Many people afflicted with neck pain, back pain or sciatica ultimately find themselves face-to-face with a spine surgeon. While this may seem alarming, a high-quality surgeon will first ensure that all non-operative measures, including physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and possibly injections, have been exhausted prior to considering an operation. Should surgery ultimately be recommended, it’s important to realize that new technologies have made such operations safer and more effective.
A multitude of techniques can be drawn upon to craft a surgical plan tailored to a given patient’s unique circumstances. Minimally invasive spine surgery offers not only smaller incisions but preservation of the muscles and other soft tissues. This results in less pain, faster recovery and increased function.
The whole goal is to help people get back to doing the things they love
Disc replacement is a relatively new technology that allows for motion preservation in select patients who would have previously required spinal fusion. This can be performed in the neck or low back. Avoiding fusion not only allows for maintenance of flexibility, but it also has a protective effect on adjacent discs.
With modern surgical techniques and advancements in anesthesia, patients are typically up walking soon after surgery, and many go home the same day. “Patients with sciatica typically wake up from surgery and experience immediate pain relief,” said Dr. Peter Derman, orthopedic spine surgeon at Texas Back Institute. Gone are the days of lengthy hospitalizations and rehabilitation stays. Less pain also means a reduced reliance on narcotic pain medications, which have been shown to harbor their own negative, long-term consequences.
Dr. Derman recommends seeking out a physician who clearly explains the issue and the treatment options so that the patient can assume an active role in his or her own recovery. While a great surgeon will develop an individualized surgical plan and execute it expertly, successful outcomes require a team effort between the doctor and patient, so it is important for the patient to find a teammate with whom he or she connects. Commitment to physical therapy and lifestyle modifications such as avoiding tobacco products and maintaining a healthy body weight are things that will help patients feel better faster.
“The whole goal is to help people get back to doing the things they love,” Dr. Derman said.Texas Back Institute >
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