When is Surgery Ideal for Back Pain?
You have probably experienced back pain at some point in life and are hardly alone. Persistent back pain that won’t go away is the most common type of chronic pain in America. You can usually ease back pain without going under the knife; ice, heat, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and spinal injections can help. However, chronic pain treatment is complex and can do more harm than good if not provided by a doctor trained in pain management. Fortunately, Hyattsville anesthesiology specializes in managing chronic pain and offers various treatment options for chronic back pain. Your pain medicine specialist may recommend surgery if:
You have pain radiating to your arms or legs
Your spinal cord and nerve roots run through the center of vertebrae – a series of bones that stack up to make the spine. These nerves can become pinched or compressed, causing radiculopathy or pain that radiates to your arms or legs. Radiculopathy is commonly associated with herniated discs and bone spurs. When a spinal disc herniates, the soft inner layer (nucleus) pushes through the outer membrane (annulus) and presses on nearby nerves. Depending on where the herniation occurs along your spine, you may experience pain in your back or neck, which may radiate in your arms or legs. Surgery is effective because it relieves the pressure on the nerves, eliminating radiating pain. Therefore, you may want to see a spine surgeon if you have chronic pain that radiates.
Your pain is constant.
If back pain has become part of your daily life, it is important to realize that you realize that it is a condition that you shouldn’t have to live with. Most of the time, back pain is acute, lasting anywhere from a few days to less than three months without lingering symptoms or loss of function. However, chronic pain lasts for at least 12 weeks and longer, even after trying out treatment options such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, steroid shots, and lifestyle changes. If you don’t experience significant pain reduction with these treatments, you will need to see your specialist to discuss surgical options that might alleviate your pain.
You have progressing spinal deformity.
If your spine is abnormally curved and the curve is progressing, your doctor may recommend surgery. Scoliosis is the most common spinal deformity in adults, which often results from degenerative back changes due to age or previous surgeries. Usually, scoliosis starts as a minor curve, but over time, it can progress and eventually compress organs like the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. If you are undergoing scoliosis treatment, but your symptoms worsen, you may discuss surgery with your spine specialist.
You have limited mobility.
Constant back pain reduces overall productivity and limits your ability to engage in various activities, including sports or taking hikes. You might also not be effective at your job, especially if it is physically demanding. If your life has taken a different turn because of chronic pain, it is time to discuss surgery with your physician. Surgery can alleviate your pain, improve your mobility and help you take control of your life.
Back surgery is not for everyone, but it is worth considering if your pin has not improved with other treatments.
If you have persistent back pain, call CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center and schedule a session with your specialist to determine if back surgery is the appropriate treatment for your back pain.