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Spinal Surgery - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Spinal surgery, also known as lumbar surgery, concerns any kind of surgery conducted on the lower back. There are two types of lumbar surgery: lumbar fusion and lumbar decompression.

The main objective of a lumbar decompression surgery is to ease the pain caused due to neural impingement (pinched nerve). This pain is referred to as sciatica or radiculopathy. This involves removing a tiny part of the bone above the root of the nerve to address the pinching of the nerves. The commonest types of a lumbar decompression surgery include discectomy and microdiscectomy.

Lumbar fusion concerns itself with easing the pain at a particular portion in the individual’s lower back. Mostly, this type of a surgery is carried out in the case of any disability or pain from spondylolisthesis or a lumbar degenerative disc condition. This technique uses a bone graft to thwart any type of movement in the painful part of the vertebra that in turn takes care of the pain that was caused due to the movement. Bone stimulators, bone grafts, and other medical devices are used in this surgery.

How is the treatment done?

A Lumbar Microdiscectomy is one of the most important minimally invasive surgical procedures carried out to ease pain from pinched nerves. Firstly, a minor incision is made in the patient’s lower back and the affected part (that is in contact with the pinched nerve root) is removed. It has a pretty high success rate (of about 90-95%) in alleviating pain. Often times, the patient experiences instant relief from pain. However, for some, the symptoms might not resolve completely.

A Lumbar laminectomy, on the other hand, is performed to address lower back stenosis symptoms. In this technique, the lamina (the bone that is present at the back of one’s vertebra) at one or multiple segments is taken out that in turn prevents any further pressure to be put on the nerves in the spine.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Spinal surgery is carried out because:

  • Spinal fusion can be performed independently or in combination with the surgery to remedy tissues and bones which might be narrowing down the spine canal and thus squeezing the nerves of the spine or the spinal cord in itself.
  • It can also be done as part of a follow-up post any surgery to address conditions such as herniated disc, spinal stenosis, infection, tumors, and injuries.
  • Can be performed to treat problems such as fractures.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

There is no non-eligibility criterion as such. If the patient experiences pain from a pinched nerve or spinal instability, he/she should consult a spine surgeon and consider the decision of a spinal surgery. However, if any evidence of an anatomic cause isn’t detected through a CT scan or an MRI scan, then spinal surgery should be avoided. In a nutshell, there must be some anatomical lesion that can be considered to be the reason behind such a pain. At the end of the day, however, it is completely the patient’s discretion whether or not to go for spinal surgery.

Are there any side effects?

The possible side effects and complications depend on the patient’s age, the overall state of health, the type of procedure opted for and the problem that is being treated. Some of the possible side effects are:

  • Pain emanating from the site of the bone graft
  • Breakage of the metal implants and/or weakening of the fusion
  • Blood clots that could result in pulmonary embolism
  • Injury to the nerves
  • Infection
  • Rejection of the bone graft by the body

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After the spinal surgery, the patient will be kept under supervision for a few days. If the patient is recuperating at home, bed rest would not be required. A back brace might be prescribed by the doctor for you so as to speed up the recovery process. Rehabilitation post-surgery can take its own time. Usually walking, swimming and riding a static cycle are some of the activities that constitute the rehabilitation program.

How long does it take to recover?

Post spinal surgery, recovery can take about 4 months’ time. This is because the bones take the time to heal completely and the healing process may continue over a period of one year. In the case of a spinal fusion, the doctor will recommend one to be off work and other activities for about a month or even more (approximately 4-5 weeks); especially if the patient is young and is in otherwise good physical shape.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of spinal surgery in India lies in the range of approximately Rs.4, 22,500- Rs.6, 17,500.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Spinal surgery is important to render stability to the spine after any trauma, accident or injury. However, there isn’t sufficient research about whether it works as effectively for other problems of the spine as well. Studies have failed to come up with stark differences in the way this surgery and intense rehabilitation would work for chronic problems. Though it does provide relief from quite a few problems with the back, it will always be wise to consult with the doctor regarding the risks and benefits, given that it is a costly surgery and entails its fair share of side effects.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The possible alternatives include:

  • IDET
  • Posterior dynamic stabilization
  • Artificial disc
  • Disc regeneration

Popular Questions & Answers

79 years has been diagnosed with Lung cancer (NSCLC) Adenocarcinoma & Metastatic Spinal Compression too for D9 & D10 vertebrae. Please advise whether Chemotherapy is to be given to him first or Surgery for Spinal Compression is to be done first? He is bedridden currently due to severe pain in the spine. His Spinal MRI & Lung scans are attached for your ready reference in this app under X-ray. Kindly advise asap.

MBBS, MS - General Surgery, DNB - General Surgery
Oncologist, Mumbai
If the spinal compression is causing symptoms like weakness of arms and legs, then surgery is needed first as failing that the paralysis will worsen. Once he recovers from that, we can immediately start the chemo. For adenocarcinoma we also have l...
6 people found this helpful

After my spinal surgery (Interlaminar micro-lumber disectomy) two month back. I was feeling tingling in left arm, I had enquired with my doctor and he said spinal surgery has nothing to do with left hand tingling. Now tingling has gone but I feel numbness and sometimes weakness. Please advise if its a temporary and can be treated at home?

MBBS, Diploma In Orthopaedics (D. Ortho)
Orthopedist, Lucknow
Hi You are on right medicine.just try some local massage, vivaran gel application of affected area and neck, hot fomentation and neurobion forte once daily
4 people found this helpful

I am 36 years old women completed Bariatric surgery and abdominal surgery seven months back now I am suffering from Back pain in the spinal cord.

Fellowship in Shoulder and Knee Surgeries, DNB (Orthopedics), Diploma In Orthopaedics (D. Ortho), MBBS
Orthopedist, Nagpur
It is because of Weight and probably calcium deficiency. You need to do some back exercises, some medicines. You will do fine
1 person found this helpful

Hi, I am 25 years old and have backache for last 2 months, what should I do, in 2006 I got surgery and anesthetic has given at spinal cord.

Dip. SICOT (Belgium), MNAMS, DNB (Orthopedics), MBBS
Orthopedic Doctor, Noida
Hi thanks for your query and welcome to lybrate. I am Dr. Akshay from fortis hospital, new delhi. You are very young to actually have persistent back pains. Can you mention what surgery was done, normally spinal needle for injection should not be ...
5 people found this helpful

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