Lumbar spine surgery is often necessary to treat pain caused by nerve root pinching. This can occur when pressure is placed on the root of a nerve. Pressure can come from keeping your body in unnatural positions for extended periods of time, such as bending your arms when you are sleeping or having poor posture. Nerves tend to be at their utmost vulnerability where they travel through narrow passages with little soft tissue to protect them. Compression from ligaments, tendons, and bones is usually the culprit.
Common symptoms of compressed nerve include pain in the area of compression, radiating pain, numbness or tingling, burning sensations, or weakness during certain activities. There are two major types of lumbar spine surgeries to address this issue: lumbar decompression and lumbar fusion.
Lumbar Decompression Surgery
Lumbar decompression surgery seeks to relieve pressure on the nerve root, thus relieving pain. Frequently, a pain management physician recommends lumbar decompression surgery to treat a herniated disc or spinal stenosis in the lumbar region of the spine.
A herniated disc is one of the most familiar types of lower back conditions, as over 3 million cases arise per year in the United States. Discs become herniated when the outer ring of the disc ruptures, leading to the exposure of the disc’s soft core. This usually occurs with age as discs become dehydrated and stiff. Herniated discs can also come about from sudden, improper movements.
Spinal stenosis is a bit more rare, occurring in 200,000 patients per year. The word stenosis comes from the Greek word that means “choking.” Spinal stenosis is usually the result of degenerative conditions that compress spinal nerves in the lower back. This leads to leg pain and other discomforts. Radiating pain is often called radiculopathy or sciatica.
Lumbar decompression surgery involves removing small pieces of bone that lay over the nerve root. It is also possible to remove material from underneath the nerve root to ease the pressure by giving the nerves more room. It requires a small incision in the midline of the lower back, no longer than one and a half inches.
In a lumbar fusion surgery, two or more vertebrae are fused together to form one larger bone. A bone graft from your hip or a donor is used to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment. Some bone is removed from the surface of the vertebrae to create a “bed” for the graft to grow. To stabilize this, the surgeon inserts hardware. After a few weeks, new bone grows and secures itself to the spine, completing the fusion process. This surgery is often performed to relieve aches and pain caused by degenerative disc disease in the lumbar region or spondylolisthesis.
Lumbar degenerative disc disease is the process of a disc degenerating over time. This condition is neither a disease nor a degenerative one, meaning it does not necessarily worsen over time. Symptoms include extreme episodes of lower back or neck pain that last for days to months before the patient’s lower back or neck pain returns to its regular level of intensity. Patients may feel worse when they perform motions like bending, lifting, and twisting. Certain positions can also exacerbate the pain, such as sitting down.
If you tolerate chronic back and/ or neck pain on a daily basis, you may be a candidate for lumbar surgery. It is important to meet with a pain specialist to determine the right approach to manage your pain. Surgery is often an option when treatments like yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy have failed. Oftentimes, strong prescription pain medications fail to offer relief as well, which is why the specialists at Garden State Pain Control are proficient in delicate surgical procedures that yield excellent results. Call us today at 973-777-0304 or click here to book an appointment.