When Spinal Surgery is Right for You (Pt. 1)

Enduring back pain and debilitating discomfort can be incapacitating for patients of all ages. If traditional forms of conservative treatment do not seem to be alleviating this suffering, spinal surgery may be the next appropriate step.

It’s important to understand conservative spinal care for those who feel they may need surgery to see if these strategies relieve pain beforehand. These can include applying ice or heat, physical therapy, moderate exercise, or simply waiting. Non impact home exercise routines, stretching, rolling and core build up programs can be both helpful and prevent future bouts. Swimming breast stroke for 20-30 minutes daily builds up supporting spine muscles. Back pain can go away with time, but know signs of a serious case when waiting to seek the help of a medical professional. Should you experience a fever or decreased bowel/bladder control, consult a physician immediately.

Though spine surgery should be a last resort option for many people, back surgery of any kind can be extremely effective in relieving persistent pain. One common debilitating symptom is radiating pain. Sciatica is often a strong indicator of someone suffering from a damaged disc. This is an intense pain that can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and legs. If you or someone you know experiences this sensation, traditional forms of rehabilitation are recommended before considering surgery. Up to 90 days in which a patient exercises and takes care of their back have been shown to alleviate this pain, but surgery can do so at a faster rate depending on the severity of one’s pain.

Microdiscectomy is a type of surgery for patients suffering from such damaged spinal disc, due to disc tear and deterioration over time with protrusion. This can cause the sides of the damaged disc to bulge outward and apply pressure to any surrounding nerves. In more extreme cases, the disc core can herniate and compress the more delicate interior of the spine. With the advent of improved magnification and illumination in surgery this can be performed in a non disruptive minimally invasive fashion. One can expect to return to an active routine much improved in a short time.

Spinal stenosis is common among older patients. This is when the area surrounding the spine is narrowed, leading to a higher risk of pain through protruding discs or ligaments. A few signs of this include leg pain upon standing up or walking short distances that is then relieved when sitting, pain leaning forward or backward, and sciatica. Spinal fusion or a laminectomy can help if physical therapy and medication fails to do so.

In my next blog, I will be covering a number of other spinal conditions and how to treat those as well.

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