Spine Surgery in Dallas, TX
Does spinal surgery work?
Surgery is usually the last option for treating chronic back pain. This is because most back pain that isn’t due to a herniated disc or bone spur pushing on a nerve root or the spinal cord, or to compression in the spinal canal, will improve with time and possibly physical therapy.
However, if your pain is chronic and debilitating, spinal surgery with the experienced team at Texas Neurosurgery can change everything. While the various surgical options we employ may not always remove all of the patient’s pain, in the vast majority of cases they significantly alleviate the patient’s pain and improve their quality of life.
The key to successful spinal surgery is to remove the source of compression on contact with the spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord itself. Plus, today’s minimally invasive techniques make recovering from spinal surgery far easier than it was just a decade ago. Even fusion surgery is much different and much more successful today.
How long is recovery from spinal surgery?
>Obviously, your recovery period is highly variable depending on the type of spinal surgery you had. Was it open surgery or minimally invasive? Was your surgery spinal fusion of two or more discs, or was it a microdiscectomy to remove part of a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root?
The range of recovery time is this: spinal fusion will take from six months to one year for the fused spinal vertebrae to fully heal and fuse. A laminectomy or discectomy may require only about 12 weeks for recovery.
A couple things are important. For at least six weeks, no matter what type of spinal surgery you had, don’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Don’t bend or twist at the back. If you need to pick something up off the floor, either have someone else do it or use a long-handled gripper.
What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
The goal of minimally invasive spine surgery is to achieve outcomes equivalent to those of traditional open surgery without the corresponding muscle cutting, disruption of ligaments, and damage to surrounding soft tissues. Minimally invasive techniques can be used for both discectomies and for spinal fusion.
Minimally invasive techniques involve making a very small incision and inserting a tubular retractor. Rather than having to cut the muscles to gain access, the muscles are separated. The tube then provides visualization, in coordination with x-ray fluoroscopy, of the area to be addressed.
After minimally invasive spine surgery, patients have far less post-operative pain and need for narcotic use, have less soft tissue damage, spend fewer days in the hospital, and have faster recovery times.
Does laser spine surgery really work?
You may have heard of laser spine surgery, but don’t believe the hype. Lasers have little or no value in spinal surgery for a couple reasons.
First, lasers can cut disc tissue, but surgeons find it much more effective and reliable to mechanically grab the disc fragment and remove it from the nerve it is compressing. Lasers are no more effective, and they add an element of risk. This is because the disc is next to the nerve root, which can be damaged by the laser.
Second, laminectomies and other spine surgeries need to cut bone. This is necessary to remove areas of bone pressing on nerve roots or the spinal cord. Lasers cannot cut bone, so they are of no value.
Bottom line? Lasers have been great for many areas of surgery, such as with the eyes. Despite being around a long time, they are not used by even a minute fraction of back surgeons, including the team at Texas Neurosurgery. This is because lasers are not effective in spinal surgery. Their use by some questionable practitioners is nothing more than empty hype.
What should I expect after spine surgery?
Due to the variety of spinal surgeries we perform at Texas Neurosurgery, the unique situation of each patient, and their individual pain thresholds and healing mechanisms, it’s hard to give an exact sheet of expectations.
Some procedures may allow you to go home the same day, while others may require up to three nights in the hospital. You’ll likely have increased pain in your back for a week or two, even after the nerve is decompressed. In the legs, the pain is usually better immediately, although there can be increased tingling after decompression. Numbness is one of the last symptoms to improve with full recovery, often taking up to several months to resolve.
To understand what you’re looking at after your particular spine surgery, it’s best to do your research on our site and others about each procedure. Of course, during your consultation and subsequent appointments leading up to surgery and afterwards, we’ll give you a good idea of both what is coming and what is likely to happen afterwards.
What kinds of surgeons perform spine surgery?
Both neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons perform spine surgery. Both of these specialists can further focus on spinal surgery. At Texas Neurosurgery, all of our surgeons — Dr. Barnett, Dr. Michael, and Dr. Bidiwala — are neurosurgeons. Neurosurgeons are required to have a six- or seven-year residency-training program after graduating from medical school. During this time they will assist in hundreds of spinal procedures. Orthopaedic surgeons follow a four- or five-year training program. There are residencies where orthopaedic surgeons can specialize in spine surgery.
What are the risks with spine surgery?
These are major surgeries, so they entail all the risks involved with surgery: excessive bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, the formation of blood clots, and poor wound healing.
There are various risks with spine procedures. Probably the biggest overall risk is that the pain does not resolve even after surgery. Here are some other specific risks that vary by the procedure.
- Fusion surgeries have the risk of the fused vertebrae not completely fusing. This is rare, but more likely in cigarette smokers.
- Laminectomy surgery removes the entire lamina on the back of the vertebra, along with any bone spurs and possibly ligaments. The risk with this is that it can create instability in that area of the spine.
- Foraminotomy surgery removes bone at the sides of the vertebrae to widen the space where the nerve roots exit the spine. This can also create instability in the spine and require future fusion.
- Discectomy surgery removes all or part of a herniated disc that is pushing on a nerve root. The main risk with these procedures is that they don’t fully relieve the pain and that compression continues.
- Disc replacements remove the damaged disc between two vertebrae and replace it with an artificial disc. In these surgeries, there is a risk that the artificial disc will slip or fall out of position.
To learn more about our Neurosurgical Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!