears.

We could not be more pleased with the results. He’s all business and isn’t much interested in chatting, but when we listened without interrupting, we found most all of our questions had been answered.

We highly recommend Dr Spears to friends and family.

Elizabeth Hickman
Kirksville, MO

Only waited about 10 to 15 minutes. Dr. Spears was very straight forward. He didn’t beat around the bush. He told us exactly like it was and we appreciate that.

Finally someone with honesty, Integrity and a doctor that won’t put you through it if it isn’t going to do anything to help you!

I highly recommend him to anyone with spine/back issues. And although it wasn’t what we wanted to hear at least we know what lies ahead.

D. Goodman
Jefferson CIty, MO

Had c5 6 7 fusion. Absolutely satisfied excellent Surgeon!!!!!

Rich McDowell
Lake Ozark, MO

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