Most people with back or neck pain never need surgery, but sometimes the pain is so severe that it’s the only answer. Issues that can lead to a need for spinal surgery range from accidents that cause a herniated disk to degenerative conditions like arthritis.
Most people will be able to cope with those issues with pain medication, physical therapy, and other strategies, but a few will need more help. Here are some of the issues that may lead a patient to see a spinal surgeon.
- Damaged disks. We have disks in our backs—rubbery cushions between each vertebra that keep the bones from rubbing against each other. Sometimes an accident or injury causes them to rupture. In addition, with age they dry out and become less effective at cushioning. Many people are able to manage disk problems without surgery, but if that’s not working, your surgeon can remove the damaged part of a disc and in some cases replace it with an artificial disk.
- Bone spurs. These bumps of extra bone often form near injured joints; in many cases, they’re a result of osteoarthritis. They often cause no pain but can cause problems if they rub against a nerve, tendon, or other sensitive spot.
- Spinal stenosis. This is a shrinking of the space in your spinal column, which is where your spinal cord and the nerves leading away from it are located. When the space begins to narrow, often from osteoarthritis, you may have pain, numbness, or weak muscles. If other treatments aren’t working, your doctor may recommend a laminectomy, in which bones and ligaments are removed, making more space in the spinal canal.
- Spondylolisthesis. This is a condition in which a vertebra slips forward and no longer lines up properly with the vertebrae above and below it. If physical therapy and rest don’t provide relief, you may need surgery.
- Broken bones. People sometimes break back or neck bones during accidents. Another common cause is osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle as we age, A brace may be sufficient to treat the break, but in some cases, you may need surgery.
- Tumors. Sometimes cancers that originate in other parts of the body will spread to the spine and create a tumor there. Non-cancerous tumors in the spine are also possible and can cause pain, numbness, or weakness.
For more information on whether spinal surgery is necessary for your condition, or to make an appointment with the doctors at NeuroMicroSpine, please call (850) 934-7545 or click here to request an appointment. We hope to see you soon!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.