Monday, July 2, 2012

Back Surgery: Types, Recovery, Risks, and Benefits

Back surgery can be a tough call on the patient and the surgeon.  Normally, it is only done if indicated with a rupture, fracture, etc.  It's a tough call because it can cause loss of bladder control, nerve damage, etc.  But, going without it when you have a rupture can cause extensive nerve damage.  If you have one in your cervical region, it can cause nerve damage in the arms.  If you have one in the lumbar region it can cause nerve damage in the legs.  However, a buldging disc can get better without surgery.  A lot of rest and no heavy lifting, along with steriods for the inflammation and ice.  A fusion can take place on it's own after surgery if you rest.  However, if you need one cervically, they normally use a bone graft.  This can come from a donor body or you can use your own, they take a piece of you hip bone and put it where they removed the disc to make it fuse.  You will then go back for a scan a couple weeks later to make sure it did fuse.  There are risks with this though, it can cause the inability to swallow, etc.  There are pros and cons to using your own bone graft, you can have problems with your leg and hip after the fact but, you don't run the risk of the graft not taking as you would with a donor bone.  Stay Informed!    Back Surgery: Types, Recovery, Risks, and Benefits

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Christine. The key distinction, as you pointed out, is the presence of nerve damage or instability. These patients need evaluation by neurosurgery or ortho. As opposed to patients with chronic mechanical back pain, where surgery may actually be inferior to conservative measures. A Swedish study in 2003 compared surgery to chronic pain management plus cognitive behavioral therapy and physical therapy. Pain scores were equal in both groups but the conservative group was more cost effective and had fewer complications.

    Great post.

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