If you have an aching back that will not go away, it could be that you need spinal surgery. Back pain is the most common chronic pain in the country today. If you live with severe pain and have tried other treatments like physical therapy and medication management without much success, your doctor could recommend spinal surgery. However, the recommendation will come after an in-depth diagnosis of the cause of your pain. If you need to undergo an operation, it is advisable to consider working with the best spine surgeon in Los Angeles. Talk to LAMIS Institute for proper diagnosis and treatment options that best fit your needs. We work with the best spine surgeons in Los Angeles for quality and timely treatment for your back and neck pain.
An Overview of Spinal Surgery
Back pain is why many people requiring spinal surgery seek medical help. Conservative treatments like physical therapy and medication management are sometimes recommended to provide temporary or permanent relief. However, more serious back issues like trauma, spinal infections, and spine tumors require more significant intervention. You will not achieve complete relief from pain from conservative treatments if you have a more serious issue. That is where spinal surgery comes in.
If you experience back pain, your doctor will first recommend other alternative treatments to surgery, like heat, ice, spinal injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Sometimes even regular exercises could relieve back pain and keep it from returning. But if you have been experiencing excruciating back pain that you cannot easily manage by alternative treatments, it could indicate a more serious issue that could require spinal surgery.
Surgeons recommend spinal surgery as a last resort after all other treatment options have failed. If your back pain persists after several visits to and treatments by your doctor, your doctor will recommend an imaging test to identify the exact problem and make a proper diagnosis. They will then recommend a treatment option to rectify the underlying problem to keep the pain from returning.
If you need spinal surgery, you will have two main options to choose from:
- Traditional spinal surgery
- Minimally invasive spinal surgery
It helps to know the difference so you can make an informed decision.
Traditional spinal surgery is an open surgery that involves exposing a patient's anatomy. The minimally invasive spinal surgery also involves exposure to the patient's anatomy but not as much as traditional open surgery.
For that reason, minimally invasive surgery offers earlier recovery for patients. You could be okay after the first few weeks of the operation.
Additionally, minimally invasive spinal surgery uses more surgical aids than traditional open surgery. For instance, it uses intraoperative spine navigation that gives the surgeon better visibility into areas of the patient's back that are less exposed.
Whether you choose traditional open spinal surgery or minimally invasive surgery, their long-term goals are the same. You will enjoy overall improvement in the symptoms you are experiencing or even stop a degeneration. Our top spine surgeons in Los Angeles will provide the necessary information you need to make a decision or choose the treatment method they feel best suits your situation.
Reasons You Could Need Spinal Surgery
Excruciating back pain is not enough reason to need spinal surgery. Before recommending surgery, your doctor can try other treatment methods like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicines. Here are instances when your doctor can refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for diagnosis and treatment:
When You Have a Slipped Disc
A slipped disc occurs when the soft cushion of the tissues between bones in your spine pushes out. It can be excruciating, especially if the cushion presses on the nerves. First, your doctor can recommend rest, gentle exercises, and painkillers to treat a slipped disc. But if it does not get better, you could need spinal surgery.
When You Have Osteophytes or Bone Spurs in the Spine
Osteophytes are small, smooth bone growths that could develop near a spine's facet joint where cartilage has worn. It can develop at any spinal column level, including the lower back, mid-back, and neck. Osteophytes are mainly caused by arthritis. They put a lot of pressure on the spine, resulting in back pain.
When You Have a Degenerative Condition
Degenerative spine conditions occur after a gradual loss of the normal structure and function of the spine over time. They are caused by various factors, including aging, infections, arthritis, and tumors. A degeneration condition can result in herniated or slipped discs, which exert pressure on the spine and nerve roots, resulting in pain.
Degenerative spine conditions like stenosis cause weakness and numbness in various body parts, especially the arms and legs. You could have trouble using your hands or walking.
When You Have a Spinal Tumor
A tumor is an abnormal tissue mass surrounding or within the spine or spinal column. The abnormal mass develops into rapidly growing cells than could multiply uncontrollably. Some are malignant or cancerous, while the others are benign (non-cancerous).
Spinal tumors are extremely painful and could result in neurological problems or even paralysis. They are life-threatening and could result in permanent disability. Quick medical intervention is required as soon as a diagnosis.
When You Have a Spinal Infection
A spinal infection can occur if you have a fungal or bacterial infection in another part of the body, then the infection is carried through the bloodstream to the spine. Common bacterial infections that affect the spine include staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. If spinal infections are diagnosed in their early stages, they can be treated using antibiotics, spinal braces, and bed rest. But severe cases of infections with severe symptoms can cause damage to the spine, requiring surgical treatment.
When You Have a Broken or Dislocated Spinal Cord
A dislocation occurs when your vertebrae do not line up well or are out of place. That could damage your spinal cord.
Spinal fractures or dislocations are not unusual. Their severity varies greatly, depending on the exact location of the injury. A dislocated or fractured spinal cord symptoms include neck and back pain, tingling, numbness, muscle spasm, weakness, and paralysis.
Common Spinal Surgery Procedures
Back pains vary from one patient to the other, depending on the cause and severity. Fortunately, there is a surgical procedure to address every need. Your surgeon will recommend a procedure to treat the specific problem you are experiencing. Here are some common spinal surgery procedures you should be aware of:
Spinal fusion is a spinal surgical operation to stop back and neck pain. This operation is done to stop the motion of vertebrae or segments that could be causing you pain.
The operation aims to minimize or stop pain resulting from a faceted joint, herniated disc, and/or a compressed nerve.
Surgeons approach spinal fusion differently, even though the results are always the same. The most common approach involves bone or synthetic grafting that is added to the affected disc space up to where treatment is required. Sometimes bone grafting is done to increase bone growth in the affected area. The grafted part grows between the vertebrae, joining them to create a single vertebral segment. The fusion reduces motion in the vertebrae, preventing the generation of pain.
Your surgeon will recommend spinal fusion if they believe that the cause of your back pain is instability or movement at the vertebrae level. The pain will result in an inability to perform certain functions like bending, lifting, and twisting.
Microdiscectomy involves the removal of a small part of the bone to relieve a neural impingement. It gives the nerve root enough room, relieving you of pain and nerve pinching that you were once experiencing. It also allows the affected nerves to heal.
Microdiscectomy is recommended in case of a herniated disc. The surgery is necessary to relieve pain in patients experiencing central low back pain. Two options are involved:
- Endoscopic/percutaneous discectomy
Microdiscectomy is generally an outpatient surgical procedure with a minimal incision in the middle of the lower back. During this procedure, your surgeon will target neural decompression to treat a pinched nerve caused by grown bone spurs, disc degeneration, or narrowed foraminal hole that holds your nerves in the spine.
If you engage the best surgeon in Los Angeles, they will remove the herniated part of the lumbar disc and other fragments in the disc that could interfere with your nerves. That should free the nerve and stop the pain.
Artificial Disc Replacement
The procedure aims to help patients preserve more of their natural movement while eliminating pain generators. It involves replacing the original discs with artificial ones, designed to look and function the same as the original ones.
Artificial discs are usually made from metallic materials like chrome and titanium or a combination of metal and other materials like plastic.
During this procedure, your surgeon will remove all damaged discs and replace them with artificial ones.
Disc replacement is a relatively new type of spinal surgery compared to the two discussed above. But, it is slowly becoming popular. Its results are seemingly superior to what you experience after fusion. The procedure is most suitable for patients with varying degrees of disc herniation or degeneration. It has persistent and chronic neck and back pain associated with arm and leg pain.
Proper Timing for Spinal Surgery
Remember that spinal surgery is recommended as a last resort after all treatment methods have failed. Thus, it is not done in a rush. Your surgeon will probably ask you to give it a few more weeks before the surgery. It gives your doctor a chance to see if your body will heal naturally. It also allows your doctor more time to evaluate the effectiveness of conservative treatments on your condition.
However, there could be instances when a patient must undergo an operation soon enough or immediately. That would be the case if you are experiencing unrelenting pain or are showcasing neurological symptoms like a foot drop or your surgeon has diagnosed you with a serious issue like an injury to the spine. In that case, your surgeon will have to act fast.
Your surgeon will explain the available treatment options to you to help you make an informed decision. Remember that spinal surgery should be a joint decision between you and the surgeon.
Note that if your surgeon recommends surgery and you decline, it could result in more severe problems to the spine. That is true if you have been diagnosed with a more serious problem that can only be surgically treated like a degenerative condition. The human spinal cord comprises nerves, which require nutrients and oxygen to function. Little blood flow to your spine for prolonged periods could damage these nerves, resulting in pain and weakness.
A healthy lifestyle after spinal surgery is recommended to keep the back pain away. A healthy lifestyle comprises a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding habits like smoking. That will keep your spine and the surrounding tissues healthy. Visiting a Los Angeles back surgery expert once you start experiencing back pain will ensure proper diagnosis and timely treatment before the problems escalate.
It is advisable to work closely with Los Angeles back surgery experts if you are experiencing back pain. Your surgeon will walk you through the treatment process to ensure that you understand what to expect during and after the operation. That will prepare your mind and help you make an informed decision.
Find a Los Angeles Spinal Surgery Expert Near Me
Are you experiencing back and neck pain that will not go away even after conservative treatments like pain medications and physical therapy?
It could be time to consider spinal surgery. Top spine surgeons in Southern California will only recommend surgery after other alternative treatments have failed. Some conditions like an injured spine or degenerative conditions require immediate surgical treatment to restore your health and stop the pain and further damage to the spine. We offer professionalism, reliability, and affordability at LAMIS Institute. Contact us at 310-734-6088 and allow our spine surgeon in Los Angeles to walk you through the treatment process.