When you’ve been living with chronic back pain, you can get to the point where you just want it to go away, no matter what it takes. If you’ve already tried stretching and yoga and over-the-counter pain killers, and maybe even massage therapy, it may be time to consider surgery.
Many people think that means a painful, complicated procedure and a long time in bed healing, but minimally invasive surgery has changed all that. Minimally invasive back procedures can get rid of your back pain for good, with less discomfort, possibility of complications, and recovery time than you have imagined. Here are 4 things you may not know.
1. Shorter operation, smaller incision
Traditional “open” surgery is a long and involved process that can take hours, requiring a long incision to provide a view into the anatomy and an extended period under anesthesia. Minimally invasive back surgery is a different story.
“In these procedures, doctors use specialized instruments to access the spine through small incisions,” said the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Incisions can be as small as 3mm, and because of the less-complicated nature of the surgery, they are generally shorter in duration as well.
2. Procedures can be done on an outpatient basis
With open surgery, you could be in the hospital for up to a week. Have a minimally invasive back procedure, and you cut that hospital stay dramatically.
“Minimally invasive procedures can shorten hospital stays,” said the AAOS. “The exact length of time needed in the hospital will vary with each patient and individual procedure, but generally…patients go home in 2 to 3 days.”
In some cases, a hospital stay won’t be necessary at all. “Minimally Invasive surgical techniques are often performed on an outpatient basis,” said DISC Spine Institute, with patients going home the same day.”
3. A small percentage are minimally invasive skilled and trained
Back surgery has changed completely over the past decade, with advances in minimally invasive techniques revolutionizing the way procedures are done. But most spine surgeons have not been trained to do anything but traditional surgeries. If you’re ready to get rid of back pain and are considering surgery, make sure your surgeon is skilled in the newest techniques and procedures. Only 10 percent of today’s spine surgeons can say they have the experience and technical skill to perform procedures like endoscopic microdiscectomy, minimally invasive endoscopic lumbar fusions (MIS TLIF) and direct lateral minimally invasive anterior fusions (XLIF).
4. Procedures are easier on the body and require less healing time
The shorter surgical time involved with a minimally invasive surgery creates less stress on the body. But there are many other factors that combine to create an easier procedure and recovery:
- No cutting of back muscles, tendons or ligaments— “In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a faster recovery” said the AAOS.
- Less blood loss during surgery—1/10th of traditional surgery, which means no blood transfusions
- Less anesthesia time, which means lower infection rates
- Less tissue and muscle damage, and scar formation—this translates to a quicker post-operative recovery and return to your “normal” life
- Lower incident of adjacent segment degeneration—a “breakdown of the discs, vertebrae, joints and nerves” that can happen after a traditional back surgery, said DISC Spine Institute.
For more information about maintaining a healthy back, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive spine surgery, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.
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