Oh, your aching back! If you suffer from chronic back pain, you may be concerned that you have a condition that could require surgery to fix. While spinal surgery of any kind should always be a last resort, there are many conditions can be treated successfully with a “smaller” procedure called minimally invasive surgery.
What is minimally invasive surgery and how does it differ from traditional surgery?
In the past, many back problems were corrected with “open surgery,” a traditional approach that involved making an incision up to 8” long in the neck, back, abdomen or throat in order for the surgeon to access the affected area. Still the recommended method for some back conditions today, this is a major surgery that requires the patient to be hospitalized between 2-5 days, with an expected recovery time of six months to a year. On the plus side, open spinal surgery is a time-tested procedure and allows the surgeon to perform a complex surgery through a single large incision.
Minimally invasive surgery, a newer technique for spinal care,is generally a very safe and effective way to treat spinal pain caused by certain conditions. It involves the use of a much smaller incision and can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include less blood loss, risk of infection, and pain. It’s faster recovery time allows patients to return quickly to their normal, active lifestyle.
What are some spine conditions that can be improved with minimally invasive surgery?
While there are some back problems that cannot be treated with minimally invasive surgery, here are some that can:
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal deformities, such as scoliosis
- Spinal instability
- Fractured vertebra
- Spinal tumor removal
- Infection in the spine
Which type of surgery is right for you?
First, see a top-rated neurosurgeon. Your primary care physician can refer you to a reliable, trustworthy practitioner who can help determine the best course of treatment for your back pain.
If you’ve exhausted other means of nonsurgical intervention for your back pain and surgery becomes the recommended treatment, it’s important to discuss your condition thoroughly with your neurosurgeon and to understand your options. Your choices will depend on your diagnosis and your overall health. Your physician will perform any tests necessary to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for surgery — minimally invasive or traditional — and will recommend the procedure you should have for the best outcome.