Consider New Options for Your Back Pain

Submitted by Dr. John Shutack on November 04, 2019

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Is back pain ever-present?

You’ve tried conservative approaches, like physical therapy and steroid injections, but your back or neck pain is still ever-present. It may be time to consider a surgical intervention, or at least a second opinion.

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Whether you suffer from degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis—or you have no idea of the origin of your back or neck pain—a visit with a neurosurgeon could help. There are many new and established procedures that may reduce or eliminate the pain and return you to your former life. Despite the name of my specialty, I always work with patients to try alternatives before offering surgical solutions [link to previous article], however when these options have been exhausted, surgery can be the answer.

Advances in technology have allowed today’s spinal surgeries to become less invasive and more precise. Whether you’ve seen a doctor regularly or you previously decided against a suggested procedure, I recommend that you schedule a new evaluation in today’s ever-changing field. It just might be the best decision you’ve ever made.

There are several surgical options that may be right for you. Please keep in mind surgical options are always advancing. It is best to keep in touch with your surgeon to determine the best selection for your situation.

For neck pain we offer:

Cervical disc replacement

Cervical discs act as the cushion between the vertebrae in the neck. Removing the damaged disc and exchanging it with a replacement device can preserve motion and reduce irritation. The recovery time for this surgery is also shorter than cervical spinal fusion or discectomy. It is ideal for patients with preserved range of motion in the neck who have one or two level disc problems.

Cervical fusion

This surgery typically involves an incision at the front of the neck, similar to the way disc replacement is done. By fusing two or more vertebrae together, we can provide decompression and stabilization of the cervical spine.

Cervical discectomy

Through a small incision at the back of the neck, the surgeon is able to approach the cervical spine. Then we remove the disc, or a portion of it, to help relieve pressure from the affected nerve. In most cases the pain will reduce or resolve and disc replacement or fusion is not needed.

For lower back pain, we offer:

Minimally invasive microdiscectomy

For lumbar herniated discs, this disc removal surgery is done using a smaller incision, which speeds recovery. It is done mostly to relieve symptoms from compressed nerves caused by the displacement of disk material.

Foraminotomy

Used to relieve nerve pain in the spine, during this surgery the surgeon widens the space where the nerves depart the spine, thereby relieving pressure. This procedure can also be performed using a minimally invasive approach and is ideal for low back and leg pain caused by focal bone spurs, which are smooth bumps of extra bone that form on the ends of bones.

Laminectomy

A laminectomy removes a portion of vertebral bone that is causing back and leg pain. It can be performed using a minimally invasive approach or traditional approach. It is mostly used for central spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the bony canals through which the nerves and spinal cord pass.

Spinal fusion

This process fuses vertebrae of the spine together to stabilize.. This procedure can be combined with a laminectomy, especially when instability of the spine is identified.

This is just a sampling of the most common procedures performed on the spine by most neurosurgeons. Every surgery is always tailored to the patient and each surgeon has specialties. That’s why it’s paramount to speak to a surgeon about your individual situation and his or her recommendations.

A board-certified neurosurgeon and fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Dr. John Shutack practices at Chesapeake Regional Neurosciences, Neurosurgery, a part of Chesapeake Regional Medical Group. He received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his general surgery internship and neurosurgery residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va. in 2002.