Back pain is the world’s second cause of absence from work. Surgery often fails to alleviate the pain. Find out what is causing your back pain and whether surgery could help.
Injuries, aging, improper body function, normal wear and tear, all these can cause your back pain. A damage somewhere in your back or pressure on the nerves of the spine can cause back pain and/or other symptoms. If you suffer from chronic back pain, the question is – Can back surgery help me get rid of this pain?
The most recent studies have shown that most back pain does not require surgery, only a small percentage of cases require back surgery. The majority of back pain can be solved with non-surgical (conservative) treatments, such as administration of anti-inflammatories, heat and/or cold applications, podiatry, diet, physiotherapy, chiropractic, orthopaedic manual therapy, medical training therapy, etc. … Only if multiple conservative treatments have not helped, surgery may be the solution to relieve back pain.
When do you need a back surgery?
- In the case of compression of a spinal nerve causing long-lasting debilitating pain in the back and/or numbness in the back of the legs.
- In the case of a herniated disc, the spinal nerve is compressed.
- In some herniated disc cases – the intervertebral discs are the soft part between the vertebrae (bones) of the spine.
- If you have a fractured spine.
- If you have a fractured spine or other damage to the spine caused by an accident.
- If you have a vertebral fracture and/or spinal instability due to osteoporosis.
- If you have already been treated and conservative measures have failed to alleviate your back pain or other symptoms.
The following conditions may require an operation if the disease is PROGRESSIVE, VERY painful or has a prolonged history of back pain co-occurrence:
- Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
- Kyphosis, a hump formation in the thoracic vertebrae.
- Espondilistesis, displacement of a segment of the spinal column.
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the vertebral canal.
- Radiculopathy, irritation and inflammation of a nerve caused by a hernia.
- Degeneration, the development of pain in the intervertebral disc due to wear.
Several intervertebral disc operations
To relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, surgeons may remove parts of the bone. This is to increase the reduced passage of the spinal cord or nerves that pass through the vertebrae. They may also remove the protruding jelly-like portion of an intervertebral disc to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve.
- Discectomy: This is the partial or total removal of an intervertebral disc. The most common application in cases of hernia.
- Lamina ectomy: This procedure involves removing the bone surrounding the spinal cord. The spinal canal is enlarged and this relieves pressure on the nerves/spinal cord (stenosis).
- Fusion: This procedure involves removing the bone around the spinal cord.
- Fusion: Spinal fusion by permanently connecting two or more vertebrae of the spine. It can relieve pain by stabilising the spine. Sometimes it is used to immobilise painful movement between the vertebrae, which can be generated by a degenerated or damaged intervertebral disc.
- Vertebroplasty: This involves injecting bone cement into the collapsed vertebra. This can be useful for broken vertebrae that cause pain. Kyfoplasty is a similar procedure, but much more expensive. Kyphoplasty is the insertion of a balloon into the cavity of the vertebra that has been compressed and then injecting bone cement.
- Disc prosthesis: The implantation of an artificial disc is an alternative treatment to vertebral fusion (arthrodesis).
consider ALL OPTIONS
Before accepting back surgery, it is advisable to get a second opinion from another spine specialist. Surgeons differ in their opinions about when to operate and what type of operation is needed.