Unless the condition requires a surgical emergency, surgery for back pain should only be considered as a last recourse in finding a cure for back pain. It should be resorted to only when the condition does not respond favorably to other therapies. It is usually the physician who recommends this option to patients who are suffering from considerable pain despite numerous attempts to treat by non-surgical means. Sometimes, there are cases of back pain where the only treatment that can provide relief is by surgery.
One of the few instances where surgery for back pain may be considered as the first treatment option is when there is confirmation that the pain is caused by herniated disc pinching on a nerve. Treating the back pain usually requires surgical decompression of the affected nerve. Relief from back pain could be expected after the surgical procedure.
Other conditions that warrant surgery for back pain include trauma where the spine is fractured or is dislocated. In these cases, immediate surgery is required to repair and restore the spine in its natural position. Another likelihood of surgical necessity is the case of painful spondylolisthesis or where one vertebra is displaced by slipping forward on the one below it. And, the last justifiable reason for surgery for back pain is when the compressed or unstable nerve results in neurologic deficit or some failure in the proper functioning of the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and nerves.
The existence of any of the conditions cited above is not the sole determinant if a person must undergo surgery for back pain. Statistically, less than one percent of back pain sufferers really require surgery. The main factor considered before deciding in favor of the surgical option is whether the pain is so severe it prevents a person from going about his daily routine or enjoying life in general. The other issue that needs resolution is if the person’s condition is bound to worsen if surgery is not performed.
Most medical experts on back pain are of the same opinion that there were just too many surgeries for back pain done in the past that did not yield the expected positive outcome of helping the patients. Instead, those surgeries only exacerbated the problem. These same experts concur on the need for properly selecting the surgical candidates. They recommend qualification to be based on the suitability of an individual for the procedure and on who stands to receive the most benefit from surgery for back pain.
Surgery for back pain is usually of three different types:
- surgery for disc problems;
- surgery to stabilize the spine; and
- surgery to create more space in the spine.
As your doctor evaluates your condition and presents your options, he will also recommend the most appropriate form of surgery for your back pain condition if you really need to have one.