Back surgery is necessary for some patients to alleviate chronic back pain, especially if you’ve tried other treatments and nothing else has been effective. We don’t usually recommend this treatment unless your pain is severe enough to interfere with your daily life. We advise our patients to seek assistance for pain relief to see if spine surgery is the best course of action.
Examples of Conditions That May Require Surgery
Sometimes, you’ll need back surgery if you have chronic issues with pain and numbness that extends down the arms and legs. A disc problem such as a bulging or ruptured disc could be the culprit. The discs could irritate the surrounding nerves, and if the issue doesn’t heal on its own, it may require surgery to take the pressure off of the nerve.
You might have an overgrowth of a bone that resulted from osteoarthritis. The growth tends to affect the joints in the back. Ultimately, these growths narrow the space available for the nerves, which results in irritation and possible nerve damage.
Types of Back Surgery
One type of spine surgery is a discectomy, which consists of removing the herniated area of the disc. It relieves inflammation and irritation of the nerve. During the procedure, the surgeon may remove all or part of the vertebrae in the spine in order to easily access the disc. To correct a bone issue, the surgeon may perform a laminectomy, which consists of the removal of the bone that’s irritating the nerve. As a treatment for issues like spinal stenosis, the procedure enlarges the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the affected nerve.
An artificial disc implant helps relieve pain caused by the vertebrae coming in contact with one another. This is beneficial for degeneration or a severely damaged disc. This isn’t an option for many patients, but it is still worth discussing with your surgeon if you’re experiencing back pain. A fusion surgery attaches two or more bones in your spine to address issues with instability. In some instances, it’s used to relieve painful movements from the vertebrae coming contact with one another from an injured or degenerative disc.
Back Surgery Approaches
Originally, spine surgery was an open surgery, meaning it consisted of a long incision to allow the surgeon to have access to the spine and its surrounding tissue. Today, spine surgeries are minimally invasive, which means they’re less painful and less time consuming to recover from. Minimally invasive surgeries don’t require long incisions, and the surgeon strives to not have to cut near the muscle or tissue. In some cases though, minimally invasive surgeries aren’t an option, and open surgery is required.
One of three surgical approaches may be taken: anterior, posterior or lateral. An anterior approach occurs when the surgeon accesses the spine through the abdomen in the front region of your body. A posterior approach is made on your back while a lateral approach is when the surgeon makes the incision on your side.