While most adults experience low back pain at some point, only very few will require surgery. Most types of low back pain can be effectively managed through a combination of exercise and other non-surgical treatments. For a small percentage of people, however, surgery may be necessary to allow them to reduce pain to an acceptable level and return to a normal level of daily activity.
Back surgery is typically considered if a patient has pain and difficulty functioning due to one or more of the following:
A nerve is irritated or pinched, causing pain to radiate down the leg (radiculopathy)
The spinal cord is compressed
There is abnormal movement in the spine, causing low back pain
As a general guideline, if the pain has not gotten better after several months of participating in a treatment program (e.g. physical therapy, medications, injections), the patient may be advised to consult a spine surgeon. If the pain is so severe that even narcotic medications do not help, and the patient is not able to accomplish basic daily activities such as driving or going to work, it may be prudent to consult with a surgeon sooner.
In addition to the level of pain and ability to function, another consideration is the type of surgery that would be performed. Some procedures are minimally invasive and the patient may go home the same day as the surgery (e.g. microdiscectomy for a herniated disc), while other types of surgery are more extensive and require a longer hospital stay and healing time (e.g. a front-back fusion for degenerative disc disease).
Unlike many surgical procedures, low back surgery is typically elective, meaning that it is the patient’s choice whether to have the surgery or not. Surgery is only absolutely necessary if there is compression causing bowel/bladder incontinence or progressive weakness, as well in conditions associated with fracture, tumor, or infection.
There are a wide range of possible types of back surgery, so it is in the patient’s best interest to research his or her options and ask the surgeon relevant questions.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.