Getting Back on Your Feet: When Is Back Surgery a Good Course of Action?

There are a number of factors that one needs to consider and discuss with their doctor, before having back surgery. You may feel as if physical therapy and medications will be the answer for the long haul, but eventually, most back issues get worse and require surgical intervention.

Spinal Deformities

Spinal deformities such as Spondylolysthesis (where one or more vertebrae pushes forward into the other vertebrae), Scoliosis (a slight to a severe bend in the spine), or Kyphosis (a forward bend in the spine) can be fixed surgically by a back doctor.

Issues with Nerve Compression

Other problems and pains in the back, like those caused by nerve compression, can be relieved with intensive therapy, but may ultimately require surgery. Spinal Stenosis (a narrowing of the spine), Herniated or Ruptured Discs (breaks or bulging in the padding between the vertebrae), Bone Spurs (a growth that works its way into the nerves running through the spinal cord), tumors or breaks in the spine are a few of the more severe conditions a doctor can correct with surgery.

Other Back Problems

A back surgeon can help you feel better if you are experiencing any of the following issues:

·         A spinal infection – this is often accompanied by a high fever and back pain

·         Trouble using your hands or walking, which includes falling down frequently

·         Issues with weakness and/or numbness in your limbs, including fingers and toes

·         Lost control of bladder and/or bowels due to nerve issues in the back

When is Surgery Recommended?

Most individuals with back pain will try medications, heat and ice compresses, at home exercises and physical therapy before they will agree to surgery. Many people believe back surgery to be a last resort because they fear they may never walk again. Surgery on the back has come a long way and is less invasive than it once was.

When your back pain causes shooting pains down your lower back and through each leg, when you experience weakness and/or numbness in your feet, legs and/or buttocks, it is time to seek a back surgeons help. There is no need to live with pain when there are surgeries that can alleviate the pain and discomfort and have you up on your feet in a short period of time.

Risks and Other Concerns

As with all surgeries, there is a small risk of infection or nerve damage if something goes wrong. A back surgeon will discuss your concerns and the possible risks before you agree to the procedure. 

You will need to commit to your health after the surgery is completed. This includes continuing physical therapy in order to build your strength back up to where it was before your procedure. You will also need to lose or keep your weight down so as not to re-injure your back.

The final decision on whether to have back surgery is going to be yours and yours alone. You can discuss the surgery with your doctor, but he or she can only make recommendations, not decide for you.