Knowing When You Need It | The Different Types of Back Surgery
Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in America, experienced by about half of all Americans. In many instances, the pain is short term and can be alleviated with anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, or a graduated program of exercise. In certain situations, though, surgery is the best option.
How to Know If You Need Back Surgery?
A number of situations call for serious consideration of back surgery:
- a herniated or ruptured disc (the soft tissue that forms a cushion between your vertebrae),
- vertebral fractures,
- spinal stenosis, where a narrowing of your spinal column is putting undue pressure on nerves or on your spinal cord,
- spondylolisthesis, a condition where bones in your spine are prone to slipping out of place, and
- any type of degenerative disc disease.
The Different Types of Surgical Procedures for Your Back
An experienced back surgeon can typically offer a number of options, depending on the nature of your condition:
- discectomy—A herniated disc may be removed, so that it no longer puts pressure on nerves or the spinal cord.
- spinal fusion—In this surgical procedure, a disc is first removed and the two adjoining vertebrae are fused together with screws or bone grafts.
- artificial disc replacement—This involves implanting a synthetic disc in place of a damaged one.
- vertebroplasty—Vertebral fractures may be surgically glued back together with bone cement.
- spinal laminectomy—This is a common treatment for spinal stenosis. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the bony walls (laminate) of your vertebrae, including any bone spurs that may be causing pain.
- foraminotomy—In this procedure, surgeons enlarge the hole where your nerve roots come out of the spinal canal, so that bulging discs don’t impinge on the nerve.