A regular question which is raised is about back surgery, the ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ debate. Having ‘non-emergency’ back surgery isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should always weigh up the situation carefully. There are many things to consider, and although you may be fed up to the back teeth with the pain, are you sure you’ve tried everything?
- Whilst back surgery can relieve your pain, no Consultant/ Surgeon can guarantee that it will work. For some people it works beautifully, others will have a little change in their symptoms, and sadly others who experience even more pain after surgery. While surgery can successfully relieve the pain, these procedures can be extremely invasive and the results are not always permanent. When the pain returns, the procedure may need to be repeated.
- Some spinal surgery can involve a lot of’ bone work’, if this is the case there will likely be more pain for a while and a long recovery time. Inflammation can develop as a result of surgery, inflammation leads to scarring and pain. This is because as your body heals, scar tissue can build up, so much so that it may begin to touch on a nerve and cause the same amount of pain that you had when the disc (when it was applying pressure to your nerve)
- Quite often the long-term prognosis after spinal surgery is no better than that when less invasive treatments are used. A spinal fusion can put a stop to the ‘movement’ of the spine which causes your pain, however this can lead to a less flexible spine..
Please don’t think I’m trying to put you off, remember, I’ve had mine done and its much better but I’m playing ‘devil’s advocate’ here!! There are a lot of cases that make back surgery completely appropriate:
- When the symptoms become disabling to you to the point where you are unable to perform your normal daily activities surgery may be appropriate.
- If the disc causes severe nerve damage you can suffer with ‘foot drop’ or bladder/ bowel dysfunction. The later is particularly important and you must seek GP attention immediately if you are being affected in this way. In some of these cases surgery may need to be done on an emergency basis.
- Back surgery should always be considered the last resort after the mainstream treatments have been exhausted with no relief. Normally, the majority of back pain will heal with less aggressive, non-surgical treatments or with time.
- Removal of a herniated disc may well help your pain, however, it is not helping treat the cause. Herniated discs are a very common result of muscle imbalance and postural problems that are causing the back to become weak. If these issues are left untreated, it is possible that after having a herniation repaired, the spine can continue to degenerate and in time the pain will come again.