Sometimes, back surgery is the only option to alleviate a patient’s neck or back pain. Physicians will always try and manage the symptoms conservatively first, but if a patient doesn’t respond to non-surgical treatment, or the symptoms are debilitating, back surgery becomes necessary.
If this is the case, a patient has a number of potential surgical options, depending on the source of the problem. The most common site of back surgery is along the lumbar spine (lower back). The lower back has tremendous flexibility and a heavy weight burden, so this area of the spine often needs surgery to repair the injuries and degeneration that the lower back is vulnerable to. The cervical spine (neck) – which supports a wide range of movement for the head and shoulders – is also a frequent site of surgery. Thoracic spine surgery (mid back) is fairly uncommon because this area of the spine is anchored by the ribcage and does not have the same range of motion as the cervical and lumbar segments.
Traditionally, open back surgery has been used to treat a herniated disc or other spine condition that has not responded to conservative treatments like medication, rest and exercise. For example, a patient with degenerative disc disease might be told he or she needs a discectomy and spinal fusion, where the disc is removed and the vertebrae on the top and bottom of the removed disc are fused together with a bone graft and implants.
However, a number of potential complications can be associated with traditional open back surgery, including infection at the surgical site, the presence of scar tissue exacerbating pain, failed fusion, continued local or radiating pain and a recovery time of months or years. In the case of a traditional spinal fusion, the body may reject the bone graft or the pain may be transferred to another segment of the spine. Furthermore, a patient with a fused spine can expect decreased spinal mobility and flexibility.
With recent advances in laser technology and orthopedic surgery, spine surgeryhas become increasingly popular. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform more outpatient, minimally invasive spine surgeries each month than any other facility in the nation. We are able to treat many of the same spine problems that are addressed with traditional open back surgery, but our procedures provide the benefits of a much shorter recovery time, high success rates and fewer risks. At Laser Spine Institute, our procedures are performed with small incisions and in an outpatient setting.
For more information on the types of minimally invasive procedures available at Laser Spine Institute, and to have us provide a review of your MRI, contact Laser Spine Institute today.