Back and Neck Surgery
Hundreds of thousands of people annually suffer from chronic neck or back pain caused by a degenerative disc in the spine that is either compressing the spinal cord or pressing on a nerve root. At L+M, all types of treatments are considered to help patients, including physical therapy, braces, injections and medications. For patients who need it, surgery is one of the most effective remedies for this kind of pain.
Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
With an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, the diseased portion of a herniated spinal disc is removed, and the adjacent portions of the spine are then fused together. At L+M, our skilled neurosurgeons are performing both traditional fusions as well as using artificial disc devices. The artificial disc surgeries involve placement of a stainless steel “ball-in-trough” device that mimics the natural behavior of a spinal disc. Benefits can include more mobility after surgery and less stress on adjoining discs. Anterior cervical discectomies are usually performed under general anesthesia. Typically, the patient will remain in the hospital for one or two days. They will generally recover to most activities within 2 weeks, and generally fully recover within 6-8 weeks.
A Lumbar discectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part of a problem disc in the lower back. Discs are essentially the pads that separate the vertebrae in the back, and a lumbar discectomy is surgery to relieve the pressure on a nerve root caused from either a herniated or ruptured disc. Most patients are in the hospital for one day after surgery. Recovery can take several weeks and physical therapy is recommended two to three weeks after surgery.
Degenerative changes in joints and ligaments, particularly in elderly patients, can cause what is known as spinal stenosis. This occurs when large joints place pressure on nerves in the back, often causing pains that can shoot down into the legs. A lumbar laminectomy is designed to remove a small portion of the bone around a nerve, giving the nerve root more space and therefore reducing the irritation and pain. Patients can be in the hospital for a day or two, depending on their recovery. Patients are encouraged to walk shortly after their surgery, but full recovery can take weeks, and it is recommended that patients avoid excessive bending or lifting during their recovery.
Degenerative changes in joints and ligaments, and in the discs themselves, can also cause mechanical back pain. This is typically pain that is present with movement, less so at rest. Removal of the degenerative disc, and possibly removal of the pressure on the nerve roots, followed by instrumentation designed to remove movement at the effected joints, may be recommended.