What is spine surgery?
Spine surgery involves a surgical procedure of the spine or associated anatomy to treat a spinal medical condition.
There are many reasons why people may experience a medical condition that affects the spine. If you experience neck or back pain, you should see your GP for a medical and physical exam so they can help diagnose your condition. They may obtain a CT scan or an MRI scan to assess your spine. Sometimes you will need other tests such as bone scans and x-rays.
Your GP may refer you to a specialist doctor like a neurosurgeon if they determine you need particular expertise to diagnose and treat you.
A neurosurgeon can examine and treat you for conditions such as:
Medical specialists treat conditions in different ways, depending on how they present in your body and what is best for you. Treatment can include rest, medication, physiotherapy, acupuncture and massage therapy. Low-impact exercise programs may improve range of motion, increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and mobility, and increase endurance and reduce pain.
A neurosurgeon can advise further treatment if these suggestions don’t improve your condition. They can assess your imaging and recommend cortisone steroid injections. They can also recommend surgery. An appropriate surgical operation can significantly reduce pain and increase you mobility and quality of life.
What are different types of spine surgery?
Some of the most common neurosurgical procedures involving the spine and spinal cord include:
- an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
- a posterior cervical laminectomy with or without lateral mass fixation/fusion
- an anterior cervical discectomy and disc replacement (arthroplasty)
What does an operation involve?
Because causes, symptoms and imaging findings can vary significantly, your neurosurgeon must tailor a surgical procedure for you.
A surgeon can either perform a traditional surgery or employ minimally invasive techniques, which involve a smaller incision and special microsurgical instruments. Minimally invasive techniques can shorten recovery time and reduce complication risks.
Most patients are mobilised either on the same or following day of surgery because it is often beneficial to keep their bodies moving soon after it. A physiotherapist may review a patient and advise on exercises to help them regain strength and heal.
Sometimes healthcare professionals will design a rehabilitation program to meet a patient’s needs. The goal of back and neck rehabilitation is to help a patient return to their highest level of functioning and independence, and improve their overall quality of life.