Your back has been hurting for what seems like forever, and you’ve tried pretty much everything, from stretching and yoga to hours with the heating pad to anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen to visiting a chiropractor, all with limited success. You may have even received some physical therapy and still not seen sufficient relief. So you may be thinking, “When do I need back surgery?”
The answer is, it depends. “Of the patients that I see for back pain, 9 out of 10 do NOT need back surgery,” according to Dr. Mark Valente. But how do you know if you are the 1 out of 10 that do?
Unrelenting Back Pain
“Most back pain resolves on its own within two months,” said the Mayo Clinic. If you’re well beyond that time frame and are still suffering, it’s time to see a doctor—if you haven’t already done so—or have a more serious conversation about your surgical options for back pain options if you’re already under a doctor’s care. “Back surgery might be an option if conservative treatments haven’t worked and your pain is persistent and disabling,” they said.
Progressive Back Pain
If your pain is not subsiding and is actually getting worse, a trip to the doctor is in order. Pay special attention to increasing weakness in your extremities or extreme back pain that comes on suddenly, which could indicate an issue that needs immediate treatment or has the potential for a surgical response.
When to Have Back Surgery for Herniated Discs
Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or tingling in your legs can be indicative of nerve issues related to a back injury, and may or may not require surgery. A doctor will conduct tests to pinpoint the problem and outline potential treatment options to treat your back pain.
Bladder or Bowel Issues
If you have back pain with bladder or constipation issues, it can be a sign of spinal stenosis and may lead to a serious emergency. You’ll want to see your doctor immediately to see if you need back surgery to treat your condition.
Worsening Degenerative Conditions
Back pain caused by degenerative conditions like scoliosis may be alleviated with back surgery. “Today’s surgical techniques can do wonderful things to reduce back pain caused by progressive degenerative conditions,” said Providence Health Plans. “When —and whether—you should consider back surgery depends on your diagnosis and the progression of your back problem.”
When It’s Time to Have Back Surgery
If you’re thinking about minimally invasive spine surgery to alleviate back pain, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask your doctor. At the top of the list, “Am I a candidate for minimally invasive back surgery?” The minimally invasive approach can cut back greatly on:
- The length of the operation
- The size of the incision
- The time spent in the hospital
- The time spent recovering
Many minimally invasive surgical procedures can be done on an outpatient basis with complete recovery in a matter of weeks, as opposed to traditional back surgery, which could take up to a year for recovery, cost thousands more, require a long hospital stay, and leave you with a long incision across your back and extensive scar tissue, and the possibility of recurring pain and injury.
Are you curious about the most effective back procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain? For more information, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive back surgery.