If you’ve ever had back pain, you probably already know that it can be very painful and debilitating. Unfortunately, some people don’t realize they need back surgery until it’s too late.
Back pain is a common concern patients bring to doctors according to Georgetown University Health Policy Institute data. Over 65 million Americans experience back pain within the past year, and 16 million suffer persistent or chronic pain.
A person’s risk for chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain increases with age, and they are each highest among people over 65. A common reason for seeking medical care is chronic pain, particularly pain with a high impact that often limits life or work activities. Having chronic pain is linked to poor mental health, dependence on opioids, and decreased quality of life.
You may need more than medicines and other therapies to address the underlying nerve or structural issues that are causing your pain. Due to this, if you are in pain, you are left with no choice but to seek relief through back surgery.
Here are some signs that you may need to consult your doctor about back surgery options.
Back pain should be treated with surgery only as a last resort outside of acute or emergency conditions. Even though surgery is often helpful, it is invasive, requires recovery time and rehabilitation, and is not without risk. In addition, surgery is generally the most expensive treatment option.
The first thing you should always consider when treating back pain is conservative treatments such as physical therapy, drugs (pain relievers or anti-inflammatory agents), lifestyle changes, or even alternative treatment options. Some people do not respond to these treatments, especially those with definite nerve damage or spine problems. If conservative treatment methods are not working, back surgery is a possible option to discuss with your doctor.
There is more to back discomfort than simple irritation; it can dramatically impact your everyday life. You may have a hard time running a long distance or playing with your children due to back pain or restricted mobility. Mobility restrictions because of your back can limit your ability to work in certain fields or industries, or they can put you at risk of serious harm. Back surgery could be the key to regaining control over your life and returning to the activities you once enjoyed.
The agony of being in constant or acute pain shouldn’t become a part of one’s everyday life. Pain management strategies and medicines can be beneficial, but they don’t get to the root cause of the problem, and they come with a host of risks as well. The purpose of back surgery, instead of treating the pain itself, is to treat the source of it. While it is not always the best option, back surgery may provide long-term relief, so you can live your life to the fullest.
Experiencing unusual, acute, or severe pain, numbness, or tingling indicates a medical emergency. Seek medical assistance right away if you experience these symptoms. Numbness or tingling can be caused by nerve injury, pinching, or a herniated disc in the back.
Nerve compression in the spine is often responsible for these symptoms. Radiculopathy, also known as radiating pain, is often caused by pressure on a nerve root in the spine. In certain circumstances it may be necessary to undergo surgery.
Having numbness can be frightening and hazardous, increasing your risk of falling and injuring yourself as well as impeding your ability to perform basic motor functions. Such cases may justify back surgery.
Patients often wait it out before going to surgery for back discomfort to see if the pain goes away or if they are able to treat it without surgery. However, in some cases, back pain might be an emergency requiring immediate surgery.
Acute events and trauma, such as a car accident, can result in an emergency, as can chronic ailments that have gone unexplained and evolved into emergencies.
The next step to consider with your doctor is back surgery if your back pain is debilitating and more non-invasive options have not been effective. Dr. Butler has over 20 years of experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of thoracic and cervical conditions requiring surgery. If you believe you might require back surgery, your best step is to ask your primary care physician for a referral to Dr. Butler or another qualified spinal surgeon. An experienced surgeon will be able to look at your imaging, listen to your symptoms and concerns, and assess your chances of a positive outcome.