Written By: Allison Walsh
After months of conservative therapy, some spine patients may opt for spine surgery if their pain is uncontrolled or if they are unable to do their daily tasks, and if a surgeon can identify a spine lesion that is responsible for the pain.
The good news is that some spine conditions can be treated with a minimally invasive surgery, like a discectomy.
Reasons you may need a spinal fusion
First, let’s take a look at the types of conditions that may need to be treated with a fusion.
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A fusion surgery is designed to stop joint motions in the spine that are generating pain. This may happen as a result of:
For many patients, spinal fusion helps them get back on the road to leading a normal, pain-free life. But as stated above, the surgery is considered invasive and the recovery time can be up to a year long.
Many patients who need spine surgery will find relief from less invasive surgical procedures known as microdiscectomy or a microdecompression.
Reasons you may need a microdiscectomy or microdecompression surgery
Sometimes nerves in the spine are compressed by a narrowing of the spinal canal, causing referred pain to radiate down the arms or legs. This pain is called radiculopathy. The narrowing of the spinal canal may be caused by a bone spur or by a herniated disc.
A microdiscectomy or microdecompression spine surgery, considered a minimally invasive surgery, removes the small portion of the offending bone or disc, allowing the nerve to heal.
The majority of patients with only radiculopathy pain (in the absence of one of the conditions mentioned above as a reason for spine fusion) improve without fusion surgery.
Microdiscectomy is often done on an outpatient basis. Typically, the patient will have no restrictions on their activity immediately following the surgery, and the success rate is 90-95%.
Most back patients will never need surgery. If you do need spine surgery, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will need a spine fusion.
Further reading: Back Surgery and Neck Surgery Overview