Spinal arthritis surgery

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. However, surgery is a major decision and can impact a person’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing. 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 condition. Spinal arthritis is characterized by inflammation and breakdown 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 skeletal cartilage. The symptom of a bone unprotected by cartilage, pain and/or a grinding sensation is common as bare 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 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 — This procedure includes the removal of lamina (the bony roof of the vertebral arch) and the removal of bone spurs (osteophytes) that cause nerve compression.
  • Spinal fusion — This procedure is the joining, through bone graft or hardware, of two or more vertebrae. It is 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 — This procedure is a cutting away of diseased or abnormal bone.
  • Osteoplasty — This procedure cuts away diseased or abnormal bone with artificial 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 — This procedure is 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 rehabilitation periods. If you feel that these may not be the right options for you, there are alternatives. Thanks to new advancements in spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that can address some causes of spinal arthritis symptoms.

These outpatient procedures can help you find relief from your spinal arthritis pain without the risks and lengthy recovery associated with open back surgery.§ For example, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery utilizes much smaller incisions compared to traditional open spinal fusions. Contact us today to learn how we can help you find relief from your debilitating spinal arthritis.