Many people face trouble with pain in the lower back. The spine is crucial for both support and the nervous system of our body. This makes the pain all the more painful. Surgery is to be considered as the last alternative after all the other treatments prove ineffective.
There are many treatment methods for back pain before considering surgery. Treatments like physical therapy, injections and acupuncture can relieve your back pain. Spinal surgeries are especially risky and often surgery does not relieve pain. To know more about non-surgical treatments, click here.
Unless your physician tells you that you’ve exhausted all your non-invasive options and surgery is the only way forward, you should avoid getting under the scalpel. There are mainly four types of back surgeries –
- Discectomy: A discectomy is performed when the patient has numbness in the lower back due to nerve compression or to treat leg weakness/ numbness. It is a process where the material, which is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root, is removed. The herniated portion of the intervertebral disc is removed. This surgery lessens the pain, numbness and increases the mobility of your back. A discectomy could be performed on any part of your spine.
- Laminectomy: A laminectomy is performed to remove bone spurs or a tumour from your spine. It can also be performed to access a ruptured disc in the spine. In a laminectomy, lamina (the rear bone that covers the spinal cord) is cut to decompress the spine. Nerves could be compressed by disc enlarging, bone spurs or ligament tissue. These can be very painful as they are sensitive. The compressed nerve roots are removed surgically to relieve pain and improve function.
- Spinal Fusion: Spinal fusion is the most common spinal surgery in India. Most of the back pains are due to spinal curve deformity. This deformity hinders movement and also bodily functions like breathing. Spinal fusion is mainly used to treat degenerative disc disease. In this surgery, two or more vertebrae are fused with a healthy bone and locked in place with metal rods and screws. The surgery can correct the spinal curvature by 50 to 70 per cent in most cases. This is a permanent solution to fix the alignment problem of the spine and degenerative problem.
- Vertebroplasty: Vertebroplasty is used to treat compression fractures in the spine. Kyphoplasty is a similar procedure that treats compressional fractures. When the spine fractures and compresses, the nerve endings are affected and result in agonizing pain. In these procedures, a balloon is inserted to make space. Bone cement is then injected into the fracture to lift the spine back to normal height and put the vertebraein their place. Vertebroplasty is generally to treat fractures in spine caused by accidents and to improve osteoporosis.
With many medical institutes, spinal surgery in India is more common than it was ten years ago. Nevertheless, spinal surgery has a high risk – 40 per cent of spinal surgeries are not successful. Understand that surgery is the last resort for your back problems.