Back pain can be a challenging condition to diagnose and manage effectively. Sometimes, conservative treatments for back pain offer limited relief, or they may not work at all. Chronic back pain can significantly impact your ability to enjoy daily activities, work, or even rest comfortably. Additionally, treating back pain can be complicated since there are often multiple factors contributing to pain. If you’re experiencing pain and a loss of function, surgery might be a viable option to help alleviate your symptoms. Here is a breakdown of the six types of back surgeries you should know about.
Six Types of Back Surgery
Before you receive spinal surgery, your surgeon will work with you to assess whether traditional or minimally invasive surgery is the best course of action. Traditional surgery involves a larger incision, more muscle involvement, and a longer recovery time.
On the other hand, minimally invasive surgery utilizes small incisions, compact surgical equipment, and robotic assistance to minimize muscle and tissue damage. The result is less pain, reduced scarring, and a shorter recovery time. It’s important to note that not all situations are suitable for minimally invasive surgery.
Several types of surgical procedures are available, each aiming to address specific conditions or injuries that may be causing back pain.
1. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
These procedures repair compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. During the surgery, a special cement is injected into the cracks in the spine. As a result, fractures are strengthened as the cement hardens the bone.
2. Spinal laminectomy (decompression)
A laminectomy creates more space in the spinal canal for the nerves. It involves the removal of a section of the spinal canal known as the lamina, enlarging the canal. Widening the spinal canal relieves the symptoms of pinched nerves or pressure.
When a damaged disc bulges out of place and puts pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root, a discectomy may be necessary to remove the affected portion of the spinal column. This type of surgery often involves removing part or all of the vertebra to access the disc and may be coupled with spinal fusion for added stability.
Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure that aims to widen the point where a nerve root exits from the spinal canal. If a bulging disc or thickened joint compresses a nerve, a foraminotomy is performed to remove bone and other tissue. The nerve root exits from the spinal canal through expanded openings, which help relieve the pressure on the nerve.
5. Spinal fusion
Spinal fusion surgery adds stability to a specific section of the spine by connecting two or more vertebrae. This process eliminates the movement between them, which helps prevent pressure and irritation to the nearby nerves and tissues. As the vertebrae heal, they become a solid unit, stabilizing and strengthening the spine and reducing pain.
6. Disc replacement surgery
During disc replacement, a surgeon removes all or part of the damaged spinal disc. An artificial disc is placed between the vertebrae, eliminating painful movement caused by injury, herniated discs, or disc degeneration.
Considering Whether Back Surgery Is Right For You?
Back pain can be very challenging to live with. Surgery aims to reduce your discomfort and improve your spine’s function. To achieve this goal, most procedures aim to decompress nerves, stabilize the spine, or both. If your pain persists despite non-invasive treatments, it may be worth discussing the possibility of surgery with your doctor.
If you think back surgery may be right for you, schedule an appointment today!