When is back surgery necessary?

For patients searching for treatment for chronic back pain, the thought of spine surgery may be taboo. After all, back surgery is often associated with several risks and failed surgery stories, all of which does not often fill patients with confidence when thinking about undergoing a back surgery procedure.

Contrary to popular opinion, spine surgery is not a common form of treatment for most spine conditions. In fact, about 75 percent of patients with diagnosed spine conditions find effective pain relief through months of conservative, nonsurgical methods of treatment, including pain medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes.

Though spine surgery is often not needed, it is important to monitor your pain and recovery to make sure your treatment is progressing effectively. For example, if you have been completing several months of physical therapy and your pain and symptoms have not decreased, you should consult your doctor about finding a new treatment method. Sometimes, when conservative treatment is not providing enough pain relief, back surgery is recommended.

Consult your physician or spine specialist

The best way to determine if back surgery is necessary to treat your pain is to consult your physician or spine care specialist. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your pain and symptoms by reviewing your MRI report or CT scan. Once the source of your pain has been determined, your doctor can move forward with treatment recommendations.

Many mild to moderate spine conditions are often treated with conservative treatments, while some severe injuries or damages to the spine may require surgery. Your physician can determine the extent of your spine condition or injury and help you find an effective treatment according to your needs.

Back surgery can become necessary to treat pain stemming from a number of sources, such as:

  • Disc herniation, degenerative disc disease and other disc disorders
  • Spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and facet disease
  • The presence of a tumor, infection or bone spurs*
  • Spinal fracture or instability
  • Nerve compression, sciatica or pinched nerves

Choosing the right type of back surgery

Once the source of your pain has been identified, you can discuss with your doctor all of the treatment options available to you. If you are recommended to undergo back surgery, you should take a moment to research what is involved in the different types of back surgery and decide which option you feel most comfortable with.

Traditional open back surgery — which can include discectomy and spinal fusion — may be recommended to address disorders and alleviate pain, but these open spine surgeries are massively invasive and can include lengthy periods of recovery as well as an increased risk of infection and failed surgery.

Alternatively, minimally invasive surgery has become a sought-out option for dealing with many common spine conditions. These minimally invasive, outpatient procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute use the latest techniques to address back problems without the increased risks of traditional open back surgery. While all procedures come with risk, our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery^.

For more information about the advantages of minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact our team today.