Common Questions About Back Pain: Do You Need Back Surgery?
If you’re experiencing ongoing or severe back pain, you’re likely wondering if you’ll need back surgery to finally rid yourself of that constant back ache or debilitating back pain. The answer will come once your spinal surgeon assesses your back pain or back injury symptoms, and takes a full medical history, to review your general health level and medical issues. But before you panic, keep in mind that back surgery is generally needed only in a small percentage of back paincases. Most back pain can be resolved by a range of non-surgical options that can keep you off the operating table and have you feeling better soon. Some of these are as the application of ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and massage. Changing your diet with the goal of losing weight can also help take pressure off the nerves in your back and once the initial discomfort is lessened, exercise can also provide non-surgical relief.
However, when conservative treatments don’t help, back surgery may be your physician’s advice. This is often the case when your doctor is seeking to get you relief from back pain that’s limiting your lifestyle, interrupting your sleep and preventing you from being active and at your best.
Here are the symptoms and conditions that might mean back surgery would be an optimal solution for you:
- If you have a back injury or condition that causes compression to your spinal nerves, causing debilitating back pain or numbness along the back of your leg.
- If you have a bulging disc or ruptured (herniated) discs, which means the the rubbery ‘cushions’ separating the bones in your spine aren’t at their best and are causing discs to move without the cushioning they need.
- If you have fractured vertebrae or other damage to your spinal column from a back injury. A fractured disc will cause pain, and also leaves your spine unstable, often causing additional back pain.
- If you have fractured vertebrae or other spine issues such as osteoporosis.
- If your prescribed conservative remedies including medication and physical therapy for back pain aren’t bringing you relief, and you’re still suffering from back pain and other systems after a longer-than-usual amount of time.
You may also be diagnosed with a condition that causes back pain and additional progressive nerve compression:
- Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can compress nerves in the back
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal typically caused by arthritis
- Spondylolisthesis, the forward slippage of a segment of the spine
- Degenerative disc disease, the development of pain in a disc as a result of its normal wear and tear over time
- Radiculopathy, the irritation and inflammation of a nerve caused by a herniated disc
- Kyphosis, a humpback deformity
- And other degenerative disc conditions
Your spinal surgeon’s primary goal is to eliminate your back pain and to return your quality of life. When a progressive condition is diagnosed through testing and examination, back surgery may certainly move to the forefront of your surgeon’s mind. It is their job to consider your best and personalized options for ridding you of back pain before your current condition deteriorates further.