Back surgery is usually seen as an elective procedure that is only used after conservative pain management options have proven ineffective or the patient’s symptoms have become debilitating. Generally speaking, there are two back surgery approaches that are used to alleviate symptoms stemming from nerve compression in the spine: open back surgery and endoscopic spine surgery. In both methods, the surgeon is working to alleviate the impingement and irritation of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.
When nerve tissue in the spinal column is impinged and irritated, a patient can experience a variety of symptoms, known collectively as radiculopathy, including: local or radiating pain, muscle weakness, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Most commonly, this nerve agitation is caused by a bulging or herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis, arthritis in the spine, the presence of tissue build-up, and bone spurs.
Once the diagnosis of the back or neck problem has been confirmed through a complete medical exam and imagery such as an MRI, a number of surgical options may be presented. With open back surgery, a common procedure is spinal fusion where the damaged disc is literally removed and the vertebrae above and below the removed disc are permanently welded together. Artificial disc replacement (arthroplasty) is another possibility for some patients.
Alternatively, a number of minimally invasive, outpatient orthopedic procedures have been growing steadily more popular in recent years. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, are less painful, and have a shorter recovery time than open-back or open-neck surgery. These laser-assisted procedures also typically do not require hospitalization or lengthy rehabilitation after the surgery.
Recovery and success rates from back surgery also are varied, depending on the patient’s pathology. Success of the back surgery is typically relative; some patients experience immediate relief and others gradual. Success of a surgery is also closely related to the completion of post-operative rehabilitation and physical therapy. It is equally important that patients go into surgery with realistic expectations.
Laser Spine Institute is the largest minimally invasive spine surgery center in the nation. Our surgeons perform more minimally invasive neck and spine procedures per month than any other facility. 87 percent of our patients have said they experienced some improvement or total pain relief within 3 months after their procedure.
At Laser Spine Institute, we believe in providing our patients with as much information as possible to help make an informed decision about whether back surgery is right for them. To learn more about back surgery and the minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic spine procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute, or for a free review of your MRI or CT scan, contact our award-winning staff today.