It is estimated that four million Australians back issues. That is approximately 16 %of the population which is a significant number. Many people choose to put up with the pain, perhaps with the help of painkillers.
However, in some situations, the pain or inconvenience is too much and specialist help is required. This often leads to a need for surgery to strengthen the back and repair damage.
There are many different types of spinal surgery but it is important to consider carefully before going under the knife. In many cases, the surgery will not alleviate the pain. But, in the case of serious musculoskeletal issues or nerve compression, it remains the best option.
When To Have Back Surgery
If you think back surgery needs to be considered then it is essential you visit a reputable neurosurgeon to discuss all the options and the risks.
Surgery is generally considered a necessity in the following circumstances:
- When you have herniated or ruptured disks and one of those discs is actually damaged. This can cause damage to the spinal column and the nerves that run through it.
- Narrowing of the spinal column, known as spinal stenosis where the narrowing places additional pressure on the nerves inside the spinal column and causes pain and mobility issues.
- Spondylolisthesis – a condition when bones move out of place
- Disc disease – this is usually degenerative, becoming worse as the person ages.
- Fractures – fractures are most commonly caused by injuries or by age-related osteoporosis.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
In traditional spine and back surgery, a long incision is made down the line of your back. The muscles and tissues around the spine are then moved aside, allowing access to the spinal column. In some cases, the tissue actually needs to be removed to gain the required access.
Of course, the longer the incision the more likely it is that an issue will occur or an infection.
Minimally invasive spine surgery uses much smaller incisions. A tunnel retractor is then inserted into the incision and gently pushed to the problem area in your spine. While this does move muscle and tissue to get to the sine, it disturbs less of it and is much gentler.
The tunnel is big enough to allow specialist micro tools through it and a special microscope takes x-ray pictures throughout the operation, allowing the surgeon to see what they are doing.
This type of surgery can be used for the majority of the procedures that are usually performed by full-back surgery.
However, because it is less intrusive the risk of infection and damage is greatly reduced. Recovery time is also reduced, which allows you to get on with everyday life and minimize muscle wastage while you recover.
The reduced risk of complications makes this the preferred option in most cases where surgery is necessary. If you are considering surgery then you need to make sure that minimally invasive is an option.