Your spine is an incredibly important part of your body, not only providing you the support and flexibility to move freely, but also acting as a conduit for the signals your brain sends to every organ and limb.
The complexity of the spine means that there are both many issues it can suffer, and a plethora of different surgeries and treatments available to deal with spine-specific ailments.
Let’s go through some of the main types of spine surgery, and the problems they address, so that you understand more about what to expect if you experience spine-related maladies.
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
If your vertebrae are weakened by this condition, then they may become fractured because of the amount of pressure that is exerted upon them from day to day. The surgeries counteract this by strengthening the underlying bone through the addition of a cement-like substance.
If your spinal column is subjected to stenosis, which is a medical term for narrowing, then the nerves contained within it can be compressed.
The upshot of this could be chronic pain in your back, or it could be feelings of numbness which come from signals not getting passed through as they should.
Through a surgical procedure known as a spinal laminectomy, also referred to as spinal decompression, a specialist will extract portions of the bone around the affected areas, which in turn will relieve the nerves contained within from the levels of constriction they had previously experienced.
This is perhaps the easiest to interpret from the name alone, as a discectomy is simply the extraction of a herniated disc from the spinal column, again with the aim of reducing pressure on the nerves which pass through it.
Often a patient with a herniated disc will also have some form of spinal stenosis, hence the reason that laminectomy and discectomy surgeries can often be carried out in tandem, for the sake of convenience as much as anything else.
Rather than removing an entire disc or eliminating any other bony structure of the spine completely, foraminotomy surgery is more to do with making room for nerves to pass from the spin into the rest of the body without being impeded.
As we age, our bodies change, and our limbs in particular can suffer from joint issues, which is of course where nerves are also routed through. By increasing the side of these openings, they can do so without impediment, even if age-related problems have begun to have an impact.
Only mildly invasive, the surgery of nucleoplasty is again aimed at patients with herniated discs. In this case, it is best suited for low level pain associated with this ailment and makes use of a laser device to zap away small amounts of tissue so that decompression can be achieved without needing to remove an entire disc in the process.
This is an example of the high-tech nature of spinal surgery, and should be a reassuring sign for anyone who is potentially in need of such procedures.
One of the more in-depth and challenging types of spinal surgery, spinal fusion is another example with a literal name. Multiple vertebrae can be combined with one another permanently, with the discs between them being removed, creating a single supporting strut rather than several.
The fusing of the vertebrae can be achieved manually with man-made, metallic components, or can be implemented by way of a bone graft as an organic alternative.
While there are downsides, such as the lengthy recovery period and the reduction to flexibility, these are worthwhile sacrifices because of the quality-of-life improvements that spinal fusion can bring to those patients that need it.
Artificial disc replacement
Spinal fusion does away with discs entirely, but with artificial disc replacement, it is possible to install synthetic equivalents in place of those seriously damaged or decayed discs in the spine without compromising the patient’s flexibility.
This is clearly a cutting-edge technique, and one which points to an even brighter future for spinal surgery which will result in better outcomes for patients.
There are a few other types of treatment which focus on back problems, and it is important to speak with a qualified medical professional in order to get the best advice as to which is right for you.
Everyone has a unique body, with unique challenges to overcome, especially with regards to spinal surgery. There are also risks to be aware of and recovery considerations to keep in mind, so this is not something to rush into without thorough forethought.