Lumbar Spine Surgery
For those with lower back pain, even the most simple tasks and motions can result in debilitating pain. Simple stretches might help to alleviate pain and stiffness in some individuals but for those with serious health issues, a surgical approach can be life changing. For deformities of the spine, spinal weakness or a herniated disk, lumbar spinal surgery can help to alleviate pain and improve overall quality of life.
Physical therapy and pain medicine can help to aid with pain reduction and temporarily help to improve mobility, these techniques are often implemented as a hold-over until a surgical approach can be taken.
Common Types of Lumbar Surgery
The goal of any surgical practice is to increase mobility and reduce pain, for either an underlying medical condition, or as the result of an accident or injury. The most common ways of managing medical issues within the lower back are through methods of surgical addition and subtraction: Lumbar Decompression and Lumbar Fusion.
Lumbar Decompression: involves removing a small portion of bone over the nerve root. This is designed to relieve pain from nerve pinching, often caused by a herniated disk and/or spinal stenosis. By removing bone over the nerve root or disk material from underneath it, it gives the area space to heal and alleviates pinching.
Lumbar Fusion: While decompression removes part of a bone or disk material, lumbar fusion aims to stop pain by using a bone graft to stop motion around a vertebrae segment. Bone is pulled from a bone bank or a similar material. Rods and screws are used to secure problem areas to an adjacent segment, eliminating motion between them. This type of surgery is meant to mimic the body’s natural healing process of mending broken bones. Spinal fusion surgery prevents pain and encourages mobility, and healing, but it is not a cure-all for degenerative conditions that can be reoccurring. A surgical approach will not cure degenerative disk disease or arthritis.
Dynamic Lumbar Spine Stabilization Surgery
An alternative to lumbar fusion, dynamic stabilization and motion preservation opt to stabilize the spine with flexible materials. This technique allows for mobility in the spinal canal, then spinal fusion surgery. The dynamic stabilization system is growing in popularity because it reduces risks associated with metal implants.
Flexible rods around the spinal cord limit motion between vertebrae but does not eliminate movement. This process also reduces the weight on spine joints and disks, which can reduce pain and improve recovery time.
Spinal stabilization is often recommended when the movement of a damaged spinal disk causes pain, or if a condition allows the spine to become unstable. When this occurs, excessive motion can cause the nerves adjacent to the spinal column to be pinched, leading to leg pain, numbness and weakness. By stabilizing the spinal column, abnormal motion is prevented, easing pain.
Although often left as a last resort, a surgical approach is often recommended if pain interrupts daily actives or impacts sleep. A standard practice x-ray can help to identify a herniated disk or a bone spur, but back pain does not stop there. In fact, for many British Columbians, it can take years of waiting to eliminate lower back pain.
Seeking Surgical Care
When waiting for medical care, every day can feel like an eternity. Many Canadians opt to lean on pain medication and basic practices to help mitigate aches and pains associated with the lower back. This might be a decent temporary solution but for more permanent relief, a surgical approach might be the solution – the trouble is finding a way to put that solution into practice.
As the demand for surgical procedures skyrockets, it becomes more and more difficult to book an appointment. Even if you are able to book an appointment, it can take years to see a surgeon, unless visiting a private care clinic. For those individuals living in British Columbia, privatized care is not an option. Far from living in pain, more and more residents are choosing to look elsewhere than wait years for an open opportunity.
With surgeons all across Canada, and abroad, it is possible to seek medical attention without waiting. With more options for care, it is possible to choose not only who performs your procedure, but when and how it is done.
Please contact us to learn more about Lumbar Spine Surgery.