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For people with moderate to severe spinal problems that do not respond to conventional conservative therapy, spinal surgery can provide dramatic relief. For example, spinal decompression can remove pressure on nerves, relieve pain and restore mobility in many such patients. If you’re a candidate for spinal surgery, it’s important to understand all aspects of the procedure and its aftermath. One of the most important questions these patients should have answers to is the length of time required to recover from spinal surgery.
Recovery time from back surgery depends on the form of surgery. Broadly speaking, there are two forms of back surgery: procedures where vertebrae are fused together versus procedures that do not immobilize the spine. Recovery from fusion surgery can take longer than the recovery time from back surgeries that only involve a decompression or a surgery that preserves motion. Your physician can tell you more about the recovery time required for a particular procedure. But it’s important for patients to consider outcomes as well as recovery time. For example, spinal decompression surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal fusion back surgery. As part of the recovery process, restrictions on motions and activities are placed on the patient to allow the previously independent vertebral bodies to biologically fuse together and become one long rigid segment devoid of motion. In contrast, with the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System, an alternative to spinal fusion following a spinal decompression procedure, there are no restrictions placed on the patient. You maintain full range of independent vertebral motion after surgery, and the speed of recovry from this back surgery is dictated by the patient. You can increase you activity level as quickly as you want.
Back surgery treatment does not end when the surgeon completes his or her operative work. The recovery period is of critical importance in restoring spinal health. Whatever the recovery period required, make sure you carefully follow your physician’s instructions. And be aware of all your options for spinal surgery, so you’ll not only have as short a recovery time as possible, but also the best possible outcome to your back surgery.
As we noted in our last blog, X-Stop, an implant deployed in the surgical treatment of mild spinal stenosis, was approved by the FDA in 2005 as a safe and effective treatment for symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. This procedure illustrates the advances that make spinal medicine such an exciting field. Today, there are devices similar to the X-Stop in design but that do allow motion at the operative segment. These devices are used to create a spinal fusion between the adjacent vertebral segments. This procedure is more commonly referred to as an interspinous process fusion. As with the X-Stop, a device is inserted in a small incision made between adjacent spinous processes, which are the bony protrusions of the vertebrae that can be seen and felt along the back of the spine. Interspinous process fusion is another form of spinal fusion back surgery that eliminates the natural flexion and rotational ability of the individual vertebrae.
Interspinous process fusion is typically performed in about one hour, either under general anesthesia or using intravenous sedation with local anesthesia, and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure is relevant for patients who have mild spinal stenosis and require only a minimal removal of bone and soft tissue to achieve pain relief. This represents an advance in spinal care, but any spinal surgery has the risk of complications, and not every technique is right for every patient. Before considering surgical intervention including interspinous process fusion, patients should try more conservative treatments such as exercises, physical therapy, epidural injections, and pain medications. When surgery is recommended, interspinous process fusion is most appropriate for people over 50 years of age with mild spinal stenosisconfined to one or two levels of the spine, and who experience relief from symptoms when bending forward at the waist or when sitting. With more advanced spinal stenosis disease, patients should consider the option of avoiding fusion surgery and opting for a solution, such as TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty, that preserves motion of the spine at the operative level while stabilizing the segment after decompression surgery. Here at Premia Spine, developers of advanced surgical treatments for spinal stenosis and related spinal problems, we think it’s important for anyone suffering from ongoing back pain or restricted mobility to know all their treatment options.
X-Stop is a minimally invasive spinal surgery procedure that may be performed to treat cases of lumbar spinal stenosis that don’t respond to more conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and medication. X-Stop is also the name of the titanium implant used in the procedure, a device in a category termed “Interspinous Process Decompression Systems.” This lumbar spinal surgery procedure was approved as safe and effective by the FDA in 2005.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is an unnatural narrowing of the spinal column in the lower, or lumbar portion of the spine. The constricted spinal canal that characterizes spinal stenosis puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves emanating from it at the affected vertebrae, which can cause pain and restrict mobility. In the X-Stop procedure, the titanium implant is inserted into the spine through a small incision made between two spinal “processes” of the vertebra affected by stenosis. Spinous processes are the protrusions of the individual vertebra visible along the back. The X-Stop device distracts two vertebral segments and relieves the pressure on the nerve roots caused by the stenosis, which in turn often relieves leg and back pain. The X-Stop, a recent advance in spinal stenosis surgery, is not an alternative to spinal fusion back surgery, a procedure that eliminates the natural flexion and rotation of the fused vertebrae. The X-Stop is ideal for patients with very mild spinal stenosis. For more advanced disease, the X-Stop is not applicable because the implant cannot be used when decompression surgery is necessary to remove the bony elements pressing on nerve roots. In such situations, where decompression surgery is performed in conjunction with spine stabilization, the TOPS System may be a more relevant solution for maintaining the spine’s native motion.
As developers of treatments for advanced spinal stenosis and associated conditions, we at Premia Spinerecommend that patients learn about all their treatment options. If you have a back condition that’s causing pain or is affecting your mobility, be certain to learn about all the choices available to you.