Lumbar back surgery
Lumbar back surgery is a treatment that may be recommended for lower back problems after conservative treatments have been exhausted. While spinal surgery is typically seen as a last resort, it is sometimes necessary if several months of conservative treatment have not provided sufficient pain relief for a good quality of life.
Before you choose to undergo lumbar back surgery, you should review the types of lumbar surgery available to you. There are two main options for you to consider: traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. By understanding your options, you can be more confident in your decision about lumbar back surgery.
Conditions treated by lumbar back surgery
The lumbar spine degenerates faster than any other part of the spine, mainly because of the responsibility of the lower back to support and stabilize the majority of the body’s weight.
The lumbar spine typically consists of the five largest vertebrae in the back. The lumbar segment supports a person’s upper body weight and the soft discs in between each vertebra allow for flexibility and movement in the lower back. Because of the daily stress placed on the lumbar spine, the risk of developing a degenerative spine condition is increased in this section more than in the cervical (upper) or thoracic (middle) regions.
The most common lumbar spine conditions include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Sciatic nerve compression
- Bone spur
- Arthritis of the spine
When a lumbar spine condition develops, nerve compression and painful symptoms may also occur. The most common symptoms of lower back problems are:
- Chronic lower back pain, soreness and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness and tingling in the legs and feet
- Other symptoms of radiculopathy
Before lumbar back surgery is considered, a series of nonsurgical treatments is often recommended. These treatments can include pain medication and physical therapy, massage, hot/cold therapy and lifestyle changes, like posture improvement. While these conservative treatments are often effective for pain relief, not all patients will benefit and some may be recommended for spine surgery.
Types of lumbar back surgery
There are two main approaches to lumbar back surgery available to patients: traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to highly invasive traditional open back surgery which requires hospitalization, involves a larger incision and results in an extended recovery time. Unlike traditional open back surgery, minimally invasive lumbar surgery, cervical surgery and thoracic surgery at Laser Spine Institute are performed as outpatient procedures. The result is a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complication and infection.^