What Does Spinal Surgery Correct?
There are numerous types of spinal surgeries that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Here, our orthopedic surgery experts will discuss some of the most common conditions requiring spinal surgery and briefly explain how these disorders can be corrected by surgery.
Bulging and Herniated Discs
Bulging discs are discs bulging outside of the space they normally occupy in the vertebrae, whereas a herniated or ruptured disc refers to a condition in which a small crack occurs in the disc, causing the inner materials to rupture out of the disc. Both bulging and herniated discs generally occur as a result of the wear and tear that comes with aging or repetitive activities, such as heavy lifting, and both may be asymptomatic in early or mild cases.
In cases where non-surgical treatments such as physiotherapy and pain medications are not sufficient, the symptoms are affecting areas other than your back and your symptoms interfere with your everyday activities, surgery may be necessary.
Surgery for bulging or herniated discs is aimed at stabilizing or removing the affected disc to relieve the resulting narrowing of the spinal cord. Some common surgical options include discectomy or microdiscectomy, laminotomy, laminectomy and spinal fusion. The decision regarding which of these techniques is right for you will be made by your orthopedic surgeon based on the preoperative imaging and physical examination findings.
Stress fractures can develop over time as a result of repetitive motions or acute trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury. In most cases, conservative treatments, including discontinuing any activities that may have caused the stress fracture, using a back brace, pain medications and physiotherapy, are enough to allow the spondylosis to heal. However, if the symptoms do not go away or worsen with time, orthopedic surgery may be needed.
Spondylolysis can lead to spondylolisthesis in which the vertebrae is displaced. In these serious cases, spinal fusion is generally performed to connect two or more vertebrae using a bone graft or screws, fixing the vertebrae and providing pain relief.
Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal cord. This condition can affect either the lumbar or the cervical spine. In general, spinal stenosis affects individuals in their 50s or older and develops over time as a result of the natural aging process or due to genetic factors.
The most common surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis is lumbar laminectomy, which may be performed with or without spinal fusion. This surgery aims to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerve roots by removing part of the bone or the thickened tissue responsible for causing the narrowing.
It is important to note that surgery is not a “quick fix”, and even after the surgery, the road to recovery is often long and demanding. The return to sports, physical work or other activities should be gradual, and physiotherapy is often required.
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