Back surgery is usually only appropriate after other more conservative treatments have failed to provide back pain relief, including rest, ice therapy, anti-inflammatories, manipulations, and physical therapy. Doctor will usually only consider back surgery when conservative treatments don't help, and when the patient is in so much pain that their quality of life is severely impaired. Usually, the patient will have experienced back pain for at least several months or more before they become a candidate for back surgery, to see if the problem resolves on its own, or only after months of physical therapy have failed to produce results. Patients will be tempted by the possibility of an operation that resolves their pain once and for all. Though there are potential benefits to having a surgical procedure such as discectomy or laminectomy done, there are risks and recovery times to consider. There are many different types of back surgery, and the type chosen will depend on the cause of the patient's back pain.
Wear and tear, bad ergonomic setups, poor body mechanics, aging, and trauma can cause changes to your spine that can make you stiff and cause you back pain. Any damage to your back, particularly damage that causes tissues to press into the spinal canal or onto spinal nerves, can cause back pain and related symptoms. Despite the cumulative effects of injuries and time, most acute cases of back pain will still resolve on their own or with conservative therapies such as anti-inflammatories, heat, ice, PT, and massage. When some or all of these therapies fail to provide any back pain relief, back surgery may be considered. But back surgery will not be appropriate in all cases, because they don't help with every type of back pain. In fact, back surgery will only be an appropriate treatment option in a lower percentage of cases.
Don't be alarmed if you are experiencing back pain for the first time, as long as you have had related symptoms for three months or less. Only a small percentage of back pain sufferers (5%) experience pain or loss of function for three months or more. Other patient's may require a little more time and conservative treatment before back symptoms diminish. Usually, the patient would have had back pain for more than three months before surgery is considered. Spine surgery options include spine disc replacement, spine fusion, laminectomy, foraminotomy, and discectomy. In other cases, back surgery may be appropriate to remove tumors in or near the spinal column.
A discectomy is a procedure to remove a partial section of a damaged disc or the entire disc to take some of the pressure off the nerves that the disc was pressing on. A foramenotomy removes a portion of the vertebral bone that is pinching on a spinal nerve. A laminectomy involves the removal of part of or the whole lamina on the vertebral arch on the vertebral bone. Spinal fusion involves the fusion of two adjacent vertebral bones, usually following a discectomy. Spinal disc replacement is a new an uncommonly used procedure that involves the removal of a damaged disc and its replacement with an artificial one.