The primary purpose of back or neck surgery is to correct an anatomical lesion in individuals who fail to show improvement with conservative (nonsurgical) treatment. Back and neck surgery is indicated in a number of scenarios, and there are multiple options available depending on how the symptoms present.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery is offered to treat many sources of neck and back pain. Because of the many advantages it offers, this procedure is often preferred by patients and surgeons when possible. The surgery is performed using an endoscope, which is inserted through half-inch incisions. The endoscope connects to a camera that projects what is going on inside the body onto a large screen.
When patients have minimally invasive surgery as opposed to open surgery, they experience less pain and recover more quickly. With such small incisions, the muscle surrounding the cut is less impacted and heals faster, leaving a much smaller scar. Minimally invasive procedures are available for patients suffering from low back pain, spinal stenosis and herniated discs, among others.
Determining Eligibility for Surgery
Eligibility for surgery depends on a number of factors. The most important of these is that the surgeon can identify a specific cause of the pain the patient is experiencing. It is important to speak with a spine specialist at length to determine if the surgical process and its benefits are worthwhile. Pain level and degree of debilitation are also taken into account by the surgeon.
If the patient’s daily life is greatly impacted by the pain level and he or she cannot complete simple tasks, surgery might be the best option if no conservative methods have helped the patient thus far. Along with minimally invasive options, surgeons also perform open surgeries that are more invasive and have longer recovery times for more advanced conditions. Surgical options are dependent on the presenting symptoms and degree of debility.
What to Expect After Surgery
Minimally invasive surgeries have the quickest recovery times. With such small incisions there is less physical area that needs to recover. In some instances, a patient who has surgery in the morning can be back at his or her home that night. For cases that do not qualify for minimally invasive surgery, the recovery times can be longer.
Depending on the specific surgery, condition, and patient’s individual fitness level, recovery periods can range from a few months to a year. For the most part, the more complex the surgery is, the longer the patient’s recovery period. However, every patient has a unique set of symptoms and recovery rate, so it is difficult to determine the specific amount of time.
After suffering for months or years from neck or back pain, surgery will alter how the patient interacts with the world. Researching the pros and cons before meeting with a surgeon will allow the patient to have an informed interaction. For more information about neck and back surgery or to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified surgeons, please visit our contact page.