When is degenerative spine surgery necessary?

If you were recently diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition, you might be wondering about surgery and whether you will need to have a procedure performed either now or in the distant future. In all likelihood, you will not. That’s because most physicians recommend surgery only for patients who need immediate surgical intervention to address a rare but serious complication known as cauda equina syndrome and for those who have not achieved meaningful symptom improvement after four to six weeks of conservative treatment. This means that, unless you are facing an emergency situation, you will likely be advised to begin with a nonsurgical treatment plan.

Usually, the symptoms of a degenerative spine condition will respond well to conservative therapies or even subside on their own. For these reasons, it’s best not to rush into any type of surgery, which may ultimately prove to be unnecessary. But, you may need to do something to manage your discomfort in the meantime. Your physician may be able to help in that regard.

The starting point for your treatment

After thoroughly evaluating your medical history, specific diagnosis, general health and symptoms, your physician can recommend an appropriate treatment approach for you. Here are some conservative options that are commonly used before degenerative spine surgery is considered:

  • Stretches
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

After committing to a nonsurgical treatment program for several weeks or months, you may find that your symptoms have improved enough that you are no longer even thinking about degenerative spine surgery.

If the pain continues or worsens

While often effective, conservative treatments can only alleviate the symptoms of a degenerative spine, while surgery can directly address their underlying cause, be it a bulging disc, bone spur or other spinal issue. Therefore, if you did not achieve sufficient results with nonsurgical methods, surgery may be an appropriate next step for you.

Minimally invasive spine surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive degenerative spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to highly invasive open neck and back procedures.^ Our dedication to our patients has made us the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. This advantage grows every week, leading to a higher level of expertise, as Laser Spine Institute helps thousands of patients get their lives back.

To find out if you’re a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.