Your backbone supports the spinal cord, which gives rise to nerve endings that stretch across your body. Supporting the backbone or vertebrae are complex tissues in the form of muscles. All of these parts work together to keep you upright and flexible through those daily chores. When you experience chronic back pain, however, you want a real solution. Spine surgery has come a long way since its simple beginnings. Take a close look at the current facts surrounding spinal surgery so that you can make an educated decision about your next procedure.
1. Your Doctor Will Try Nonsurgical Options First
Reputable doctors seek out the path of least resistance when it comes to back issues. They look for nonsurgical options that might relieve the pain. Dr. Gerald Alexander, Orange County Spine Surgeon says that during your initial visit, you will go over your medical history, discuss thoroughly your symptoms and perform a comprehensive physical exam. Relevant diagnostic tests will be ordered. Dr. Alexander encourages all patients to ask questions and participate in the treatment decision process. You know your symptoms and history best so your participation will help ensure the best possible outcome.
Medications and physical therapy are common starting points. There might be spinal injections too.
Your doctor will systematically use these options in order to solve your back problem. A combination of different therapies might work for you. Surgery will always be the last resort for pain relief.
2. There Are Several Surgery Types
The type of surgery that your body requires depends on the issue at hand. Pinched nerves, slipped disks and degenerating vertebrae are the most common issues facing patients. Each problem has a specific surgery attributed to it.
Doctors try to use small incisions to manage the surgery with tools placed into the body. These micro-surgeries have a shorter recovery time than open surgeries. Open incisions reveal most of the spine to the doctor. It takes weeks or months to recover from these procedures.
3. Multiple Surgeries May be Necessary
Doctors strive for one surgery that fixes every issue, but the problems may be more complex once the procedure begins. They repair the tissues that they can, and they close up the incision. As you recover, the doctor evaluates your pain levels. It may be necessary to perform another procedure in order to completely fix the issue.
Your doctor will go over these scenarios with you. Being patient with the number of procedures will help you recover faster because stress can worsen any condition.
4. Know That The Spine is Complex
Your surgery was a success. The spine and muscles move without any pain. This scenario is the ultimate goal, but there can be challenges in the future. The doctors focused on repairing one part of the spine. Pain can erupt in another area at any time.
Be aware that arthritis may be an issue as well. Doctors cannot fix arthritis because it’s a degenerative disease.
5. There Are Risks to Every Surgery
Your doctor will go over the risks of surgery. Whether the procedure is minimally invasive or entirely open, patients are vulnerable to infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. Many of the risks are rare, but you should still be aware of them.
Make plans for your recovery as the surgery approaches. If a risk factor does come into play, you don’t want to be scrambling for help at home or a ride to the doctor.
6. A Normal Life is Possible
People who go through a back-fusion procedure may be concerned about flexibility. You won’t feel stiff with today’s surgical techniques. In fact, a normal life with everyday movement is possible.
Doctors try to fuse only a few vertebrae so that you have the ability to bend and flex. Only rare and severe cases might require extensive fusions.
Remember to speak to a few different doctors before selecting a surgeon. Medicine is both a science and art. Every professional will have a different opinion about your health. You can take those opinions and move forward with your next step toward less pain in your back.