When to Consider Spine Surgery

Although a majority of back pain goes away with time, rest, and conservative treatments, there are some circumstances when spine surgery makes sense for providing sustainable relief. The Santa Monica spine surgery center, The Spine Institute, shares a few common situations when surgery might correct pain related to some part of the spine or the supporting nerves and joints.

Conservative Treatments Aren’t Working Anymore

While there are many conservative treatments that can provide meaningful relief for patients with back pain, there may come a time when such treatments no longer provide enough relief to effectively lead a productive life. This is typically the point at which doctors begin to discuss surgical options with patients.

Anatomical Reasons for Back Pain Have Been Identified

If tests (x-rays, MRIs) show an anatomical reason for a patient’s back pain, then surgery is likely to be an option if non-surgical spine treatments fall short. Spine surgery can only be performed to correct an identifiable anatomical issue. Therefore, back pain related to stress or muscle strain, for example, is never remedied with surgery.

Pain is Related to Nerve Compression

When a bulging or herniated disc is compressing nerves supporting the spine, surgery often provides more reliable relief. Improved operating room techniques have also increased surgeons’ precision when it comes to accessing the affected area of the spine. Some other circumstances when spine surgery is likely to be considered include:

  • There is injury to the spinal cord
  • There is extreme pressure on the spinal cord
  • Immediate medical attention is required (as is the case with conditions like cauda equina syndrome or an abdominal aortic aneurysm)

The decision to consider spine surgery usually comes after conservative treatments like physical therapy and pain medications fail to provide substantial relief. The good news for patients is that there is rarely any need to immediately opt for spine surgery, allowing time to seek multiple opinions and weigh all available options before determining if surgery is the right choice.

If you have other questions about undergoing minimally invasive spine surgery in Santa Monica, call us at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with our Medical Director, Dr. Hyun Bae and start on the path toward a more comfortable way of life.