Countless days in the hospital. Months upon months of recovery. Sick time used up (and vacation days, too). Having to be endlessly waited on and cared for instead of being able to be self-sufficient. Not to mention all that time out of commission and not able to be present for family or friends. And that’s not even touching on the ongoing pain or the need for medication for an extended period of time.
That’s what back surgery used to be like.
Today, minimally invasive surgery has changed the game for thousands suffering with chronic back pain. Advancements in procedures and techniques, with leading spinal surgeons continuing to revolutionize the practice, means back surgery isn’t what it used to be. So how are today’s surgeries different than what previous generations had to endure?
Shorter Hospital Stay
Before minimally invasive techniques for back surgery became popular, a hospital stay for back surgery felt interminable. With minimally invasive surgery, you can forget about spending days or even weeks in the hospital recuperating. In some cases, a minimally invasive back procedure requires no hospitalization at all; outpatient treatments for back pain mean you can go home the same day.
A Shorter Operation
Less time under anesthesia can minimize the risks associated with any surgical procedure and lower infection rates. The shorter surgery involved in minimally invasive procedures, along with limited blood loss, is also easier on your body, which can make the recovery easier and promote faster healing without the need for prolonged pain medication.
A Smaller Incision
You won’t be able to show off a scar that stretches across your back, so if that’s something you’re looking for, minimally invasive surgery is not for you. A minimally invasive procedure requires only a small area within which to work, with no cutting of back muscles, tendons or ligaments, so incisions can be as little as 3mm.
A Faster Healing Time
Those who have had back surgery in the past may have had to set aside a full year to recuperate completely. Today’s minimally invasive procedures minimize tissue and muscle damage, which can mean reduce recovery time from back surgery to as little as six weeks.
Some procedures, like spinal fusion surgery, can take as little as 30 minutes and have the patient up and walking within hours. In some cases, post-surgical patients who have had a minimally invasive procedure walk right out of the doctor’s office within a few hours.
“The primary reason for most back surgeries is to get relief from back pain,” said WebMD, but many people suffer through the pain for a long time because they’re afraid of the procedure or an extended recovery time. Minimally invasive procedures help eliminate those fears, replacing them with the potential for:
- “Increased activity
- Better physical fitness
- Improved mood
- Less need for pain medicines with fewer drug side effects
- Ability to go back to work
- Increased productivity at work”
The quick recovery time associated with minimally invasive procedures means patients can get back to living faster. Not only is the procedure inherently less painful because it is shorter, requires a smaller incision, and impacts less of the body during the procedure, the follow-up care is less involved and the recovery period far shorter—all contributing factors for a minimized pain level. There is also a lower recurrence of back issues with minimally invasive surgery.
For more information about maintaining a healthy back, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.
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