A lot of people at some point in their lives will have experienced an episode of acute low back pain for undetermined reasons. Some of them have had mild pain and others may have had extremely painful episodes enough to cause significant disruption in their daily activities. There are those whose pain got better over time with non-surgical treatment and care.
There are a lot of people with pain in their lower back and they are not certain if there is a need for surgical remedy to relieve the pain. This will be determined by a spine surgery doctor or a neurosurgeon specializing in spine surgery and it will depend on the symptoms manifested and the state of health of the patient. While most back pain are treated with non-invasive treatment methods, a primary care physician or a chiropractor will most likely refer a patient who may be a candidate for back surgery to a spine surgery specialist.
When to See a Spine Surgeon
A lot of ordinary back problems usually resolve over a certain period of time. Even back problems accompanied by severe pain disappear after some time without having to see a doctor, much less a spine surgeon. As a rule, any individual having back problems and back pains, but do not have manifesting symptoms in his legs should wait a minimum of 6 to 12 weeks to observe if there will be improvements on the pain intensity. If the pain continues and become severe after 12 weeks, it is time to see a spine surgeon. Depending on the spine surgeon’s diagnosis, spinal or back surgery may be the appropriate treatment option.
Surgery for low back pain can correct anatomical conditions resulting from unstable spine or pinched nerves. Any of these problems should be evident in the MRI scan for a patient to require back surgery. On the other hand, if there is no anatomic cause registering on the MRI scan, then the patient does not need back surgery. Just because non-surgical methods fail to relieve the lower back pain of the patient, spine surgery does not come as an automatic option or solution.
Patients diagnosed with herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, vertebral fractures and degenerative disc disease may need spine or back surgery to treat their problem. If patient’s pain is not relieved by non-surgical procedures and is continuing to be felt for a few weeks or months, and if the pain is not dissipated by narcotic medications for pain, the likelihood of needing spine surgery is quite high. Similarly, if the pain felt in the lower back is so severe that the patient is disrupted from doing his/her daily tasks and functions like going to work, driving to the store and other light tasks, it is recommended that a spine surgeon is consulted.
What to Expect From Back Surgery
Treating lower back pain with a surgery which surgeons recommend can be a more extensive type of spine surgery with a longer healing time and a rather lower success rate. Back surgery for a pinched nerve or leg pain does not require long healing period and they have a higher success rate. Under conservative treatment, if the patient’s pain is not relieved after 6 months to a year, a fusion surgery may be a lot more reasonable option.
Back surgery entails a long healing process and it involves other treatment forms like therapy and pain medication, even after the surgery. The back surgery surgeon will monitor the patient’s response to therapy and recovery. Complications are not likely to occur with an experienced spinal surgeon performing the surgery.
Recovery after Back Surgery
With the right therapy program, light exercises to do after the surgery, the patient will be able to resume to his or her normal activities. It takes about 3 – 12 months for a patient that had back surgery to get back to his/her normal activities and functions, with a success rate of 70& to 90%, depending on the condition or severity of the spine damage or disease.
New Technologies in Back Surgery Procedures
Conventional back surgery will make use of the conventional surgical facilities and equipment set-up in the hospital. More spine surgeons are keeping themselves upgraded by using high technology gadgets like smart phones or mobile devices in their practice. A report has already made the headline news about the use of iPad in tracking down the progress of spine surgery. A spine surgeon is able to monitor the patient’s condition after having a spine surgery through a mobile tracker application developed even after being released from the hospital.
Other medical applications allow surgeons to use the iPad during actual back surgery procedures. As necessitated by the surgical procedure, a spine surgeon may refer to images of the spine captured before the surgery for a more detailed and enlarged view of the person’s spine. Similarly, surgeons can use the iPad to record or videotape the procedure and serve as a monitoring screen which is located more conveniently closer to the surgeon. With the continuous development of medical apps for delicate procedures, iPad is potentially seeing a big demand from the medical industry in the coming years.