When Spine Surgery is Necessary
Do you have persistent backaches that don’t seem to go away? Back pain is one of the most frequent chronic problems in the United States. If you’ve been suffering from significant back pain for a long time, it’s normal to question when spine surgery is necessary. However, while surgery can reduce certain causes of back pain, it does not occur frequently. Back pain often heals itself in a few months or less with proper therapy. While surgery may appear a viable solution to address persistent back pain, in most circumstances, surgery does not occur in our practice unless absolutely necessary.
In reality, for many patients, spine surgery is not needed and we find other therapies and methods to relieve nagging pain. For instance, non-surgical treatments for back pain, such as over-the-counter pain medications and physical therapy, are frequently effective. Surgery, however, can result in the best solution for some conditions, despite its rarity. Please contact one of our spine experts who can perform an in-person physical examination to evaluate the best treatment for your situation.
Is Back Surgery Necessary for Your Condition?
The following are some of the problems that may necessitate back surgery:
- A slipped disc that does not self-correct
- Bone spurs or expansion of bone in the spine
- Degenerative spinal disorders that cause pain and weakness, such as stenosis
- A fractured or dislocated bone
- A spinal infection
- A spinal cord tumor
Furthermore, just because you have one of these conditions does not indicate that surgery is the only solution to your pain, and it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint the source of back pain. X-rays can sometimes identify a disc condition that isn’t the source of the pain. This is why it is critical to see a spine specialist before considering back surgery. Here are some steps you should take to make a decision:
The choice to conduct surgery on someone with lower back pain requires careful consideration of the patient’s symptoms as well as the findings of screening procedures such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. These tests frequently reveal problems like bulging discs or stenosis, which occurs with a narrowing of the space in the spine that might put pressure on a nerve. Even if a patient has back pain and imaging reveals a problem, it doesn’t guarantee the two are connected. That is why diagnosing the cause of back pain requires a Spine Specialist.
Identify Causes and Weigh Options
A well-known physician stated that he does not suggest surgery for most lower back disorders unless patients experience pain, weakness, or numbness in their legs, indicating nerve irritation, and even then, only if the doctors can identify the source of the pain. Figuring out the difference necessitates a thorough study of the patient’s symptoms. Many patients with spinal/back issues do not undergo surgery, and the first steps are physical therapy, home exercises, medication, and in certain cases, spinal injections are commonly prescribed. If the condition does not get better, then surgery may be a solution.
3 Indications you might need back Surgery
Doctors will advise that Back pain occurs in lots of people, yet the cause always becomes difficult to pinpoint. The amount and intensity of pain alone cannot determine if a patient needs back surgery, but it is one of the warning indicators to look for.
1 – Pain that Does Not Go Away
The typical length of acute back pain ranges from a few days to a few weeks. Furthermore, a prior study found that 75 to 90 percent of lower back pain sufferers improve after about a month. That may sound like fantastic news to someone who isn’t having back pain right now. But if you’re the one experiencing problems sitting, standing, walking, or sleeping properly, those few weeks might feel like a lifetime. Furthermore, if the pain has been severe for more than two weeks without any change, it’s not surprising that the idea of back surgery comes to mind. Although you may anticipate severe back pain to improve on its own, you don’t have to suffer through it. Your doctor may recommend that you try the following treatments:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Corticosteroid injections
- Epidural steroid injections
- Changes in lifestyle.
If these non-surgical therapy and maintenance solutions do not resolve your problems, you should definitely let your doctor know.
2 – The Pain Spreads to your Arms and Legs
Radiculopathy, often known as radiating pain, occurs when back pain radiates to the arms and legs. This frequently shows pressure on a nerve root in your spine. Surgery may be recommended depending on the reason and severity of the problem. Bone spurs and herniated discs are the most prevalent causes of radiating back pain. Spinal osteoarthritis causes bone spurs, also known as osteophytes. They arise when the articular cartilage in the joints of the spine wears away, resulting in bone-on-bone contact. Spurs of bone can grow around nerve roots, putting pressure on them. Disc herniation, on the other hand, happens when the jellylike inner layer of the spine protrudes through the fibrous outer layer. A herniation may put stress on a nerve root, resulting in radiculopathy. Before resorting to surgery, a spine specialist will, as is customary, try to suggest non-surgical and less invasive therapy.
3 – Severe Symptoms and Trauma
When back pain and related symptoms are the results of an emergency or trauma, a spine surgeon will usually opt to consider surgery. Accidents and catastrophic occurrences caused by chronic illnesses, such as cauda equina syndrome, are examples of emergencies. Cauda equina can result in extreme paralysis, making it an emergency situation. Infection, trauma, tumor, or persistent compression of nerve roots in the lower spine cause it. Severe back pain, sexual dysfunction, rapid loss of bowel and bladder control, and lower body weakness or numbness are all symptoms.
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Other Reasons When Spine Surgery is Necessary
- A spinal infection, or a high temperature accompanied by back pain, can indicate a spinal infection.
- A degenerative spinal disorder that causes adverse effects such as weakness, such as stenosis.
- A slipped disc that isn’t improving on its own.
- Bone spurs in your spine exert pressure on your spinal cord.
- You may have arm and limb weakness or numbness.
- You are having difficulty walking or moving your hands.
- You’ve lost control of your bladder or bowels due to an issue with your back’s nerves.
- Your backbone has been shattered or dislocated.
- You have a tumor in your spinal cord.
The following is an example of the questions our doctors will ask you.
- How severe is the pain?
- How frequently?
- When does it arrive, during the day or at night?
- Does it reach the leg, and if so, which leg and how bad is it?
- Is it tough to walk because of it?
In the best-case scenario, the imaging findings match the symptoms. The success rate of surgery in this situation is high. Whether you undergo surgery or not, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of experiencing back pain in the future. You can assist your spine and surrounding tissues to stay healthy if you keep healthy body weight, exercise regularly, consume a nutritious diet, and don’t smoke.
What are the Dangers of Undergoing Back Surgery?
Back surgery is more complicated than many other forms of surgery because it is performed so near to the nervous system. Sure there can be complications, but they are extremely rare with our surgeons. The amount of time it takes to recover depends on the type of surgery and your pre-operation condition, but as mentioned previously, our patients recover quicker than the national average.
Why Should You Choose the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute?
We seek to assist patients by providing professional surgical opinions, and if surgery is not required, we assist them in navigating alternative relevant options by providing them with the proper spine care for their specific situation. At our practice, we are dedicated to collaborating with our patients to explore non-surgical methods for pain relief. That method works in around 90% of our patients, and patients are able to resume an active lifestyle with little or no pain. However, surgical intervention is required in around 10% of our patients. The Spine doctors in our practice are extensively educated in spine treatments and undertake a wide range of standard and minimally invasive spine surgeries.
Based on the outcome parameters we track on our patients, we routinely get great results and you can view many of our patient video testimonials. Infection rates, for example, which is always a risk with any sort of surgery, are far lower than the national rate and our recovery times are faster than the national rate too. Minimally invasive surgery is carried out using specialized equipment through a few small incisions. Patients frequently experience less pain and recover faster as a result of our proven procedures. A spine team of experts evaluates each patient’s conditions to assess whether the patient is a candidate for minimally invasive surgery. Our spine team is capable of handling every spine condition, from the most basic to the most complicated, all within the same health system.
If you or your loved one is suffering from Severe Scoliosis or another complex spine condition, there is hope. We can help. Call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.