Benefits Of Surgery
Spine surgery is not an easy matter. Though the techniques and technology have advanced to the point where it has become an outpatient procedure with less invasive methods and easy recovery, there are still some risks to it. There has also been some criticism about needless spinal surgery. In the period from 1997 to 2005, the money spent on back problems has increased 73% (taking into consideration that the cost of spine surgery is decreasing this also takes into account an increase in surgical procedures); patients reporting back pain have increased.
Most people suffering from back pain resort to self-care first. They often hope that the pain would not worsen, meaning it’s just a simple case of overstrained muscles. Some simple ways to manage pain include using cold and hot compresses to relax tense muscles and increase blood circulation.
Others try bed rest, but this can actually make back pain worse with muscles getting weaker (providing less support to the spine) and bringing on depression. One of the best self-care options is some mild exercise, since it strengthens the back and abdominal muscles that support the spine. However, it is advisable to discuss with your doctor if the pain gets worse or shows no improvement after some routines.
There is also medication you can try. What works for you could be a combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It is important to consult a doctor to make sure that the cocktail of medicine you’re taking will not cause bad reactions when taken together.
Analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs without steroids are available over the counter. This includes ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. You can take these to minimize the swelling, inflammation and stiffness caused by spinal problems. There are also topical treatments like sprays or creams that help with circulation and inflammation.
Anticonvulsants that are typically used for seizures can also be useful for nerve pain. Some antidepressants also help block pain signals from the brain and improve your mood. This includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that relieve pain. Opiods can be prescribed to offer relief from severe back pain, however these have several risky side effects. Medication like oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine can be the last resort in pain management but these can lead to long-term problems like addiction.
Other Non-surgical Treatment Options
Specialists or chiropractors can perform spinal manipulation to improve the position of the spine using exercises and leverage. Acupuncture is onealternative treatment that uses thin needles inserted in certain points to release painkilling molecules naturally produced by the body.
Biofeedback is another way to treat headaches and back pain. It involves the use of an electronic machine that trains you to notice, be aware of, and control your body’s functions. It trains you to respond differently to pain.
Interventional therapy helps treat chronic pain by stopping signals between the body and the brain. This involves the use of steroids, narcotics, and local anesthetics on nerve roots, joints, soft tissues, or nerve blocks. This procedure may also be done to stimulate the spinal cord. In cases of extreme pain, a catheter may be used to directly deliver drugs to the spinal cord.
Weights can also be used to adjust your skeleton’s adjustment by increments. A battery-powered device can also be used to provide transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This means sending mild electric pulses through nerve fibers to block pain signals. The doctor would first determine where the nerves that generate pain impulses. They would then place small electrodes on the area to treat it. Ultrasound can also be used to relax the muscles. The sound waves enter the skin and get through to warm the injured muscles and soft tissues.
While non-surgical treatments are less invasive and risky, if left untreated the situation could get worse. As a last resort, surgery can be safe and effective, provided it is done with the proper guidance of your primary physician.
What to Expect with Spine Surgery
The procedures involved in the surgery depend on the kind of operation you need. But here are some generic things you can expect.
First of all, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon. They will go over the procedure with you and give you instructions on how to prepare before the operation and for the recovery period.
In the past, spinal surgery always involves open surgery. This means cutting open the back to get at the spine. This would involve a large incision so that the doctor has more space to work with.
Now, an endoscope is used to get to the area to be treated. The endoscope has a tiny camera that transmits images of the area to a TV in the operating room. Additional small incisions are then made to insert instruments and make the necessary procedures inside. The incisions are then sutured and treated with surgical tape.
You can go home in a few days or weeks. After a couple of months, you can go back to your regular activities. Tiny scars are barely noticeable and you will suffer less pain during recovery. On top of that, modern procedures are less expensive and may involve more anesthesia options.
However, any operation has risks. This includes internal bleeding, complications, side effects to medication, and even death. This is why it is important to go to specialists to get the best care possible.