More than 500,000 back-related surgeries are performed each year in the United States, with the most common procedures being decompression and spinal fusion. Santa Monica surgeons understand why most people want to avoid any type of spine surgery when possible. However, some conditions, especially anything involving severe symptoms that can’t be treated any other way, are best remedied with surgery. The good news is spine surgery can often be avoided with conservative, non-surgical treatments.
Extra pounds can place added stress on your spine and affect how you experience pain. Conditions like disc herniation can become more noticeable when excess weight aggravates nerve roots that are already being compressed. Losing just 15 to 20 pounds can make a difference if you’re overweight and living with persistent back pain.
There are many muscles that directly and indirectly support the spine, including the abdominals, rotators (obliques), and back and gluteal muscles (extensors). Getting into the habit of resting too much when you have back pain can also make discomfort worse as muscles become weak from a lack of use. The general recommendation with exercises to ease back pain is to focus on core muscle groups. If you have difficulty with some movements, you may benefit from gentler forms of exercise like yoga and Pilates or water-based exercises.
Think beyond the mainstream and you may discover treatments that benefit you. Chiropractic manipulations, for instance, may correct issues with spinal alignment, increase circulation, and stimulate the release of endorphins. Involving the insertion of sterilized needles into strategic points on the body, acupuncture sometimes has positive pain management effects. Since results are highly subjective, there’s not a lot of data available to confirm results.
Injections directly target the source of spine pain, especially if it’s related to pressure on nerve roots. Epidural steroid injections contain medication that eases inflammation. Nerve blocks work by preventing nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Relief from injections may last up to a year.
Physical therapy is one of the most commonly recommended conservative treatments for back pain, and it may help you avoid surgery once the source of your discomfort has been positively identified. Therapy for pain management purposes can be passive in the form of electrical stimulation, temperature therapy (hot and cold applications), or therapeutic massages. It can also be active in the form of exercises that target specific muscles and joints.
Another way to avoid getting spine surgery is to pay attention to what you eat. Green, leafy veggies and fatty fish like tuna and salmon naturally reduce inflammation, and low-fat dairy products rich in calcium strengthen the backbone and its supporting joints. You may also benefit from working with a dietician or nutritionist. There are a variety of other ways you can further reduce the possibility of needing spine surgery. Santa Monica patients should report any new or worsening symptoms to their doctors sooner rather than later.
Though it’s natural to be apprehensive about receiving any type of surgery, you can trust in the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute Center. Whether it’s for artificial disc replacement or a lumbar laminectomy, Santa Monica patients can rely on The Spine Institute to find an effective solution for alleviating their back or neck pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.