ClickCease
+1-915-850-0900 spinedoctors@gmail.com
Select Page
Spinal Surgery Options

Spinal Surgery Options

Surgery options when back pain is becoming chronic or so severe that an individual cannot function normally and negatively affects their life. Pretty much everyone experiences back pain at some point. This is often from:

  • Lifting heavy/non-heavy objects incorrectly
  • Improper posture
  • Twisting in an awkward way
  • Overreaching
  • Muscle spasms
  • Physical activity the body is not used to doing

Most cases of backaches and pain go away by themselves or with conservative treatment.  But sometimes, surgery is necessary.

Spinal Surgery Options

When Surgery Is Necessary

Acute back pain can last for days or weeks and can often resolve with physical therapy, chiropractic, and self-care. Back pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer is considered chronic. Around twenty percent of individuals who experience acute low back pain after a year begin developing chronic back pain. Doctors try to treat most back pain cases with non-surgical approaches.

  • They usually begin with physical therapy/chiropractic.
  • If that doesn’t work, then medication is incorporated.
  • However, many individuals do not want to take long-term medication, which is when surgery may be recommended.
  • In most cases, surgery is a last resort.

When the pain radiates to the legs or if it is causing problems with bladder and/or bowel function, these are definite signs/symptoms that surgery is needed. If the pain/dysfunction continues after thorough and effective non-surgical treatment, surgery could be recommended to preserve the spine to improve spinal strength and function before the problem worsens, causing further injury and damage. Some of the most common and effective spine surgery options include.

Surgery Options

Microdiscectomy

Microdiscectomy is the most common back surgery in the United States. It is minimally invasive spine surgery. Microdiscectomy patients have low back pain combined with leg pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. In between the vertebrae are the body’s shock-absorbing discs. The discs can begin to bulge out, a bulging or herniated disc, and press on the surrounding nerve roots, causing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness. A microdiscectomy removes the portions of the disc pressing on the nerve.

It is called micro because the surgeon wears specialized glasses known as loupes that act as microscopes. This is so the surgeon can see the details when they’re operating. The surgery is performed through a small incision in the middle of the back or on the affected side. Patients can go home a few hours after the surgery and return to normal activities within two weeks. The success rate is 85 – 95%, especially if the surgery is done early before the damage begins to spread out.

Laminectomy

The spinal canal contains a special lining. This is where the nerves and ligaments run through. Age, along with normal wear and tear on the body, causes the ligaments to thicken. This is when bone spurs can develop from osteoarthritis, and the discs can begin to bulge or rupture/herniate. This clogs and impinges the space where the nerves should easily flow through. This narrowing is called spinal stenosis. A laminectomy opens up the space relieving the compression/pressure. The procedure requires removing part of the back of a vertebra called the lamina. This enlarges the spinal canal and relieves the pressure on the nerves. The procedure is done through a small incision in the middle of the back but can also be done through a minimal incision. Leg pain improves after surgery. A traditional incision full recovery takes 6 to 12 weeks. The success rate is around 85 percent.

Spinal Fusion

A spinal fusion joins/fuses two or more bones in the spine. This is done when an individual has severe compression of the nerves, severe instability, or spinal revision surgery. A fusion can help stabilize spinal fractures. Other reasons for a spinal fusion are spine deformity, cancer of the spine, and sometimes used for intractable pain. A fusion stabilizes the spine with screws and rods. The disc causing the compression is replaced with a fusion device and bone graft. The surgery is often performed in combination with a laminectomy. Recovery and returning to activities can take around 3-4 months after the procedure. The success rate is 85-90% with pain improvement.

Kyphoplasty

Spinal compression fractures are common in individuals with osteoporosis. When they happen, the pain can be so intense that braces and medication don’t help. Kyphoplasty can bring pain relief. It can be performed by a pain management doctor, interventional radiologist, or surgeon in an outpatient X-ray facility and operating room. The procedure involves conscious sedation, sometimes accompanied by general anesthesia. A small instrument is inserted into the vertebra, and a balloon is inflated to make room for bone cement. After the bone cement is injected, patients can go home within a few hours. The success rate is around 85%, and recovery time could be several days.

Disc Replacement

This is a procedure that can replace spinal fusion for certain cases. A disc replacement can be done in the lumbar/low back or the cervical/neck spine. This procedure is performed to treat a pinched nerve and/or spinal cord compression. The injured/damaged disc is removed and is replaced with an artificial disc. The device allows for motion, whereas fusion procedures fuse the bones to stabilize and immobilize the area. Disc replacement is recommended for younger patients that don’t have serious arthritis. This is because they still have mobility. If significant arthritis is present, the patient could experience more pain and require spinal fusion. Recovery takes around six weeks. Intense physical activity is off-limits for two or three weeks after the initial recovery period. The success rate is more than 90%.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion – ACDF

This is a common neck/cervical spine procedure. This surgery is for pain relief, weakness, tingling, and numbness of the arms caused by a pinched nerve or stenosis. The damaged disc is removed through a small incision in the side of the front of the neck. The disc is replaced with a bone graft or specialized spacer and a small plate with screws. This is to stabilize the spine. It is highly effective in relieving pain and in preventing neurological decline from spinal cord compression. Recovery time is around 12 weeks before a full return to normal activities. However, individuals report feeling better after two weeks.

Back Surgery Options

The majority of cases involving back pain get better on their own or with conservative treatment. But if an individual cannot find relief, there are safe and effective surgery options that can help.


Body Composition


When The Immune System Activates

When the body gets sick from a bacterial infection, virus, etc., the body’s defense system activates, causing inflammation. This immune response serves as the first wave of defense against foreign invaders. The infected area becomes red and swollen from increased blood flow. For example, when the nose gets red from a cold, this is inflammation. The reaction is caused by white blood cells known as macrophages, and the proteins they emit called cytokines encourage inflammation. Inflammation that’s triggered by the immune system is normally a good thing. It means the body is releasing a proper amount of hormones and proteins. These activate the white blood cells to start the healing process and work to fight the infection.

References

Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet

A review of complication rates for Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion (ACDF). Surg Neurol Int. 2019. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31528438/

Rheumatology Advisor. (2017.) “Back Pain.” https://www.rheumatologyadvisor.com/home/decision-support-in-medicine/rheumatology/back-pain/

Whiplash Surgery: When it’s Necessary

Whiplash Surgery: When it’s Necessary

Whiplash injuries very rarely call for surgery. But with those rare occurrences, that are severe cases, surgery is considered appropriate when neck or shoulder pain worsens. Doctors recommend patients go through 4 to 6 weeks of non-surgical treatment. If there is no improvement or the condition is worsening then a doctor could recommend whiplash surgery as the best option. A spine surgeon will recommend the best procedure for the specific injury. Ask all the questions you have to fully understand the exact process, the outcome, and the recovery time. Surgery is an individual’s decision. The surgeon can recommend it, but the patient has the final say. The procedure depends on what area/s the cervical spine is injured/damaged.  
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Whiplash Surgery: When it's Necessary
 

Disc Herniation

Depending on the type of trauma individuals can rupture or herniate the intervertebral disc/s, located between the vertebrae. This can generate constant pain, numbness, and weakness. With cases like this sometimes removal of the disc is necessary.  
 
A surgeon will remove all or portion of the damaged disc through a process called a discectomy. After the discectomy, a doctor may have to permanently stabilize the area. This is because the spine becomes unstable and can move in abnormal ways. This increases the risk of a serious neurological injury. Therefore a discectomy is usually followed with a re-stabilization of the spine. Spinal stabilization techniques used:

Artificial Disc Replacement

Cervical artificial disc replacement also known as ADR could be performed instead of standard discectomy combined with spinal fusion. An artificial disc is implanted into the empty space following the procedure. Artificial disc replacement preserves or restores movement of the neck.

Fusion and Spinal Instrumentation

This form of spine stabilization can be done on its own or in combination with decompression surgery. The bones in the spine fuse together over time usually several months or longer depending on how the surgeon set up the fusion process. The surgeon will use a bone graft or a biological chemical that stimulates bone growth. A surgeon could use spinal instrumentation. These are:
  • Interbody device/s
  • Screws
  • Rods
  • Plates
These all are used to increase stability and help fuse the bones properly. The fusion prohibits movement between the vertebrae for long-term stability.

Stenosis

Whiplash surgery could also be necessary if the injury caused the spinal canal in the neck to narrow. Here a cervical corpectomy could be performed to remove part of the vertebra and intervertebral disc/s. This reduces the added pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. A surgeon could also do a laminectomy or a laminoplasty. Both focus on the lamina, which is the bony plate at the back of each vertebra. The lamina protects the spinal cord and canal. The lamina could also present added pressure on the spinal cord. This is where the surgeon will create extra space for the cord by removing all or part of the lamina. This is a laminectomy.  
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Whiplash Surgery: When it's Necessary
 
A laminoplasty re-shapes the lamina to create more room for the spinal cord. If there is a narrowing of the space where the nerve exits the canal, a cervical foraminotomy could be utilized. The foramen is the area where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal. This is removed to allow for more space for the nerves to move through. A larger pathway is less likely to pinch/compress the nerve.

Complications

A doctor will discuss all the potential risks before being asked to sign a surgical consent form. Complications can include:
  • Injury to the spinal cord, nerves, esophagus, carotid artery, vocal cords
  • The bone fusion does not heal known as pseudoarthrosis
  • Improvement does not occur
  • Instrumentation breaks or gets damaged
  • Infection
  • Bone graft site pain
  • Pain and swelling in the leg veins known as phlebitis
  • Blood clots in the lung
  • Urination problems
Complications could lead to more surgery, so make sure there is a complete understanding of the surgery and the risks before proceeding. The final decision is up to the individual.

Whiplash Surgery Recovery

After surgery, things might not be great right away. More than likely individuals are out of bed within 24 hours, and on pain meds for 2 to 4 weeks. Individuals will receive instructions on how to sitting down, and standing up. The body needs time to heal, so the doctor will recommend restricting certain activities that involve moving the neck too much. Avoid sports, twisting, or heavy lifting during recovery. And report any problems like fever increased pain, or infection right away.
 

Whiplash Massage Therapy


 

Dr. Alex Jimenez�s Blog Post Disclaimer

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Times When Surgery for Sciatica Could Be Necessary

Times When Surgery for Sciatica Could Be Necessary

Surgery for sciatica is sometimes necessary if medications, chiropractic, and physical therapy are not working to relieve sciatica symptoms, but don�t worry. Individuals sometimes have sciatica that just does not respond to conservative treatment can find relief through surgical procedures.

 

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Times When Surgery for Sciatica Could Be Necessary

Questions begin to pop up, as to which procedure makes the most sense, what will the experience be like, and how long will it be until you can get back to a normal, pain-free life?

Sciatica

Sciatica is pain that runs down the longest nerve in the body, known as the sciatic nerve. Pain starts in the lower back and spreads down one leg, into the calf and possibly the foot. It is rare but sciatica can occur in both legs. The pain is mild to severe and feels worse when sneezing, coughing, bending, and standing/sitting in certain positions. The pain is often accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in affected legs.

Sciatica a set of symptoms caused by other medical problems like an injury, tumor, or the most common cause around 90% of the time is a herniated disc in the lower back. The soft-gel center of the disc pushes through the tough exterior, where it can pinch or press on the sciatic nerve causing pain.

Research shows that sciatica affects 1% to 5% of the population, and around 40% will experience sciatica at some point in their life. Men between the ages of 30 and 50 have a higher risk along with smokers, individuals that sit for a long time, and those that perform physically strenuous work. Doctors and chiropractors can diagnose cases of sciatica with a medical history and physical exam. Diagnostic imaging can also be used in some cases.

When it’s Time to Consider Surgery for Sciatica

 

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Times When Surgery for Sciatica Could Be Necessary

Most individuals with sciatica respond positively with non-surgical treatments like chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, medication, spinal injection/s, etc. This makes spine surgery a rarely needed treatment for low back and leg pain caused by sciatic nerve compression. But there are situations when surgery for sciatica could be beneficial.

  • With bowel or bladder dysfunction, this is also rare, but it can happen with spinal cord compression and cauda equina syndrome.
  • Spinal stenosis, where the doctor believes that surgery is the best approach.
  • There are neurologic dysfunctions like severe leg weakness
  • Symptoms become severe and non-surgical treatment is no longer effective

There are different types of surgical procedures for spine surgery. A spine surgeon will recommend the best approach for each patient’s sciatica. Which procedure they recommend will be based on the disorder causing sciatica with the entire procedure clearly explained so that you understand completely. Ask any questions to better understand the surgeon’s recommendation. Remember, the final decision is always up to you. A second opinion is recommended before deciding.

Sciatica usually goes away on its own with the majority of cases managed with conservative treatment. Depending on the cause, this could be heat or ice packs, chiropractic, therapeutic massage, pain medication, stretching exercises, physical therapy, or injections. �

Sciatica for Surgery Options

Surgery for sciatica is performed to relieve the added compression/pressure on the nerves and relieve the pain. Options include a microdiscectomy and laminectomy. Each has its similarities and differences when it comes to the preparation, process, and recovery for the operation. �

Microdiscectomy

During a microdiscectomy, part or all of the herniated disc is removed. Research has shown the effectiveness of relieving pain to be around 80 to 95 percent of patients. The operation is done in a hospital or surgery center and requires about one hour to complete. General anesthesia is administered during this procedure.

  • A surgeon will make an incision over the affected disc.
  • Skin and tissue covering the disc will be opened and moved for better access. Some of the bone could be taken out as part of the procedure called a laminotomy.
  • The surgeon will use various tools to remove all or part of the herniated disc.
  • Once the removal is done, the surgeon will close the incision and send you to a recovery room.
  • To quicken the healing process patients are encouraged to start walking within hours of the procedure.
  • Most go home the same day. Some patients will have to stay at the hospital for observation. This could be from other conditions present.
  • You will not be allowed to operate a vehicle the same day. Therefore a designated driver will be necessary.

Laminectomy

third and fourth lumbar vertebrae lumbar vertebra lumbar spine vertebral bone

Preparation for a laminectomy is similar to a microdiscectomy. The lamina is the back part of the vertebrae, which protects the spinal canal. This procedure relieves pain by creating space for the nerves to move around.

  • The procedure takes about one to three hours from start to finish.
  • Both sides of the laminae are removed, along with the spinous process in the middle.
  • The patient lies face-down as the surgeon makes an incision near the affected vertebrae.
  • Skin and muscles are moved around and various tools/instruments are used to remove all or part of the lamina. Overgrowth of bone or spinal disc could also be removed.
  • The incision is stitched or stapled, bandaged, and sent to a recovery room.
  • Just like a microdiscectomy the individual will be encouraged to begin walking the same day.
  • Most individuals leave the hospital after surgery, however, a one to possible three-night could be required for others.
  • A driver does need to be designated for the ride home.

A microdiscectomy is recommended for stenosis caused by a herniated disc. However, if the stenosis is caused by another health issue/condition like bone spurs developed from arthritis, then a laminectomy could be the best approach. Laminectomies are usually performed on individuals in their 50s or 60s. While micro discectomies vary when it comes to age but are usually performed on younger individuals.

Recovery

 

At home, post-op rules need to be followed no matter what surgery for sciatica was performed. The incision area needs to stay clean and no lifting of heavy objects, bending and sitting for extended times. Surgery for sciatica is considered safe with complications being uncommon. All operations come with risks. These include nerve damage, blood clots, and infection.

The provider needs to know about unusual symptoms after the procedure. This could be fever, excess drainage, or pain around the incision area. Pain meds could be prescribed to ease the post-surgery pain, and chiropractic along with physical therapy could be implemented to speed recovery. Individuals are typically cleared to return to work two to four weeks after the procedure. It could be six to eight weeks if their job/occupation is physically demanding and strenuous.

Depending on how complex the spine surgery is an individual could be sitting upright the same day and walking within 24 hours. A course of pain meds could be prescribed to help manage postoperative pain. Instructions will be given on how to sit, rise, get out of bed, and stand in a careful manner. The body needs time to heal, so a doctor could recommend activity restriction. This could be anything that moves the spine too much. For sure contact sports, twisting, or heavy lifting during recovery are to be avoided. Report any problem/s like fever, increased pain, infection right away.

Spine Surgery Relief

Many individuals benefit from sciatica surgery, but it doesn�t work for everyone. A small percentage of individuals continue to feel discomfort in the weeks/months after. And sciatica can return in the future and in a different location. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if surgery for sciatica is the right choice for you.


Treating Severe & Complex Sciatica Syndromes

 


Dr. Alex Jimenez�s Blog Post Disclaimer

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*