If you have been injured or experiencing pain in your low back, surgery may be necessary to resolve your persistent pain. But how do you determine if low back surgery is appropriate for you? How can you tell if your pain or injury is serious enough for surgery? These questions come up for a lot of people. In fact, about 80% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their life. While you want relief, fears about surgery are likely holding you back. There are a lot of factors, from cost of surgery, to fears about pain and healing, to worrying whether it’s necessary in your case. Even as surgeons, we avoid promoting surgery unless you need it because we want to lead patients in the best direction for their own health.
While this post is not intended to give you any definite answers, it may serve as a loose guide for choosing your treatment direction.
Injuries or Conditions of the Low Back
In order to be considered a candidate for surgery, we have identified three categories of injuries/conditions that afflict our patients. The categories include:
1) Patients with Disc Injuries
The spine is made up of small bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. Ligaments, muscles, and intervertebral discs sit in between these bones. If you have an injury to a lumbar disc, it may be serious. For example, a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc, could mean that the disc is pushing out against the spinal nerves causing pressure and pain. Over time, this can become extremely painful and may stop you from enjoying daily activities. A candidate for surgery is likely in severe or chronic pain. They may have tried other treatments that were unsuccessful.
2) Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition in which the space around the spinal cord narrows. Spinal stenosis can occur in different parts of the spine, including the lumbar spine, or low back. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Again, this can be very painful. Symptoms include leg pain, especially during activities like walking. There can also be tingling or weakness in the buttocks or back of the legs. If rest or medication has not been effective for your lumbar spinal stenosis, you may be a candidate for surgery.
3) Patients with other common causes of low back pain
Other common causes of low back pain include scoliosis, infections, and degeneration. With any case of low back pain, if it is not manageable or the pain is excruciating, we recommend that you look into surgery. If a person misses work or misses out on other daily activities due to low back pain, it may be time to visit a doctor for treatment.
What to Expect at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic
If you feel that you may be a candidate for low back surgery, visit our surgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic. We will evaluate and determine the cause of your low back pain using a few of our accurate tests. If deemed necessary, we will discuss your surgical options. To learn more about our surgical procedures or what to expect, contact our Raleigh, NC office.