According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is a common complaint for people across ages and professions, and it isn’t predicted to let up any time soon. Back pain can be annoying, intense, and can get in the way of a person performing their job, or even simple tasks that make up the course of a day.
In some cases, orthopaedic physicians treat back pain with spine surgery. Surgery is only performed when non-surgical, or conservative, methods prove to be ineffective. Conservative methods can include physical therapy and medication. Spine surgery is also only performed if the source of a patient’s back pain--like a herniated disk or compressed nerve--can be pinpointed. Physicians do not perform spine surgery to look for problems. There are several common spine problems that can be treated with surgery, and we’ll go over them all here. (Spine-Health)
Several common conditions can be treated with spine surgery. In almost all cases, surgery is performed to treat pain that results from a compressed nerve--a nerve whose roots are pinched or irritated. Conditions associated with compressed nerves in the spine include:
Sciatica - a lay term referring to a compressed sciatic nerve. This results in pain in the lower back, and sometimes pain down the thighs and into the foot. Physicians call this Radiculopathy.
Herniated Disk - disks are rubbery cushions that separate the bones of the spine. Sometimes, these disks rupture or bulge (become herniated) and press against spinal nerves.
Bone Overgrowth - a bone spur is a smooth growth that can develop on a normal bone, often in response to friction. As bone spurs grow, they can push into tissue and nerves, resulting in pain.
Types of Surgery
- Decompression - Decompression is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat bone spurs. Types of decompression surgery include:
- Facet thermal ablation, which deadens a nerve ending.
- Foraminotomy, which removes the bone spur growth, leaving only normal bone.
- Laminotomy, which creates space between spinal bones if bone spurs have made vertebrae bigger than they should be.
- Fusion- is a procedure that fuses two or more spinal bones together. This can be performed after a fracture, or if cushioning disks between vertebrae have worn away.
- Diskectomy - is the removal of a disk that has become herniated. This relieves pressure on nerves the herniated disk might be pressing on. A diskectomy also includes removing part of or all of the back portion of spinal bones in front of the herniated disk, so that physicians can access the disk.
- Artificial Disk - if a cushioning disk has become herniated, physicians can replace it with an artificial one. This procedure is relatively new, and is sometimes used as an alternative to fusion.
If you are experiencing back pain that won’t let up, contact an orthopaedic physician. MidAmerica’s Dr. George E. Charuk and Dr. Gurpal Pannu are specialists who can help you determine a treatment plan for your back pain. Depending on your condition, treatment might start with medication and physical therapy--we offer physical therapy at both our Palos Hills and Mokena locations. MidAmerica also specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, give us a call at (708) 237-7200. MidAmerica Orthopaedics serves various areas such as Chicago, Palos Hills, Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Burbank and more.