5 Most Effective Surgical Procedures for Back Pain
Choosing to undergo any type of surgical procedure for back pain is not easy because of the invasive nature that they require. While the risks are relatively low and it’s rare for complications to develop, it does happen, which is why surgery is only recommended after other types of treatment have been employed with little to no success. The key to deciding whether or not surgery is for you is to understand the different types of procedures and the benefits they offer.
1. Spinal Fusion
One of the most common surgical procedures for back pain, spinal fusion involves the joining of two or more vertebrae. Bone tissues are taken from the patient or from a donor and used along with natural bone growth to fuse the vertebrae. This procedure is often used in cases where the pain is caused by the abnormal movement of the vertebrae. Thus, by fusing them together, it restricts their motion and generally reduces or eliminates the pain.
Spinal fusion is generally performed on the lumbar area of the spine but has also been used to successfully treat issues in the cervical and thoracic regions. Some of the conditions spinal fusion is often used to correct include spinal disc herniation, discogenic pain, degenerative disc disease, fractures in the vertebrae, spondylosis and scoliosis.
Laminectomy involves the removal of ligaments, bone spurs or parts of the bone in one’s back to relieve pain or weakness caused by pressure on the nerves of the spine. The problem with this procedure is that can often cause instability in the spine, in which case spinal fusion will be required. In fact, in some cases, a fusion of the spin will be performed at the same time as the laminectomy.
Foraminotomy is a type of surgery in which bone tissue is cut away from the lateral parts of the vertebrae to enlarge the channels through which the spinal nerves exit the spine and connect to the rest of the body. The goal is to provide the nerves with more room so they are no longer compressed by the bone tissue, thereby relieving pain.
This procedure is generally used in cases where these channels have become narrower due to compression by bone, scar tissue, excessive development of ligaments or discs, leading to pinched nerves. More often than not, this procedure is minimally invasive because it usually involves a small incision on the back of your neck and a small hole being cut into the vertebra after which an arthroscope is used to see into the openings and remove any material that is causing the compression.
For patients with a “slipped” disc, discectomy is the most common form of surgery, which involves the partial or complete removal of the disc. A disc is the soft cushion between the vertebrae, which has a softer, jelly-like interior, and a harder shell. A slipped disc is actually a herniation of the jelly-like interior, meaning that the soft part is pushing out through a crack in the exterior. This bulge can irritate nerves in its vicinity, leading to a lot of pain. It can also cause numbness and weakness of the extremities.
5. Disc Replacement
Disc replacement has become a popular alternative to spinal fusion because any damaged discs are replaced with artificial ones, thereby offering similar effects to those of spinal fusion without limiting the range of the spine’s motion. Furthermore, the attraction of this procedure is that the recovery time is also much shorter than if you were to undergo spinal fusion.
If you are suffering from a painful back the first recommendation is to seek out holistic therapies and lifestyle changes. A change of diet, an ergonomic posture chair, or a new fitness regimen might resolve all your problems.
When you have tried numerous treatments without success, your pain doctor might recommend surgery and since these are some of the most effective surgical procedures for back pain, you are likely to undergo one or more of them, depending on the severity of your condition.