Top 3 Most Common Back Procedures
Researching the cause of your lower back pain can feel like an impossible task. With the spine’s many small parts come many types of back pain. While various back pain procedures exist, the majority of them are for niche issues. Only a small percentage of patients, for example, will ever need back surgery to address a benign spinal tumor. To best understand why you are feeling back pain, it can help to arrange the procedures into three standard categories.
You most likely already know about the vertebrae, which are the bones that build your spine. What most science classes don’t focus on are the discs between the vertebrae, even though these discs are just as important in the spine’s functionality. Discs are materials that help absorb the “jolts” in your spine. Jolts can be anything as benign as putting your foot on the ground when you are walking, to something as severe as a car crash. As most people get older, these discs start to deteriorate, bulge, or herniate. A damaged disc often starts pressing on a nerve root in or near your spine, and it is this pressure that can cause chronic back pain. The goal of a discectomy is to treat one or more discs in your spine that may be causing this pressure, often by replacing the problematic discs.
The spinal canal is a cavity that runs through each of your vertebrae and holds the spinal cord. When you get older, your spinal canal may become more narrow, which is often due to the back part of a bone – called the lamina – growing more than it should. Much like with a damaged disc, an overgrown bone can start pressing on surrounding nerve roots and cause back pain. A laminectomy aims to remove parts of the lamina, expanding the spinal canal and relieving pressure.
3. Spinal Fusion
If back pain is not due to a damaged disc or narrowed spinal canal, then the issue is usually from unstable vertebrae. As the title implies, a spinal fusion aims to “fuse” two or more vertebrae together and stabilize the spine. The process often involves some metallic implants like rods, screws, wires, and plates for immediate stability. Traditional spinal fusion used to be one of the most common back procedures. With the introduction of minimally invasive spine surgery, more surgeons recommend minimally invasive procedures as they often lead to faster recovery times and quicker back pain relief.
Marc Cohen is a New Jersey spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive procedures. For a consultation on how to best treat your back pain – whether it is through surgery or conservative methods – contact one of our offices today to schedule an appointment.