Can You Get Blood Clots From Spinal Surgery?

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Spinal surgery has made significant advances in both its safety and efficiency in correcting many back problems, from traumatic spinal cord injury to degenerative diseases like spinal stenosis, spondylosis, and slipped disc. Many of these advances in spinal surgery have come in recent years due to minimally invasive microsurgical tools and techniques. Nonetheless, back surgery is a severe operation, and surgical candidates need to be aware of all facets of the procedure they’re considering – not only the benefits of the surgery but also the potential risks. One of the risks of spinal surgery is that of developing blood clots.

Any injury to the body increases the risk of a blood clot, as the injury itself stimulates the clotting process. Surgery constitutes an injury or trauma, and the body responds accordingly. Spinal surgery – which the body interprets as an injury to the spinal cord – can lead to the formation of blood clots within the veins. If such a thrombus becomes dislodged, it can block a blood vessel as it narrows, causing a stroke or heart attack, possibly resulting in paralysis or death. Proper postoperative care, medications, and the patient’s active role in the recovery process can minimize the risks of blood clots.

Table of Contents

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Risks for thrombosis

Treatment and prevention of DVT

Why choose the TOPS™

Conclusion

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

That’s a postoperative disease associated with thrombus forming in the deep veins of the lower extremities. Often, it is induced by muscle atony or, simply put, lack of movement. 

DVT symptoms include:

  • swelling of the feet;
  • sudden shortness of breath;
  • acute chest pain;
  • coughing up blood;
  • increased pulse rate;
  • fainting;
  • dizziness.

To understand why you get blood clots after surgery, it’s worth analyzing the typology of thrombus. So, the hemostasis of the human body is maintained by forming blood clots (e.g., during wound healing). But sometimes, such a phenomenon has a negative impact on the body’s functioning. The thrombus is formed as a result of activation of the blood coagulation system in response to a vascular injury. The occurrence of thrombosis is also associated with a violation of the venous wall. That’s life-threatening because pulmonary embolisms from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may happen later. A blood clot breaks off and goes through the bloodstream to the lungs, settling in the pulmonary arteries.

It may also cause some ischemic strokes or blood clots near the spine while blocking the artery that supplies the spinal cord. Its signs usually appear suddenly and can feel like a tight bandage wrapped around a torso. That’s precisely the point where the blood supply is disrupted. The thickening or narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the spinal cord often triggers cerebrospinal strokes. 

Risks for thrombosis

Treating conditions such as slipped discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylosis is much less likely to cause complications than a hip or knee replacement. The cumulative incidence of deep vein thrombosis or DVT, also known as blood clot after surgery, steadily increases during the first two weeks and depends on the professional hospital care and factors of the patient’s preoperative condition, for example:

  • general well-being;
  • age (for older patients, it is often difficult to rehabilitate since muscle tone is weakened);
  • previous surgical procedures;
  • comorbidity (diabetes and other chronic diseases);
  • smoking, alcohol, drug status (e.g., contraceptives);
  • osteoporosis (patients are at increased risk of complications if the bone mineral density is low);
  • excess weight (pressure on the spine will be increased – this will entail negative consequences and be crowned with severe pain syndrome, especially in the first weeks of recovery);
  • pregnancy (operating on pregnant women is rare; however, they are safe for the mother and fetus if modifications of anesthetic and surgical methods are applied); 
  • genetic bleeding disorders.

One of the misconceptions is regarding the existence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as a risk factor. The reality is that postoperative complications don’t occur; for the most part, they may be comorbid.

The most important concern after an operation is to prevent any negative consequences. In this case, we’re talking about two serious diseases: deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. 

Treatment and prevention of DVT

Since the thrombus has a high density, thinning drugs, namely anticoagulants, will prevent blood clotting (e.g., warfarin/ coumadin, heparin).

Note! Use the article for informational purposes only. Follow the therapeutic instructions of your doctor.

Clot busters are injected intravenously and break down clots. Filters settled in large veins can sometimes be used during therapy. Their function is to prevent pulmonary embolism. Compression stockings may also prevent puffiness (one of the signs we’ve noted above). 

Prevention of the illness in the postoperative period consists of maintaining normal body weight and good physical shape. Thus, you need to play sports, walk and avoid prolonged inactivity constantly. So, for example, it’s essential to take short walks. Discuss with your doctor how vulnerable you’re at risk of blood clotting, tell your medical history. If you suffer from comorbid diseases, such as diabetes or heart failure, ensure to report it. During the preoperative period, your goal should be to achieve a stable state of health. 

Blood clots in the back can be triggered by an invasive operation, trauma, disease. In 40% of cases, people who have suffered a cerebrospinal stroke can walk independently, 30% move with a cane, 20% are confined to a wheelchair. The scary data only makes you want to stay out of that 20% and 30%, right? Therefore, the preparatory period is significant: systematic; targeted treatment will help eliminate possible negative consequences. Anticoagulants, drugs that lower blood pressure, occupational therapy to preserve muscle function – these are all standard manipulations for preventing and treating cerebrospinal stroke. By the way, don’t forget to stick to a healthy diet – foods rich in fiber will help avoid the risks of intestinal inflammation. So take care of yourself now, not when you reap the rewards of a poor lifestyle.

Why choose the TOPS™

Anyone considering back surgery should also be aware that some procedures for treating a spinal problem may present lower risks or provide better outcomes than others. For example, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) procedure, which may be performed after spinal decompression surgery to stabilize the spine, provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery, which was the traditional choice for spine stabilization before the introduction of the TOPS system. 

The TOPS provides for minimally invasive spine surgery and thereby significantly reduces the risks associated with DVT. Previously, when knowledge in spine treatment wasn’t as developed as today, the fusion procedure was the only available and most innovative option. The vertebrae were “glued” into a relatively rigid structure, which significantly limited movement. Even though flexion and extension weren’t possible, and the risks were very impressive, the fusion continues to be performed today. However, TOPS™ surgery has become a more acceptable alternative to treating degenerative spondylolisthesis of lumbar spinal stenosis for many younger physicians. Its advantage is movement in all axial directions, as well as stability.

The structure is implanted using a traditional posterior surgical approach, but the TOPS system exerts less force on the screws than other configurations. 

Conclusion

After the operation, the blood clotting mechanism in the body is very active because it’s aimed at stopping bleeding. Damage to the blood vessels around the surgical site is often the cause of DVT. Thrombus can form in the veins of the lower extremities but travel to the pulmonary veins with the blood flow, generating pulmonary embolisms, which are life-threatening. This process can last for weeks, and some symptoms can be identical to other diseases. The same shortness of breath or coughing are often warning symptoms, and if the convalescent neglects visits to the hospital or rehabilitation center, then often valuable time can be wasted. 

The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion and also has significantly lower risks of thrombosis, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. If you’re a candidate for back surgery, make sure you understand not only the upsides and downsides but also all the alternative surgical solutions that can help you minimize the already low risks associated with advanced spinal procedures.

How soon can you return to athletics after spinal surgery?

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Near the top of the list of questions from almost every spinal surgery, the patients indicate how long they will have to wait for the following surgery before resuming their everyday activities. When it includes athletics – golf and tennis, bowling and the like, pastimes that put tremendous strain on the back – the answer becomes more complex. The factors influencing the time before patients can get back in the game include their physical condition and health. Just because one engages in strenuous physical activity doesn’t mean they are in good physical condition or health. Recovery times are faster for surgery patients in good physical shape because their bodies heal more quickly. Of course, the operation itself will play a significant role in deciding when you’ll be back on the tennis courts, golf course, taking a job, or engaging in a simple walk. The postoperative physical therapy program also plays a significant role. But the type of back surgery is the primary factor affecting the time required to get back into sports activities.

How to recover from surgery if you are an athlete or cannot live without daily activity – read further in this article.

Table of contents

  1. What does it mean to be in recovery?
  2. Exercises after surgery
  3. Conclusion

What does it mean to be in recovery?

While many people consider back surgery as the end of a promising sports career, Olympic, amateur, or professional athletes have returned to their competition after many common types of operations. General physical condition, professionalism during surgery, and spine rehabilitation affect how quickly you return to the game. Here are some tips for athletes planning to return to sport after a minimally invasive intervention. 

Follow your doctor’s recommendations

In most cases, surgeons consult about postoperative care. They depend not only on the patient’s health and medical history but also on the desire to return to sports. We previously discussed lower back surgery recovery: diet, exercise, physical therapy, massages, proper wound care, and medication support are vital aspects of recovery. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect motivation and grit to achieve success. And if your competition is right around the corner, and you’re still in the hospital ward, this is not a reason to be upset. Your orthopedic surgeon will take this into account when planning your postoperative period. Of course, everyone wants to leave and start an everyday life immediately. Still, following the recommendations, you’ll be able to return to sports faster than causing implicit harm to your body during self-rehabilitation. Returning too early cancels not only the healing but the operation’s effectiveness. 

So, a doctor’s advice may include:

  • doing certain exercises
  • wearing compression bandages, insoles, and stockings to avoid the risk of complications
  • A diet that includes vitamin and mineral complexes
  • A set of particular activities after back surgery.

Define your limits

You’d also talk to your coach about your career prospects or options (if you’re an amateur athlete) when getting approval from your PCP to return to athletics. It’s essential to be careful and aware of the limitations.

The postoperative stage depends on the patient, understanding the symptoms of complications, and a quick reaction if something goes wrong. E.g., accurately characterizing the level of pain and discomfort, reporting aches, numbness of the limbs, dizziness, suppuration in the wound area doesn’t mean a step back in the rehabilitation progress, but on the contrary, the ability to accelerate after a slight slowdown. Try to protect the spine, especially in the early stages of recovery. Respect your body and its healing times. 

Don’t forget about the course of drugs

Infections at the site of the surgical incision most often occur 2–4 weeks after the intervention. Most often, the following symptoms appear:

  • redness and suppuration at the incision site;
  • back pain that gets worse;
  • fever and fever;
  • change in consistency, odor, and color of drainage.

It’s essential to treat any of these and some other signs as they arise. If ignored, unavoidable consequences may occur. 

For patients with deep infection, a course of intravenous antibiotics is often given for about two months. Chronic contamination leads to the removal of the implant. 

Keep the wound clean: it must be washed with water and soap at least once a day. Remember to keep the wound dry for healing and crusting. It’s undesirable to utilize ointments, lotions, body creams on the operated areas. After two weeks, when the staples or stitches are removed, you may return to bathing or swimming. 

For opioid pain relievers, discontinuation usually occurs within the first few weeks, at most a month. There are other pain management options, such as using acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. But, as in the first case, they have their pros and cons and depend on the medical history. By combining medicines with physical therapy, you can achieve impressive results. 

It’s no secret that athletes’ dedication to the postoperative rehabilitation program greatly influences their subsequent success. Depending on overall progress in physical therapy, you may get consent to exercise, but return to activity must be gradual and gentle to avoid unnecessary risks.

Exercises after surgery

Patients, who have undergone minimally invasive TOPS™ procedures, can usually regain a full and painless range of motion. They have the greatest likelihood of returning to sport at pre-injury levels. Conversely, most exercises after spinal fusion aren’t available to athletes, and the possibility of injury increases – they’re less likely to return to athletics. Any collisions and falls will negatively affect health.

In any case, physiotherapy is a panacea for healing – movement combined with other aspects of rehabilitation can give you a chance for a better life. Let’s consider the leading practices that are useful for patients in the postoperative period.

Walking

It’s worth moving daily to improve blood circulation and speed up the healing of muscles and spine tissues. E.g., an essential therapy is walking, which can support the normal functioning of the heart and lungs. An upright position of the body is the best activity for the spine after surgery – this way, you can protect the discs from unnecessary stress. So, start with simple walks, and then work with your coach to develop your exercise program.

Bench press

That’s one of the simplest and effective therapies utilized in various types of operations. For instance, laminectomy recovery exercises are invaluable as they help protect discs and strengthen your back muscles.

This exercise is valuable because the discs hold the lower back during flexion and extension of the lumbar spine. So, to perform the training, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Lie face down with your arms parallel to your body.
  2. The back and hips should be relaxed. Gently lift your upper body while leaning on your stomach. Feel light pressure in your lumbar region.
  3. Hold this position for about two seconds and slowly lower yourself to the floor. Do ten hikes.

Straight leg raise (SLR) 

To strengthen the muscles of the lower back, it’s worth doing the SLR exercise. To do this, while lying on your stomach, slowly and alternately lift each leg up. In doing so, try to tighten your abdominal muscles. Do an exercise with a delay of two seconds at the highest point of the limb position. As before, do ten reps per set. Such a physiotherapy approach is appropriate for laminectomy, fusion, microdiscectomy, decompression, and of course, implantation.

In some cases, the surgical treatment chosen for a given spinal condition will affect not only the time needed to get back on the playing field but the degree to which you will ever be able to recover your old form. Take the stabilization procedure following spinal decompression surgery, for example. Spinal decompression is performed to relieve pressure on nerves within or emanating from the spine caused by conditions including spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and other degenerative changes or as a result of spinal cord trauma. Spinal fusion back surgery has been the primary stabilization procedure. But the fused vertebrae lose their independent motion following stabilization. Often, patients are restricted from physical activity for up to 6 months while waiting for the biological fusion process to complete. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS™ System, a surgical implant, stabilizes the spine while preserving each vertebra’s independent motion – and the good news is that there are no restrictions on your physical activity after surgery. That’s going to ensure better performance whenever it’s time to get back in the game.

Conclusion

As you improve your range of motion in your spine, it’s time to start doing more challenging activities that will help you get back to working condition. To do this, discuss a possible change in activity with a PCP and trainer and adjust the training schedule. After implantation, you don’t have to worry that you can’t perform some exercises. The TOPS™ System is an alternative to spinal fusion and allows you to perform any range of movements required for warm-up, training, and cool-down.

Preparing for Spinal Fusion Surgery, Part II

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Doctors Completing Surgery

In our last blog we began addressing the topic of preparing for spinal fusion back surgery.  We touched upon tests that may be performed, and the need to prepare physically through a conditioning regimen so your body is ready for the rigors of surgery. Here are additional points anyone considering spinal fusion should remember:

One potential complication of spinal fusion surgery is excessive bleeding. Several commonly used medications can increase bleeding, including aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, as can anticoagulants such as warfarin. You will need to discontinue use of any such medications. Should your physician or surgeon be concerned about the risk of excessive blood loss during your spinal fusion operation, you may bank your own blood, called an autologous blood donation, before the surgery.

Be sure to discuss all the medications you are taking with your physicians, and they will advise you when (and if) you should stop taking them. Some medications could cause adverse affects in combination with the anesthetics or other medications used during the operation, and anti-inflammatory medication such as cortisone and chemotherapy can compromise the body’s ability to heal.

Failure of the bone graft to heal, called pseudarthrosis, is one of spinal fusion’s most problematic post-surgical complications. Smoking is associated with this complication, and nicotine has been shown to compromise the ability of bone cells to grow. It is imperative that smokers stop smoking prior to the surgery, and not smoke before their recovery is complete.

Before resigning yourself to spinal fusion surgery, remember that spinal problems often respond to more conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and healthy lifestyle changes. Alternative surgical procedures may also be available. For example, many candidates for spinal fusion can choose the TOPSTM(Total Posterior Solution) System instead. The TOPS System not only preserves all the natural flexion of individual vertebrae, unlike spinal fusion, but it has also been shown to have better outcomes in clinical trials around the world. Indeed, investigating alternative options is another productive way to prepare for a spinal fusion operation.

How to Prepare for Spinal Fusion Back Surgery

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Doctors Performing Surgery

Spinal fusion back surgery is often performed in conjunction with spinal decompression treatment. The decompression procedure relieves pressure on pinched nerves emanating from the spine, reducing pain and restricted mobility in limbs caused by the compressed nerve. But the spinal decompression surgery involves removing portions of vertebrae, making the spine weaker at these points. Thus, spinal fusion surgery is performed to strengthen the spine after decompression, and involves fusing two adjacent vertebrae with the use of an implant.

Preparing for spinal fusion surgery – whether performed on the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine – is similar to preparations for any spinal operation, but there are a few specifics to be aware of. First, be prepared to be thoroughly examined before the surgery is performed, so your physicians can plan all aspects of your operation. Radiograph assessments of spinal instability, EMG to test nerve function, and an MRI, CAT, or other scan is often performed to identify nerve compression.

Your overall physical condition will also be assessed to ensure you are in sufficient health to undergo the rigors of the surgery. You will need to discuss any and all pre-existing medical conditions with your physicians, and further evaluation of such conditions may be necessary before proceeding with spine fusion surgery. In fact, one of the most important ways to prepare for spinal fusion is to get into the best physical condition possible. Being in good physical condition translates into fewer complications during surgery and faster recoveries after, among other benefits.

Spinal surgery of any kind should be considered a last resort, undertaken only if more conservative treatments have proven ineffective. But many patients undergoing spinal decompression now have an alternative procedure to spinal fusion, shown in clinical tests around the world to have better outcomes than spinal fusion. The TOPSTM (Total Posterior Solution) System stabilizes the spine without eliminating the independent motion of the individual vertebrae, as spinal fusion does. So one of the best ways to prepare for spinal fusion is to find out if an alternative solution like TOPS makes more sense than spinal fusion surgery for you or a loved one.

Back Pain and Steroid Injections

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Back Pain and Steroid Injections

Epidural injections of steroids have often been the treatment of choice for patients with a pinched nerve in the back whose symptoms did not respond to simple exercise, physical therapy, or other more conservative approaches. Steroid injections have also been offered to patients with spinal stenosis whose back pain was unrelieved by less invasive therapy. But the results of a new research study hint that injections of steroids for back pain may be less beneficial than believed. The study is small, but it still bears consideration, as the findings are statistically valid and underscore why healing is as much an art as a science.

The study of the efficacy of steroid injections for back pain examined more than 270 patients, aged 53 to 75 years old, culled from the ranks of a larger study of individuals with spinal health problems. The research subjects were followed for four years. Sixty-nine of these patients had epidural injections and 207 did not, but otherwise the patients’ symptoms were primarily the same in terms of severity, as measured by well-established scales used to measure pain in the leg and lower back. Using these scales, researchers found less improvement among those who had epidural injections than among patients who did not have injections.

Several caveats must be offered when considering the results of this research. First, as the authors readily acknowledge, factors that the researchers didn’t account for and couldn’t control may have affected or skewed the results. Nonetheless, we are seeing fresh thinking and new techniques improving outcomes for many spinal patients. For example, patients who elected to have spinal decompression surgery to relieve symptoms of pinched nerves typically opted for a spinal fusion back surgery in tandem, in order to stabilize the spine. Today, a growing number are opting for TOPSTM – the Total Posterior Solution – System, instead of spinal fusion. The TOPS system, unlike spinal fusion, preserves complete independent motion of the individual vertebrae. This is one more way that fresh thinking, and new technologies and procedures are transforming the care and treatment of back problems.

Recovering from Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis, a common medical problem, denotes an unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal, the center of the spinal column housing the spinal nerves that relay sensorial information to the brain and control the movements of our muscles. The term stenosis comes from Latin, and means a narrowing. When a portion of the spinal canal narrows unnaturally, it can put pressure on the spinal nerves, and these pinched nerves in turn can cause pain and limit mobility.

The good news is that a variety of treatment options are available that have been proven effective in helping individuals recover from or ameliorate the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Conservative, non-invasive therapies include simple lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy, and injections of anti-inflammatory agents. For patients with spinal stenosis, there’s no way of knowing which of these approaches will be most successful, so physicians may simply prescribe one of these treatments as a first step, and monitor the results to see how the patient responds. If the first method selected doesn’t achieve the results of helping the patient recover from spinal stenosis, the next option may be tried, and so on.

For patients with moderate to severe spinal stenosis who do not respond to conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. In this form of spinal decompression surgery, the surgeon trims away excess bone in the narrowed center of the affected vertebra, relieving pressure on the compressed nerve or nerves. Historically, a spinal fusion back surgery operation has been performed in conjunction with surgery to relieve spinal stenosis, in order to stabilize the region of the spine where the operation was performed. Today there’s an important, and better alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS (Total Posterior Spine) System procedure provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery. The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. TOPS also offers a much quicker recovery from surgical treatment for spinal stenosis than spinal fusion. If you’re a candidate for spinal stenosis surgery, make sure you understand all the advanced surgical solutions available today, and what impact each will have on your recovery from this condition.

Back Treatment Options

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Spinal fusion

In our previous blog we discussed the tremendous stresses borne by the lumbar, or lower portion of the spine comprising the five lowest vertebrae. In fact, lumbar back pain is a significant health issue, affecting about 70 to 85 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Among the most common causes of lumbar spinal problems is the degeneration of bones and tissue in the spine that occur as a normal part of aging. But one doesn’t have to be older to have lumbar spinal problems. Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people under the age of 45, according to the NIH. Trauma or injury, poor posture and biomechanics, genetics, obesity and poor muscle tone can all result in lumbar spinal problems that cause pain, limit mobility, and have other serious health consequences. These conditions include spinal stenosis, bulging disc, herniated disc, slipped disc, radiculopathy and spondylolisthesis.

A variety of treatment options are available for individuals affected by conditions causing lumbar back pain. Individuals with moderate to severe cases of these conditions who do not respond to conservative treatment options such as medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes, may opt for a surgical solution. Frequently this involves cutting away portions of a lumbar vertebra that is impinging, or putting pressure on a nerve emanating from the spinal column. Such spinal decompression surgery can have a dramatic impact on relieving pain and restoring mobility. However, removing bony elements also weakens and destabilizes the spine, so historically a procedure known as lumbar fusion, or lumbar spinal fusion has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression back surgery of the lower spine. In this procedure the vertebra from which tissue was removed is fused to an adjacent vertebra. This stabilizes and strengthens the spine, but lumbar fusion eliminates the natural flexion and independent motion of the fused vertebrae. Today lumbar decompression surgery patients have an alternative to lumbar fusion: the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System. TOPS preserves the full range of the spine’s natural motion, and has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world. If you are considering surgery for a lumbar spinal problem, ask your physician about all your surgical options.

What is Lumbar Spinal Decompression?

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Spinal Stenosis

Imagine if the branches of a tree were just as big at the top as they are at the bottom, and that sometimes, heavy loads were placed on the ends of the very highest branches. Think of the stress that would put on the lower portion of the tree trunk. Well, that’s analogous to the situation we humans experience with our spinal columns. Our spinal column is like the trunk of a tree, but we’re just as big at the top of our trunks as at the bottom. The stress this puts on our lower backs – also called the lumbar region of the spine – is exacerbated by the cumulative affect of a lifetime of lifting and twisting in combination with degenerative changes of the spine that occur as a result of aging. So it’s not surprising that the majority of back problems that bring patients to spinal specialists are centered in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine.

These stresses, along with our genetic makeup, disease or injury, can result in a host of spinal disorders such as bulging or herniated discs, slipped disc and spinal stenosis. These disorders, in turn, can result in unnatural pressure being put on nerves that emanate from the spinal column, potentially causing pain, restricted mobility, and other symptoms of pinched nerves. We talked about the problem of pinched spinal nerve and spinal decompression in general in a previous blog. As we noted, spinal decompression is a means of easing pressure on impinged spinal nerves, and can be performed either non-surgically or surgically. Lumbar spinal decompression simply refers to decompression procedures performed on the lower portion of the spine.

The surgical solution for a lumbar pinched nerve involves removing tissue from vertebrae in the lumbar region that impinge, or put pressure on a nerve. This is called lumbar spinal decompression surgery. Historically, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with lumbar decompression surgery to stabilize the spine. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion that preserves the full range of the spine’s natural motion, and has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world. This provides an important more treatment option for individuals with moderate to severe symptoms of pinched nerves who do not respond to non-surgical lumbar decompression procedures.

What is Spinal Decompression?

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Spinal Decompression

It may sound like something only a deep sea diver needs to be concerned about, but spinal decompression is an important topic for many people suffering from debilitating back pain. Spinal decompression refers to the process of relieving pressure on one or more pinched, or impinged nerves in the spinal column. The pressure on such nerves can cause pain, restrict mobility, and result in a host of other physical problems that can manifest in almost any part of the body. A host of spinal conditions, including spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, bulging, herniated or slipped discs, and facet syndrome can put pressure on nerves emanating from the spinal column.

Spinal decompression can be performed both surgically and non surgically. Non-surgical spinal decompression utilizes mechanical, computer controlled traction devices to reduce the pressure placed on nerves in specific portions of the spine. Inversion therapy, in which patients hang upside down, is another from of non-surgical spinal decompression.

For patients who do not respond to non-invasive methods, spinal decompression surgery can achieve dramatic improvements. In this surgical procedure, portions of the bone or tissue of the spine that impinge of a nerve are cut away, relieving the pressure. Historically, a spinal fusion procedure was performed in conjunction with spinal decompression surgery, in order to stabilize the spine at the point where the decompression procedure was performed. But spinal fusion, in which two vertebrae are fused to enhance spinal stability, eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and may accelerate degeneration of adjacent vertebrae. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion for patients undergoing spinal decompression back surgery. Unlike spinal fusion, TOPS preserves the full range of the spine’s natural motion, and has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world.

If you’re a patient whose pinched spinal nerve is not responding to non-invasive decompression methods, make sure you discuss all your surgical options with your physicians.

What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

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spinal stenosis exercises

Spinal stenosis – one of the most common spinal conditions – is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. (“Stenosis” refers to a narrowing, or constriction.) As the spinal canal progressively narrows over time, it puts pressure on the nerves branching out from the spine, causing pain, tingling, and numbness in the extremities. The condition can occur in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine – lumbar spinal stenosis, which is the most common form – or in the neck, or cervical region of the spine – cervical spinal stenosis.

The majority of cases of spinal stenosis develop for unknown reasons, but the causes of spinal stenosis can be traced to several components of spinal anatomy, including the intervertebral discs, the facet joints that connect the vertebrae to each other, and the spinal cord. The narrowing of the spinal canal may result from abnormal bone growth and/or tissue growth, or due to a hereditary disorder. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle including exercise, good nutrition and maintaining proper weight can help prevent spinal stenosis.

Options for treatment of spinal stenosis include spinal stenosis exercises, physical therapy that can relieve pressure on the spinal cord, and medication to reduce pain and inflammation. In extreme cases, surgery for spinal stenosis may be recommended. The surgery removes potions of the vertebrae that are impinging on the roots of nerves emanating from the spine. Following this spinal decompression procedure, spinal fusion back surgery has traditionally been performed to stabilize the spine. Unfortunately, this stabilization procedure eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and can contribute to the deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion that maintains the spine’s full range of motion, and that has been proven in clinical studies conducted worldwide to provide superior outcomes than spinal fusion following spinal decompression surgery. So patients seeking surgical relief for an abnormal narrowing of the spine now have access to a wider range of treatment options than ever.