Back Surgery Misconceptions

A common misconception that I see is that back surgery fails to alleviate symptoms of back pain. Many patients have friends or family members that had failed back surgery. Several recent articles in newspapers and magazines have perpetuated this notion. The media doesn’t differentiate between the wide variety of surgeries, and more importantly the variety of reasons spinal surgery is done. There are many types of spinal surgery, and the medial puts back surgery into 2 types: laminectomy, and fusions. There are many different types of spine surgery, and even when discussing laminectomy and back fusions, there are many ways that these can be done. The size of the incision, whether it is multiple levels, or 1 level, the exact diagnosis? These and many other questions will determine a successful outcome.

When patient seeks the help of a spinal surgeon, that is usually the last resort. Those patients have typically been through extensive conservative treatment. Conservative treatment may consist of physical therapy, behavior modification, acupuncture, pain management, and other non-invasive treatment options. When a spinal surgeon evaluates patients with spine problems, the history may include severe back pain, as well as radiating leg pain, which most people know as sciatica. Sciatica is usually caused by a pinched nerve such as a herniated disc. Other common back conditions are: degenerative disc disease, stenosis, spondylolisthesis and scoliosis. These conditions can involve 1 level or multiple levels. The surgeon and patient must first decide what is the biggest complaint the patient is having. Is it back pain or sciatica. Is the sciatica severe? Does it involve tingling and weakness in the leg? Has the patient tried conservative treatment? If the patients primary complaint is sciatica symptoms that did not respond well to conservative management, then back surgery has a high success rate. Successful surgery may be 80-90%. Most of these patients are quite happy with there surgery. When patients have back surgery for back pain only, with no sciatica complaints, there is a much higher failure rate. That is why most spinal surgery is done for patients with back pain as well as sciatica symptoms.

Over the past 10 years, the technology for back surgery has advanced dramatically. Minimally invasive procedures have become more popular. A back surgery that previously involved large incisions, with major blood loss, and long hospitalizations, can now be done with small incisions, minimal blood loss, and short hospital stays. In some cases patients can go home the same day as the surgery.

Please contact our office to understand more about how Dr. Rovner can directly improve your back and spine today.