Spine Surgery FAQ
What is spine surgery?
Spine surgery is a medical procedure that is performed with an aim of treating the chronic back or neck pain that the patient is suffering from. This procedure involves treatment or removal of herniated discs, treating vertebral fractures, spinal stenosis and bone spurs.
Indications of spine surgery?
- No relief in cervical spine pain even after 6-12 months of conservative treatment is a serious indication that you may need to undergo cervical spine surgery.
- Sudden loss of control over the bowel and/or bladder. It could be either the inability to retain or hold waste or progressive weakness in the legs. Either of these symptoms could indicate nerve damage and may get cured only by an orthopaedic spine surgery.
- Radicular pain – If at any time you feel pain either in the neck or the back that is radiating down into your arm or leg, you need to immediately consult a spine specialist about the problem.
- Severe, continuous pain in the abdomen and back need immediate orthopaedic help and treatment.
What are Slipped disc, prolapsed disc, and scoliosis?
- Slipped Disc is a medical condition that develops due to a tear in the fibrous outer ring of the intervertebral disc. As a result of this tear, the centrally located soft portions of the disc to protrude out. This condition is mostly associated with aging; however, it can also be caused by straining, injuries due to lifting heavy objects or trauma. This condition is also referred to as prolapsed disc or disc herniation.
- Scoliosis is a condition which involves the spine bending abnormally towards any of the two sides (lateral curvature) such that the spinal axis has a three-dimensional deviation.
Which doctors perform Spine surgery?
A spine surgery is performed by both orthopaedic surgeons as well as the neurosurgeons, depending on the nature of the problem.
Where is Spine surgery performed?
Spine surgery is performed in a specialty hospital by trained orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons.
Types of spine surgery?
The types of spine surgery include:
- Spinal Fusion: Spinal Fusion is the most common spine surgery. An intervertebral disc is removed and replaced by a titanium cage. The bone grafts are then joined together and fuse together permanently over a period of time. This procedure is done to relieve the pain in the back, treat the instability of spine and to reduce the pressure on nerves.
- Foraminotomy: In this type of surgery, the bone at the sides of the vertebrae is cut away to broaden the space at the points of exit of the nerves from the spinal cord. This procedure may result in instability of the spine in some cases and might require a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine.
- Laminectomy: This procedure involves the removal of parts of bone, bone overgrowths or ligaments to relieve the pressure on the nerves entering and exiting the spinal cord. This procedure too may require a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine.
- Discectomy: This surgical procedure is used to remove the herniated or slipped disc to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves. A discectomy can be performed along with the other procedures including spinal fusion, foraminotomy or laminectomy.
- Disc Replacement: This surgery includes the damaged disc in the spine being replaced by an artificial disk between the vertebrae.
- Cervical Spine Surgery: This procedure is carried out to treat the pain and the damage in the cervical spine. This surgery usually includes a decompression surgery and a fusion surgery being carried out together in order to relieve the pressure on the nerves in the cervical spine and to maintain the stability of the spine.
How can patients prepare for spine surgery?
When preparing for a spine surgery, patients can take the following steps:
- Exercise: If the body is in good shape prior to the surgery, there is a great chance that the recovery period will be shortened.
- Medication: Patients are often prescribed a dose of pain killing medications after the surgery. However, the medicines may not have the desired effect if the patient’s body is already tolerant to narcotic pain medicines. In order to avoid this, you are advised to stay off the pain medications and muscle relaxants before the surgery.
- Quit smoking: Patients are advised to stop smoking prior to their surgery as nicotine can change disc metabolism and increase the cervical spine and spine problems.
Benefits of spine surgery?
The benefits of a spine surgery include:
- Relief from back and neck pain
- Improved movement
- Better physical state
Risks and Complications of spine surgery?
An orthopaedic spine surgery is a relatively safe procedure. However, there may be a few complications in rare cases. These complications include:
- Reactions to anaesthetic and other medicines used in the procedure
- Excessive bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Infections due to skin incisions
- Persistent pain
- Heart attack
Recovery after spine surgery?
After the surgery, the following steps can help you with the recovery:
- Take the prescribed dose of pain killers regularly
- Take proper rest and gradually increase your physical activity as suggested by the spine specialist
- Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol
- Use ergonomic chairs, lumbar supports and braces for complete support of the back
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Maintain a healthy diet
Spine surgery is also known as back surgery and orthopaedic spine surgery.