Back pain can be extremely persistent and difficult to deal with, since it affects almost all aspects of your daily life actions, including the most basic ones like walking and sleeping. Many people undergo various treatments such as home-made recipes or non-operative treatments, and in most cases, they’re taking lots of pain relievers, before facing the music and realizing it’s high time to get back surgery.
The main types of back surgery are spinal fusion, laminectomy, and discectomy. If you’re one of the many who have tried all the alternative methods mentioned before and haven’t noticed any signs of recovery, it may be time to consider surgery. Of course, before you do so, you’ll ask for a second opinion, do thorough analyses and independently estimate whether you need surgery or not. Below we summarized the pros and cons, and benefits and risks of undergoing each of the three main types of back surgery.
1. Spinal fusion
Spinal fusion is the most common surgery for back pain since it’s performed in cases of chronic nonspecific back pain with degenerative changes. The procedure is, as the name suggests, about fusing bones of the spine, or vertebrae, together to stop the motion from occurring. When both the vertebrae and spine are fused, the joint can’t move and the pain is therefore reduced. Spinal fusion may be caused or aggravated by movements such as bending, lifting or generally twisting. This procedure may also be used for younger people in order to stop the progression of a spinal deformity, such as scoliosis, or to stabilize vertebrae that become looser due to a defect in the facet joint. Although bones do not always and necessarily fuse completely, in most cases, this surgery does not interfere with your daily life, nor does it limit your physical activity. However, smoking can make such complications, and in that case, you would need an additional operation.
On the other side, laminectomy requires a different process. The surgeon removes the lamina, which is a part of the bone that makes up the vertebrae in your spine. Apart from this, bone spurs or certain ligaments in the back may also be removed during this procedure, and by removing them, there is an extra room created in the spinal column. The compressed nerve root often causes both back and leg pain, which is exactly why extra room in the spinal column is what patient needs in order to get rid of the pressure, pain, and weakness in their bones. This option is ideal for those who are dealing with severe and chronic pain or loss of function due to bone spurs. However frightening and risky it may sound to have a part of the entire lamina removed, there is no need to fear such a procedure. Modern medicine has advanced so much that operations like this one are performed on a regular basis, quickly and painlessly, especially if performed by professionals like Australian neurosurgeon Dr. Timothy Steel.
And the last, but not the least advised, discectomy is a procedure that targets the disc in the back that is herniated. It is based on surgical removal of abnormal disc material which presses the spinal cord of a nerve root in order to relieve pressure. Within this operation, there are two parts to be performed: the one is called percutaneous and the other is microsurgical. The first involves the removal of a portion of the disc using a laser or suction device, through a narrow probe placed through a small incision in your back, and the latter requires a small incision (less than an inch long). During this procedure, a surgeon uses a microscope and removes the damaged portion of the disk. Sometimes a discectomy can be part of a larger surgery that includes laminectomy, foraminotomy, or spinal fusion. However, as a result, the chances of a herniated disk ever occurring again are small to none.
Back and spine pain can be extremely frustrating and can limit your daily routine, work performance, and overall mood. Pain medications become unavoidable daily supplements, and even elementary physical activities start to feel extremely difficult. Needless to say, no one enjoys having to undergo medical procedures, unless necessary and it’s understandable that back pain surgery is usually considered the last option. However, it’s important to note that it does not have to be an unpleasant experience, and with enough information and the right care, you will be ready to get back to your regular and healthy lifestyle in no time.