Fusion is not the only option for chronic lower back pain.
There are several common surgeries for chronic lower back pain caused by a degenerative spine condition. Fusion of the vertebrae is commonly recommended for more severe cases that require the removal of large amounts of tissue that would destabilize the spine. But when a fusion is performed as a traditional open spine surgery, it is a highly invasive procedure that comes with many drawbacks. If you have been recommended for a fusion surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulties, it is helpful to learn about other options that may be available.
Thoroughly explore conservative treatment
Upon diagnosis of a spine condition like a herniated disc, doctors are most likely to first prescribe conservative treatment options. In fact, by following a course involving exercise, periods of rest, medication, physical therapy, massage and other treatments, many patients are able to find the relief they need to resume the normal activities of daily life. Doctors may also recommend more involved nonsurgical treatment like an epidural steroid injection if initial treatments aren’t effective.
Traditional open spine fusion procedures
Doctors and patients alike view surgery as a last-resort treatment option due to the invasive nature of procedures, and so will wait until conservative options have been fully exhausted before exploring surgery. Traditional open spine fusion surgery on the lower back involves a large incision, the removal of all or part of a damaged spinal disc and the insertion of a bone graft to fuse the surrounding vertebrae and provide stability. Drawbacks of this approach include disruption of the surrounding muscles, blood loss, an overnight hospital stay and a long, sometimes difficult, recovery period.
Minimally invasive spine surgery
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional fusion procedures.^ Our minimally invasive decompression procedures involve a less than 1-inch incision and only the removal of disc material or other spinal tissue that is the source of painful nerve compression. We also perform minimally invasive stabilization surgery for patients who do require a fusion, however these procedures still involve a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques that allow it to be performed on an outpatient basis.
If your physician has recommended surgery to address your chronic back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about how we can help you find relief. We will review your MRI or CT scan for you at no cost* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.