After trying just about everything in their toolboxes, the spinal physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) may have to resort to surgery to repair, treat or relieve back pain. It’s usually highly unlikely that you need surgery because of the many options on tap at SSI to treat your back pain.
Before surgery, very often you’ll undergo other treatments to relieve back pain, including:
- Extensive tests that include imaging tests, bloodwork and range of motion tests
- Physical therapy
- Non-invasive techniques ranging from injections and nerve blocks to stem cell therapy
- Pain management therapy
- Lifestyle changes
Chronic Pain Source
Chronic pain typically is described as pain that lasts longer than six months. If you’ve been trying every non-surgical avenue to relieve back pain that has been going on for even longer, you’re most likely ready to hear about surgical options.
Initially, your spine physician performs tests to find the primary cause of your long-lasting pain. Very often, it’s identifiable and easier to target. Identifiable chronic back pain may come from a number of conditions, including:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
Unidentifiable chronic back pain is more challenging. In many cases, it’s caused by nerve pain that leads to nerves misfiring in your back. Neuropathic pain, also called nerve pain, that can’t be directly linked to a disease or injury usually doesn’t respond well to surgery. Fibromyalgia is an example of a condition that can lead to unidentifiable chronic back pain.
Best Candidates for Back Surgery
Nearly 500,000 people undergo back surgery each year in the United States. Many find that it’s the ideal option to relieve back pain, while others are not always so successful. There are no guarantees, but when you’re under the care of a seasoned surgeon at SSI and are deemed a good candidate, your chances at success increase exponentially.
You may not be an ideal candidate for surgery to relieve back pain, however, if you:
- Are overweight
- Have other chronic conditions such as arthritis or heart disease
- Are elderly
- Eat a poor diet
Conditions that do respond well to surgery to relieve back pain include:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal tumors
Relieve Back Pain Now
Once the cause is determined and your spinal surgeon is confident you are a good candidate for a successful procedure, you need to prepare. You’ll receive detailed instructions about what to eat and drink before surgery. You may have to stop taking certain medications and vitamins. And you must arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
Talk with the anesthesiologist before the surgery to clarify what type of medication you’ll be given and what side effects you can expect from it. Expect some pain after surgery, for which you‘ll have a prescription for pain medication that needs to be filled before the surgery.
Recovery and Risks
All surgery has its risks, and procedures to relieve back pain are no different. Because you rely on the experienced team at SSI that focuses only on conditions that affect the back, your risks are greatly reduced. And though rare, there are risks inherent in back surgery that could include:
- Continued pain after you recover
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage
- Excessive bleeding
Additionally, you improve your chances of a complete recovery when you follow the post-operative instructions to the letter. And that includes intensive physical therapy that may cause you some discomfort. You and your SSI team must work together to get you pain-free as quickly as possible.