Back Surgery Overview

Back Surgery

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: traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive 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 neck or back 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 traditional open spinal fusion where the damaged disc is removed and the vertebrae above and below the removed disc are permanently fused 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 traditional open back or open neck surgery. These procedures also do not typically require hospitalization or lengthy rehabilitation after the surgery.

Recovery and success rates from back surgery 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 postoperative 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 in the country. Eighty-seven percent of our patients have said they experienced some improvement or total pain relief within three months of their procedure.

At Laser Spine Institute, we believe in providing our patients with as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision about whether back surgery is right for them. To learn more about back surgery and the minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute, contact our award-winning staff today.