How to Know When You Might Need Spine Surgery

Spinal pain can be a serious issue if not attended to immediately. It can occur in the lower back region or the neck region. Back pain causes a lot of distractions in one’s daily activities and has also made some lose their jobs. The pain can be so severe that you wish you could do anything to cure it once and for all. Interestingly, in some cases, you don’t have to do anything special; it just goes on its own. 

Most people living with spinal pain believe having spine surgery is the only way out for them. This belief is wrong as there are lots of alternatives to surgery. These alternatives differ depending on the individual and the causes of the spinal pain. Spine Surgery becomes an option only when other alternatives don’t work, which is determined only by your doctor.

Causes of Spinal Pain

Sometimes, the Doctor cannot exactly tell the cause of spinal pain through an imaging study or a test, but some conditions have been associated with back pain. Some of these conditions are: 

  • Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the space around the spinal canal narrows due to arthritis. When this happens, it affects the lower back, pressurizes the spinal cord, and causes pain.

  • Porous or brittle bones

When the bones are too fragile, the vertebrae become weak and tend to collapse. This condition is known as osteoporosis, and one of its symptoms is back pain.

  • Ligament or muscle tear

When the fibrous tissues connecting one bone to the other are overstretched in the wrong direction, it often leads to ligament tear, another cause of back pain. Likewise, when the tendons connecting muscles to bones become overstretched, back pain.

Non-surgical Spinal Pain Treatments

As mentioned earlier, there are several ways to treat spinal pains. The best treatment for you should depend on your doctor’s prescription. You can visit a Neurologist in Newport Beach to suggest non-surgical treatments for you. A neurologist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating spine and brain-related issues. Some of the non-surgical treatments are stated below:

  • Meditation

Due to the emotional and physical stress that comes with chronic back pain, your doctor may suggest you see a psychologist. The psychologist often suggests yoga, meditation, and other strategies to keep you relaxed. This treatment helps you overcome frustration, depression, and other psychological effects of back pain. 

  • Physical exercise

Exercising is one of the most effective back pain treatments. You can consult your physical therapist for recommendations on the best exercises for you, as exercises differ from one individual to the other. However, your consistency in the exercises greatly determines the results.

  • Injections

Injections become an option only if the cause of the pain is known. Injection-based procedures such as nerve ablation, epidural steroid injections, and nerve blocks are sometimes used to treat chronic back pain. Care must be taken when taking injections, and this is because they don’t offer long-term solutions.

  • Opioids

Opioids are pharmacological ways of treating back pain. It involves the use of muscle relaxants, analgesics, or anti-inflammatory drugs. Like injections, opioids are not meant to serve as a long-term treatment for back pain. Patients get addicted and rely solely on them for a perfect life.

Signs That Indicate You Might Need Back Surgery

When the above treatments don’t cure your back pain, spine surgery treatment might be the next alternative. Certain signs qualify a person for spine surgery, some of which are stated below:

  • Spinal deformity

As confirmed through imaging studies, surgery might be an option if you’re experiencing spinal pain due to spinal instability or deformity.

  • Consistent and increasing pain 

If the pain does not subside or worsens after some months, your doctor might suggest you see a spine surgeon.

  • Radiating pain (Radiculopathy)

If, after a while, the pain extends to your arms and legs, it may be due to herniated disks or bone spurs, which is a result of spinal osteoarthritis. In this case, your doctor may recommend surgery.

  • Emergency

Doctors may also recommend immediate spine surgery in emergency cases such as accidents or severe conditions resulting from cauda equina syndrome. This condition caused by a tumor, infections, or lumbar stenosis often leads to total paralysis, which is why it is considered an emergency.

When to Contact a Spine Surgeon?

Even if you have one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need spine surgery. Dr. Robert Louis recommends that you first see your primary care physician discuss possible causes and non-surgical solutions for your back pain. 

If the pain persists and your doctor has confirmed the diagnosis with imaging (X-ray or MRI), you can schedule a consultation with a Neurosurgeon Newport Beach Talking to a surgeon doesn’t mean you’re committing to surgery. It’s simply an opportunity to learn more about the options you have for seeking relief, and if you think you need to be seen by a spine surgeon, contact us to make an appointment or call us at (949) 438-3835.