Spine surgery is used to correct problems with the bones in your spine (vertebrae), disks or nerves of the lower back (lumbar spine).
Start with Conservative Treatment for Back and Neck Pain
Patients with spine pain in the neck or back are usually treated non-surgically before spine surgery is considered. Bed rest, traction, anti-inflammatory medications (nonsteroid and steroid), physical therapy, braces and exercise are often prescribed.
Maintaining good health, muscle strength, and body posture with appropriate rest and exercise help prevent unnecessary strain on the spine and muscles.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
You may be a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery depending on your condition. Your surgeon will make small incisions (less than 1 inch) and work around your muscles instead of cutting through them. This means a shorter recovery period, less pain and reduced risk for infection.
This is surgery to remove all or part of the cushion (disk) that helps protect your spinal column. Your doctor may recommend this surgery if you have a herniated disk and other noninvasive treatments have not helped. If you have leg pain or numbness, severe muscle weakness in your lower legs, or if the pain spreads from your buttocks to legs, you may need surgery. There are several ways to perform this surgery, and all procedures are performed in a hospital or outpatient setting, under general anesthesia. Learn more about diskectomies from our Health Library.
This surgery widens the opening in your back where nerve roots leave your spinal canal, which will relieve pressure on the nerve root. This spine surgery may be necessary if your symptoms include pain in your thighs, lower back, calf, shoulder, arms or hands, or if you experience any numbness or tingling. This procedure is performed in the hospital, under general anesthesia.
You will have an MRI to determine if this surgery is necessary.
Spine Fracture Surgery
This surgery repairs the broken bones (vertebrae) in your spine. These fractures may be caused by osteoporosis, trauma to the back or neck, or a tumor that has either started in or spread to your spine. Surgery may be required if the pain is severe or disabling and has lasted for more than two months, and has not gotten better with other treatments. Depending on the type of surgery, you will be placed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia, and you may need to wear a back brace for several weeks after.
This surgery repairs the abnormal and sometimes painful curving of the spine (scoliosis) by straightening the spine and aligning the shoulders and hips. It is usually performed on children and adolescents once the bones have stopped growing. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and the surgeon will use a variety of methods to straighten the back. Bone grafts may be used to hold the spine in the correct position. Recovery requires three to four days in the hospital, and a cast or brace may be required for some time. Learn more about scoliosis surgery from our Health Library.
This surgery removes bone spurs, or enlarged bone structures that have formed on your spine over a long period of time. If you have pain or numbness in one or both legs, weakness or heaviness in your buttocks or legs, or your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, you may need surgery. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and most patients go home after one to three days. Learn more about laminectomy surgery from our Health Library.
This surgery joins together two bones (vertebrae) in your spine, because the vertebrae may have moved out of alignment. There are many reasons why this surgery may be performed, and it may be done along with other procedures. For example, if you have a herniated disk, or an injury that resulted in a spine fracture, your surgeon may feel that spine fusion will ensure a better chance that your fracture won't be reinjured. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and requires a three to four day hospital stay. Learn more about spine fusion surgery from our Health Library.
Spine Tumor Treatment
A spine tumor is a growth of cells (mass) surrounding the spinal cord. Some spine tumors are malignant (cancerous), but others are not. Removing the tumor can relieve pressure on the spinal cord. Spine tumors that have spread to the spine from other areas (metastasis) are called secondary spine tumors.
As the tumor grows, it can affect blood vessels, vertebrae and nerve roots. It is important to start treatment as soon as the tumor is discovered. When radiation treatments or chemotherapy have not been as effective as hoped, your doctor may suggest removing the tumor surgically. Learn more about spine tumor surgery from our Health Library.
A spine vascular malformation is an abnormal connection between veins and arteries in your spine, creating a lesion. It is repaired or removed through open spine surgery (a long incision along the back is made and tissue and muscles are cut away). Each lesion is unique, so a treatment plan must be tailored to each patient. There are several different surgical treatments, and your doctor will discuss your options with you and explain which surgery will work best for your situation.