January 4, 2018
You may have seen the ads — a dad is playing basketball with his small son in the driveway of their home and the man lifts his son over his head, while the narrator encourages viewers to stop putting off surgery for back pain.
And maybe such ads have gotten you to ask whether spine surgery might be right for you. The question is a valid one, and the ad makes it seem as if it is a minor surgery done with lasers needing an incision so small, only a small adhesive bandage is needed.
As with most surgeries, however, it is never as simple as the ads suggest. Lasers are very rarely used in spine surgeries. More common minimally invasive surgeries use tubular retractors and endoscopic approaches similar to arthroscopic knee surgery.
Nevertheless, minimally invasive surgery does have many benefits, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In contrast to open spine surgery, minimally invasive surgery can offer shorter procedure time, lower risk of infection, less blood loss, faster recovery time, less trauma to the muscles and soft tissues compared to open surgeries, and reduced anesthesia risks.
So you may have wondered if your own condition can be treated with a minimally invasive surgery. In general, if your back pain is caused by spinal instability, bone spurs, bulging discs, abnormal curvature, or a tumor, you may be eligible for a minimally invasive surgery.
What Can Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Treat?
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, common minimally invasive, small-incision spinal surgeries for back pain are lumbar discectomy and lumbar fusions. These are used to treat conditions that may include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Vertebral compression fractures
- Spinal instability
- Spinal tumors
- Spinal deformities such as scoliosis
- Spinal infections
Who Is Eligible for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Eligible candidates for minimally invasive surgery for low back pain should have already tried and failed nonsurgical treatment options. These include such simple things as changes in activities, heat or cold therapy, massage, and exercise. Chronic pain may require an evaluation and assessment by a physical or occupational therapist of your walk, posture, or work habits with treatments that may involve electrotherapy, ultrasound, and or specific back exercises. For others, a specialist will use imaging studies and other examination procedures to determine whether medicine or surgery may be needed.
Before considering minimally invasive surgery your doctor will want to pinpoint the source of your pain in order to determine whether surgery will address and remove the source of the pain.
Who Is Not Eligible for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
It is also important to note that surgery may not be right for you. Some patients, for a variety of reasons including age, other medical conditions, or location of the pain source, simply may not be candidates for surgery, regardless of whether it is open or minimally invasive. Even though you may have significant pain and other treatments have not worked, some types of chronic low back pain simply cannot be treated with surgery.
Get the Help You Need Today
At Healthcare Associates of Texas, we specialize in finding the optimal treatment for you. We offer an integrated approach with primary care specialists and physical therapists working together to ensure that whatever treatment option used is the optimal treatment for your condition and your lifestyle.
We are happy to review your MRI, discuss your options, and answer all your questions to ensure you get the best treatment for you. Make an appointment at one of our six locations or call (972) 258-7499.