What are the common spinal conditions that cause low back pain?
Low back pain is a common symptom of most spinal conditions. Almost everyone will experience at least one episode of low back pain in their lifetimes. Common spinal conditions that can cause low back pain include muscle strain or spasm, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, scoliosis, kyphosis, and fracture of the spine caused by osteoporosis. Low back pain in the absence of leg pain only rarely requires spinal surgery, except in cases of trauma, tumor, deformity, or infection.
What is degenerative disc disease?
This is a condition where the intervertebral discs, the gel-like material between the vertebrae, has begun to wear out due to aging, repetitive stress, smoking, genetics, etc. In most circumstances the cause is multi-factorial, and unless there is compression of the nerves or spinal cord, it will not improve with surgery. It is a very common condition that may not cause symptoms in many people.
What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is also called a bulging disc, ruptured disc, or slipped disc. It occurs when the inner core of the spinal disc pushes out through the outer layer of the disc. This can cause pressure on nearby nerves leading to low back and leg pain, or neck and arm pain depending on where the bulging disc is located.
What types of conditions warrant surgery?
Most patients who experience neck or back pain will not require surgery and will improve with conservative management. Pain that radiates down the arms or legs, and neurological signs such as weakness, numbness, balance difficulty, bowel/bladder problems, are some symptoms that may benefit from surgical decompression. Progressive spinal deformities may require spinal fusion to stabilize the abnormal curvature and stop it from getting worse.
How do I know if I am a candidate for spine surgery?
The majority of degenerative conditions that may require or benefit from spinal surgery are those where there is pain that radiates down the arms or legs, have associated numbness or weakness, and have not improved with non-operative care. Spine surgery is considered as a last resort as many patients improve with more conservative treatments first. Your primary care physician should begin treatment with these modalities, and if things do not improve it is time to consult with a spine surgeon.
What are the advantages of minimally invasive surgery? Can spinal surgeries be done using minimally invasive method?
Minimally invasive surgery is a technique where surgeries can be performed through small incisions with the use of specialized tools and equipment. Some of the advantages of minimally invasive surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Shorter stay in the hospital
- Less post-operative pain
- Short recovery period
- Less damage to muscles and soft tissues
- Minimal blood loss during surgery
- Less risk of infection because of smaller cuts
Certain spinal pathologies may be addressed using minimally invasive techniques. Choosing the right surgical solution for any particular spinal problem requires a detailed discussion between the patient and the surgeon.
Will physical therapy be required after surgery?
Most patients do not require formal physical therapy after surgery. Dr. Nemani will devise a customized rehabilitation program for each of his patients after surgery based on their particular problem and the surgery they had performed.
What are the post-operative precautions I need to practice following a spine surgery?
After the surgery, your spine surgeon may recommend you practice several measures to ensure the best recovery and avoid possible complications. Some of them include:
- No bending, lifting or twisting for at least three months following fusion surgery
- Limiting your activities
- Incision care – Keep the incisions clean and dry
- Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding the medications to be taken
How do I schedule an appointment?
What should I bring with me when I come for an appointment?
When you come for your appointment, please remember to bring the following
- Driver’s License or a valid ID
- Insurance information
- Referral Letter (if required)
- Operative Reports, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans (Imaging reports as well as the images on a disc) etc. and any other relevant information
- List of medications (if any)