A spine is an essential part of the body that supports a range of activities, including general body movement. Generally, the spine is an interconnected complex organ that consists of bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. Therefore, any damage or injury that affects any of these organs could cause complications and other neurological symptoms and diseases.
As such, early diagnosis and treatment of any spinal condition is essential to avoid further damages. While there are several treatment options, spine surgery is the best treatment alternative for acute or chronic conditions. Apart from relieving pain and associated symptoms, it also helps restore and maintain the altered standard functions of the spine.
What is Spine Surgery?
Spine surgery is a medical procedure that aims at treating or correcting spinal disorders. It can be removing herniated disc so as to ease pain and other related symptoms. Furthermore, patients who undergo spine surgery often recover within a shorter period and regain their body functionality.
Surgeons and other medical specialists usually recommend spine surgery, particularly for patients with persistent or recurring pain. Also, signs and symptoms that last for several months, even after opting for non-surgical treatment options, can be best treated through spine surgery.
In addition, surgeons can only perform spine surgery if they discover that a lesion is the source of pain. However, if there is no lesion, then back surgery may not be the treatment option. Instead, other non-surgical treatment options can help with the situation.
Generally, the spine plays a significant role in giving the body its standard strength and stability when moving around. Moreover, the spinal vertebrae or bones reinforce the spinal cord and maintain their normal functions. Due to this, any spinal disorder should be immediately addressed to avoid complications and damages that could result in permanent mobility.
Types of Spine Surgery
There are various types of spine surgery procedures. However, most surgeons often opt for minimally invasive as the first option to address pain and solve back issues. An example of the minimally invasive method is an injection to ease the pain.
In case this method does not respond or solve the issues, the surgeon can perform minimally invasive spine surgery. The objective of minimally invasive spine surgery is to stabilize spinal joints and vertebral bones. It also helps minimize the pressure applied to spinal nerves. This pressure is the main cause of disorders such as bone spurs, spinal tumors, spine instability, herniated discs, or scoliosis.
Minimally invasive surgical approaches are safe, quick, and recovery duration is shorter. It also comes with other benefits such as;
- Less blood loss during the procedure
- Reduced risks and complications of muscle damages, infections, and postoperative pain
- It doesn’t require rehabilitation treatment
- better cosmetic outcome since it involves small skin incisions
Other common types of spine or back surgery include;
- Lumbar laminectomy (lumbar decompression surgery)
This is a surgical procedure done to rectify the narrowed spinal canal (spinal stenosis). During the procedure, the surgeon extracts a section or the entire lamina pressing against the spinal cord and causing extreme pain.
The overall goal of lumbar laminectomy is to widen the canal so as to release pressure. It can as well involve the removal of bone spurs and excessive tissues to enlarge the canal.
- Lumbar discectomy
Lumbar discectomy is a surgery to treat or correct an injured disc in the lower back. There are two different types of lumbar discectomy, including; open spine surgery and minimally invasive arthroscopic discectomy. However, most spine surgery doctors usually perform open spine surgery to treat a herniated disc in the lumbar region.
- Spinal fusion surgery
Spinal fusion procedure involves fusing or connecting two adjacent vertebrae to prevent pain that results whenever they move against each other. Here, the surgeon uses small special screws and rods to link the vertebrae. They are then left intact so that they can slowly heal and fuse with time. Sometimes, the surgeon can extract a small bone graft from a different body part and use it to fuse the vertebrae.
- Herniated disc surgery
This is a procedure to repair the herniated disc. The physician can remove the entire disc to allow the two adjacent vertebrae to fuse to prevent more disc pain. However, fusing the vertebrae makes the movement of the back region difficult. Due to this, both you and the surgeon should carefully discuss this decision and the associated consequences.
- Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
Surgeons usually perform these procedures to treat and repair compression fractures that result due to certain spinal conditions. The two treatment procedures involve injecting glue-like bone cement into the affected part. This helps strengthen and harden the bone.
- Nucleoplasty (plasma disk compression)
This laser type of surgery utilizes radiofrequency energy to cure lower back pain caused by a mild herniated disk. During the procedure, the physician inserts a small needle into the disk, and plasma laser equipment is then placed through the needle. The tip is then heated to vaporize the tissues within the disk. This eventually reduces the size and minimizes pressure in the nerves.
This procedure involves enlarging or widening the bony hole situated where the nerve root exits in the spine canal. This helps prevent the bulging joints or discs that widen over time from exerting pressure on the nerves.
- Artificial disk replacement
Artificial disk replacement is an alternative treatment for spinal fusion procedures. It’s used to treat and repair severely damaged discs or joints. It also involves extracting the entire disc and replacing it with synthetic discs. This is to help restore movement and normal height between the vertebrae.
Spinal Disorders That Require Spine Surgery
Some spinal disorders are minor and do not always require spine surgery. However, if the conditions are a bit complex, then a spine surgical procedure may be a better alternative. Generally, the common spine disorders that are best treated through surgery include;
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrow spinal column that exerts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves)
- Herniated or ruptured disks
- Spondylolisthesis (fracture or split of one or more spinal bones)
- Degenerative disc disorders or spinal disks damage due to old age
- Vertebral fractures resulting from spinal bone injuries or osteoporosis
- Spinal tumors and infections
- Spinal deformities such as scoliosis
Risks of Spine Surgery
People who undergo spine surgery can experience several risks and complications. This, however, depends on the spinal condition, the affected part, and the type of spine surgery. Just like any other surgical operation, spine surgery comes with certain risks such as;
- Severe bleeding in the surgical area.
- Anesthesia effects or reactions of certain medication.
- Heart attack
- Blood clotting in the lungs or legs.
- Herniated disk
- Nerve damage that could eventually result in pain, paralysis, loss of bowel, or body weakness.
How to Know If You Need a Spine Surgery?
Most patients with spine conditions can be treated through non-surgical options. These treatment options can range from medication, regular exercises, and physical therapies to spine injections. Spine surgery is, however, a treatment option if such conservative forms of treatment fail to work. It can also be recommended if pain persists or causes disabilities.
It helps ease associated pain and numbness, which runs down in either or both legs and arms. These associated symptoms usually occur when the nerves in the spine are extremely compressed.
The compression in the spinal nerves is caused by factors such as;
Disk disorders: Bulging or herniated disks is one of the major cause of nerve compression. The disks are the rubbery cushions that separate the spinal bones. Therefore, too much pressure against the spinal nerves can as well affect the overall functions.
Bone overgrowth: Spinal condition (osteoarthritis) can cause bone spurs in the spine. It’s an overgrown bone that usually alters the hinge joints located on the spinal column's hind area. It narrows down the amount of space that allows the spinal nerves to pass through the spinal cord openings.
Benefits of Spine Surgery
The primary objective of spine surgery is to alleviate pain. However, there are other significant benefits that come with this surgical procedure. It includes;
- Make you more physically fit
- Enhances general mobility
- Improves your moods by taking away the pain
- Enable you to resume your usual activities or work
- It makes you more active and productive
- You don’t necessarily have to take any pain drugs after the surgery
The spine is a significant part of the body that supports a range of activities and functions. As such, it’s important to ensure that your spine is always in good shape. If you sustain an injury or any other related disorder, finding the appropriate treatment options should be your major concern. Although there are various treatment forms, spine surgery is the best alternative to consider if you have a chronic condition.
CloudHospital is a medical platform that gives you access to spine surgery and other treatment options for spine-related conditions. Regardless of your situation, this facility consists of professional surgeons who can handle all kinds of spine disorders while utilizing state-of-the-art equipment.