Chronic low back pain, unfortunately, is an extremely common affliction. Millions of people suffer from a decreased quality of life because lower back pain prevents them from the wide range of activities they’re used to such as gardening, jogging, and trying the latest do-it-yourself home improvement projects. After all, the lower back allows us to twist, bend, pick up objects, and walk upright. Plus, the lower back also supports the majority of the body’s weight. After years and years of use and weight burden, it’s only natural for parts of the lower back to degenerate.
Chronic low back pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three months, and it typically originates in the lumbar region of the spine, which is categorized as five vertebrae called L1-L5 (although some people have six lumbar vertebrae). This region is situated below the cervical (neck) and thoracic (middle back) regions, and the laws of gravity would dictate that the lower back is naturally more prone to stress than the rest of the back.
Between each vertebra in the spine is an intervertebral disc, which is a cartilaginous pad that acts as a “shock absorber” for the spine’s movements. As we age, these discs are prone to degeneration, bulging, thinning, and herniation. Many problems that induce chronic back pain can arise from disc weaknesses. Other possible contributing factors are poor lifting techniques, improper posture, excess weight, and arthritis.
If a conservative rehabilitation routine – such as pain medication, exercise, chiropractic work, and rest – does not relieve your chronic low back pain, your physician may suggest surgery. There are a variety of different options for back pain surgery, including:
- Foraminectomy – neural pathways on either side of vertebrae are widened through the removal of bone
- Laminectomy – lamina, or bony “roof” of vertebrae, is removed
- Spinal fusion – two or more vertebrae permanently joined for added stability; screws or bone grafts are used
- Disectomy – complete or partial removal of the damaged disc that’s causing lower back pain
If you feel that you do want to consider surgery, but the long recovery periods of traditional, open-back surgery may not be for you, consider Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Our team of experts can give you more information on our progressive, endoscopic procedures that are done on an outpatient basis and involve extremely short recovery periods. Contact us for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.