Spine Surgery FAQ
Where Does Back Pain Come From?
Back pain is by far one of the most common injuries associated to spinal damage and overall wear and tear. In fact, approximately 80% of all adults have or will at some point develop some type of back pain at some point in life. And of those, 1 in every 5 cases is considered to be chronic or lead to recurring episodes. Back pain is commonly associated with wear and tear conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, facet joint arthritis, and much more. In many cases, these degenerative conditions can become aggravated by other short-term issues such as muscle strains, tears, and even poor posture.
Where Does Neck Pain Come From?
Neck pain is also one of the most common issues amongst individuals involving the spine, the cervical or upper spine to be more specific. This type of neck pain can be divided into 3 specific categories, mechanical pain – coming from the joint and/or discs, radicular pain – as a result of nerve compression, myelopathic – from compression of the spinal cord. As we begin to age past our mid-to-late 20’s, into our 30’s, our vertebral bones and spinal discs will experience wear and tear. As these parts of the spinal area begin to degenerate and breakdown, mechanical pain will develop, for instance a condition such as degenerative disc disease, the most common cause for neck pain. Radicular pain is similarly a sharp, radiating pain that moved from the upper shoulders into the neck, as a result of damaged discs or vertebrae compressing nerves that lead to feeling in and around the neck. When that compression makes it to the spinal cord, it can lead to radiating pain from the arms and legs, and cause other issues including – loss of balance, coordination issues, bowel & bladder control issues.
What Non-Surgical Options are Available for Spine Treatment?
There are a number of different options when it comes to the treatment of spinal issues – depending on the specific type of issue you might be suffering from. Some of the most common non-surgical treatment options include:
- Physical Therapy
- Medication – Pain relievers (prescription & OTC), oral anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and steroid injections.
- Back and Neck Braces
When Do I Need Spinal Surgery?
Spinal surgery becomes a necessity when patients begin to feel severe, progressive, debilitating pain that may leave them with feelings of numbness, burning, tingling, or muscle weakness. Certain common issues specially require specific types of surgery, including spinal compression issues, disc damage, and more. Spinal surgery should also be considered to be the last resort for treatment, considering the delicate nature of the spine and the possibility for side effects and complications to occur.
What Does the Term “Minimally-Invasive” Surgery Mean?
In the modern age of healthcare, the term “minimally-invasive” is often thrown around, but many patients are often confused as to what it means, especially when referring to spine surgery. Especially when it comes to surgical procedures, the term minimally-invasive refers to the use of smaller incisions, that are overall safer, more effective, and less painful than the use of previous methods which utilize larger incisions.
What is Spinal Fusion? When is it Necessary?
Spinal fusion is a common form of spinal surgery in cases where there is significant damage to the spine or a complex disc disease. Decisions regarding the use of spinal fusion are highly dependent on the type of injury or condition, the shape of the spine, and the specific symptoms of the patient. Spinal fusion is done in order to stabilize the vertebrae in the spine by creating a solid bridge of bone tissue, fusing many vertebrae together.
To bridge the different vertebrae involved in the fusion, we must use an intervertebral implant that can be made of metal, plastic or even bone material. Spinal fusion surgery becomes necessary when there is any instability, deformity, or misalignment of the spine. Generally, Dr. Arutyunyan and most spine surgeons, will not perform spinal fusions on children or younger patients. As a result of vertebral fusion, a patient’s growth cycle will be stopped, preventing children from reaching their potential adult height or size.