Deciding On Lower Back Surgery

Bothered by chronic back pain? Does the back continue to worsen? If so, lower back surgery might be the answer. Knowing all the choices is essential.

Many people suffer from some form of lower back pain. It is estimated that up to 90% of all UK citizens will have at least one episode of back pain, while 50% have recurring problems. Low back pain is the second leading cause of missed work days behind the common cold. The older you get, the more likely you will experience some level of low back pain. It can be caused by bad posture, slipped discs, strains, arthritis, or injury. In the majority of cases, lower back pain can be treated effectively without surgery and goes away after a period of time. See this link for pain management for back pain at home. However, in some cases the pain becomes chronic and begins to negatively effect a persons quality of life. In those cases, low back surgery becomes an possible option.

Types of Back Pain

Back pain is generally classified in two groups: acute and chronic. Acute back pain is short-term and most often lasts anywhere from a few days up to a month. Chronic back pain is considered pain that last for longer than three months. The pain may come and go, it may be progressive or it may have intermittent levels of mild pain mixed with periods of severe pain.

In cases of acute back pain, treatment does not usually involve surgery, and it often goes away without any treatment. The pain can be treated and soothed by using analgesics, an anti-inflammatory medicine, ice, or heat. Additional alternatives to surgery include chiropractic care, physical therapy, and acupuncture. All these treatments are also beneficial for chronic pain and should be considered before surgery. However, when these methods fail to produce results, or if the pain progresses begins to interfere with quality of life, it is time to contemplate the realities of back surgery.

There are many different types of back surgery. According to these include spinal fusion, disectomy, laminectomy, and other types of fusion surgeries. Some of these surgeries can be performed under local anesthesia in a physicians office, while others types require hospitalization. Some of the more serious surgeries have an extended hospitalization period and recovery time. Even though back surgery is common, it often fails to improve the condition.

When facing the possibility of back surgery it is imperative to carefully weigh the risks and the benefits. Asking as many questions as needed when meeting with the physician is essential. Always get a second opinion before deciding on any type of surgery. Seeking the advice of others who have had a similar type of surgery is very helpful. Doing online research to learn more about the various types of surgery, any potential alternative treatments, the length of recovery, and any possible complications. There is plenty of information online, including testimonials from those who have had surgery on their backs. This can be useful in learning what to expect before, during and after any lower back surgery.

One of the most common causes of debilitating lower back pain is lumbar herniated disc. As a disc degenerates, it can start to herniate. When a disc herniates, the inner core leaks out and the space between the vertebrae decreases. This often puts pressure on a nerve, which can then cause pain. One type of pain is called sciatica. Sciatica is a type of leg pain which can possibly include tingling, numbness or weakness. These symptoms originate in the lower back and travels through the buttocks and down the leg.

Alternative Treatments for Back Pain

If the pain persists, alternative treatments can be attempted. Visiting a chiropractor, attending physical therapy sessions or utilizing spinal decompression procedures may help. If these treatments fail to work and the herniated disc does not improve, lower back surgery may be the next step. Lumbar herniated disc surgery is designed to alleviate and eliminate the pain and take pressure off the nerve by surgically removing the portion of the disc that is pressing on it. This surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. Occasionally there may be an overnight stay at the hospital, but patients often return to work in a week or ten days.

Another common cause of back pain, especially in older people, is facet joint osteoarthritis. This is also known as degenerative disc disease or degenerative arthritis, though they are really different conditions. As explained on, osteoarthritis causes the breakdown of essential cartilage between the facet joints. As the joints move, this lack of cartilage causes increased pain, loss of motion and stiffness. The facet joints are located in the rear section of the spine and consist of two opposing bony surfaces. Cartilage sits between the two surfaces and a capsule surrounding it produces fluid. With the cartilage and fluid at normal and usual amounts, the joints move with very little friction. However, the arthritis causes the cartilage to breakdown; with less cartilage there is more friction. And with more friction comes more pain and stiffness.

Unfortunately there are not many viable surgical options for facet joint osteoarthritis. The only commonly used surgery is a fusion surgery. With fusion surgery, one or more of the vertebrae are fused, or joined together. This fusion prevents motion at the affected joint causing less friction and less pain. Spinal fusion surgery is generally not recommended because osteoarthritis usually affects multiple vertebrae, and multiple fusions are definitely not advisable. This type of surgery is often unsuccessful; even when successful the recovery time can be quite lengthy.

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