The Effects of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can have a debilitating effect on your life. It can affect you both personally and professionally and only those who suffer from conditions of the lower back can understand and appreciate the pain and suffering you experience.
Chronic lower back pain is typically as a result of degenerative arthritis in the lumbar spine.
There are different forms of lower back surgery, however before describing these forms of surgery, it will be helpful to understand the lumbar spine anatomy.
Lumbar Spine Anatomy
There are three area of the spine and they are known as the cervical (neck); the thoracic (middle back); and the lumbar region (lower back). The spinal column is comprised of vertebrae, discs to cushion the vertebrae as well as nerves and nerve roots. At the base of the spinal canal is the sacrum and coccyx. There are also many muscles and ligaments in addition to holes for nerves to exit from. These holes are known as the foramen.
Prior to recommending lumbar surgery, conservative forms of treatment are offered. These include the use of over the counter medication, physical therapy, heat/ice therapy, activity modification and chiropractic therapy.
If pain relief is not found in these more traditional forms of treatment, surgery will most likely be recommended for more serious cases of lumbar conditions.
Types of Lower Back Surgery
With the ever evolving medical industry, conservative surgeries are now being offered through minimally invasive procedures. These minimally invasive procedures are beneficial to the patient due to a number of reasons. Most notably is the use of a local anesthetic versus a general anesthetic, minimal scarring due to a much smaller incision, in/out surgery meaning no hospital stay and a quick return to your normal day to day life. Patients who elect to have minimally invasive procedures performed are taking a lengthy walk the same day they have had the procedure performed. Some of the procedures are a discectomy; laminectomy; foraminotomy; and spinal fusion. While there are other types of lumbar surgery, these are the most common surgeries performed.
Lumbar Disc Replacement
Lumbar disc replacement is a procedure to replace damaged discs that are beyond repair. Due to discs not having a blood supply, they are not able to repair themselves. While there are procedures performed to relieve pressure on bulging or herniated discs, when the disc is severely damaged, the lumbar disc replacement is performed. This procedure involves taking a prosthetic replacement that would act as the cushion between two vertebrae. It is similar to that of the hip or knee. The prosthetic disc is typically made up of two endplates that are metallic. These endplates are separated by an inner core that is designed to function as the regular disc does i.e. the soft, gelatinous material found in the center of the disc that allows it to act as a cushion.
This can be done through a minimally invasive procedure by making a small incision below the umbilicus. The damaged disc may be removed in part or in its entirety and may be a singular disc or multiple disc replacement. If multiple discs need to be replaced, this can be done during one surgery.