If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Chronic back pain is the most common type of chronic pain in the U.S. In most cases, back pain can be managed with non-surgical treatments, but for some people suffering from chronic back pain, surgery is the best option to get relief.
When is back surgery necessary? Spine surgery is only recommended if other back treatments have failed to ease the pain. Dr. Kushwaha, award-winning back surgeon in Houston, recommends a consult with an orthopedic surgeon if you have one of the following conditions:
- A slipped disc that doesn’t heal on its own
- A degenerative spinal condition that’s causing weakness
- Numbness or weakness in your arms and/or legs
- Difficulty walking or using your hands
- Lost bladder or bowel control
- High fever with back pain (spinal infection)
- Broken or dislocated bone in your back
- Spinal cord tumor
Back conditions that may require orthopedic surgery in Houston include:
Herniated, Bulging or Ruptured Disk
A slipped disc in the spine that puts pressure on the nerves in the spine, causing pain and numbness to travel down the back and through the arms or legs. A disc that is bulging or ruptured may also put pressure on a nerve.
If anti-inflammatory treatments do not help relieve pain associated with a herniated disc, spine surgery may be necessary. Dr. Kushwaha commonly treats herniated disc with one of two procedures: lumbar discectomy and lumbar spinal fusion. During lumbar discectomy, the herniated portion of an intervertebral disc, which is causing pain by bulging into the spinal cord or radiating nerves, is removed. Spinal fusion combines two or more vertebrae with the goal of eliminating the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the vertebrae themselves.
Degenerative Disc Disease
If the discs between the vertebrae begin to break down due to degeneration, the damaged disc can cause inflammation and instability in the back, leading to pain, muscle spasms and sciatica (lower back pain that travels to the buttock, leg and foot).
Degenerative disc disease may be treated surgically with the lumbar spinal fusion technique, or extreme lateral interbody fusion, a surgical procedure in which the front part of the lumbar spine is fused from the side. Disc material is removed and a fusion graft is placed into the disc space. The graft is usually bone or a cage combined with bone.
Osteoarthritis is another common cause of lower back pain that leads to orthopedic surgery. Inflammation in the spine due to arthritis can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis. This condition puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves within the spine, causing pain, numbness and muscle weakness. It commonly occurs in the neck and lower back.
When medication and other non-surgical treatments do not work, spine surgery may help. Osteoarthritis can be treated with a procedure called arthrodesis, the artificial induction of joint ossification between to bones.
This condition is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. With scoliosis, there may be a single curve to the left, like a letter C, or a single curve to the right, like a backward letter C. In some cases of scoliosis, the spine has two curves, giving it an S shape. Scoliosis can be very painful. Lumbar spinal fusion may be recommended to help straighten the spine and alleviate back pain associated with scoliosis. This procedure is used primarily to eliminate the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the vertebrae themselves.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Sciatic pain that is not resolved with traditional treatments may actually be attributed to the sacroiliac joint. The SI joint is a large joint in the pelvis that connects the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis. This joint bears weight on both sides of the pelvis and provides shock absorption for the spine. With age, stability in the SI joint can decline and the joint can degenerate, resulting in pain and stiffness in the lower back and lower limbs.
If conservative therapies for SI joint pain do not provide relief and improve symptoms, spinal surgery may be necessary. SI joint fusion can be used to stabilize the joint, minimizing movement and providing significant pain relief, particularly in the lower back and/or leg.
Whether you have suffered injury or trauma to your back or you have a back condition causing spinal pain, you don’t have to continue living in pain. Contact Dr. Kushwaha, award-winning back surgeon in Houston, today.