The decision to undergo spinal arthritis surgery may seem like an easy choice when the severely debilitating symptoms of spinal arthritis are affecting your quality of life. Surgery, however, is a major event, physically, psychologically and financially. It is important to gather as much information as possible before deciding that spinal arthritis surgery is the right treatment option.
Election for surgery should be preceded by extensive self-education concerning the effects of surgery as well as all of the surgical options available to treat the malady. Spinal arthritis is characterized by inflammation and deterioration of the spinal facet joints. Spinal arthritis may manifest as either osteoarthritis (the most common form; defined by degradation of spinal cartilage through activity or trauma) or spinal rheumatoid arthritis (less common, but more debilitating; defined by the body’s attack on its own joints). A healthy joint should move fluidly and seamlessly. As inflammation and the resulting degeneration destroy the joint, movement is hampered by roughened or disintegrated articular cartilage. The symptom of a bone unprotected by cartilage, pain and/or a grinding sensation is common as denuded bones rub against one another. If you are one of the millions of people who live with this condition, this painful feeling of spinal arthritis symptoms is already a reality. Medical science has not yet perfected treatments to replace articular surface cartilage effectively. Stem cell and other treatments are under development.
If your physician has diagnosed you with spinal arthritis and suggests that surgery might be a way to relieve pain, some common procedures that may be suggested include:
- Laminectomy – removal of lamina (the bony roof of the vertebral arch) and the removal of bone spurs (osteophytes) that cause nerve compression
- Spinal fusion – joining, through bone graft or hardware, of two or more vertebrae; meant to eliminate mobility and pain and also used to bolster the spine when bone has been removed in procedures like a laminectomy or foraminectomy
- Osteotomy – a cutting away of diseased or abnormal bone
- Osteoplasty – a cutting away of diseased or abnormal bone with artifical or natural boney replacement. Osteoplasty of the extremities is common, for example, in knee replacement. Osteoplasty of facet joints has not yet been developed.
- Foraminectomy – a form of spinal arthritis surgery that enlarges neural foramen by removing significant amounts of bone
Generally, the above options for spinal arthritis surgery are traditional, open back surgeries that require hospital stays and long rehabilitative periods. If you feel that these may not be the right options for you, there are alternatives. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive surgical procedures that can address some causes of spinal symptoms. Contact us today to learn how tens of thousands of people have found relief at Laser Spine Institute from debilitating spinal arthritis.