Aging, improper body postures, trauma and structural abnormalities can injure your spine, leading to back pain and other symptoms such as leg, numbness or even leg weakness. Chronic back pain is a condition that requires a health professional to diagnose and treat.
What about conservative treatment?
As with all non-emergency spinal surgeries, a trial of non-operative treatment, such as physical therapy, pain medication, or bracing should be considered before surgery.The period of conservative treatment varies between six weeks to six months in the general timeframe.
Spine surgery may be recommended if non-operative treatment such as medications and physiotherapy fails to relieve symptoms. Surgery is only option where the source of pain can be determined as a herniated disc, scoliosis, or spinal stenosis.
Open surgery vs. minimally invasive surgery
Most of the time, spine surgery is usually performed as open surgery. This includes opening the operative site with a long incision so the surgeon can view and access the spinal anatomy. However, minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve long incisions, leading to shorter operative time.
Indications for When to See a Spine Surgeon for Low Back Pain
The decision on whether or not to undergo spine surgery for low back pain is always the patient's decision. The spine surgeon should give enough information about the pros and cons of the procedure to assist the patient for decision making process.
Important factors that patients may want to consider prior to seeing a spine surgeon for their low back pain include:
• Level of low back pain and/or leg pain. If the pain is not alleviated by non-surgical treatments and has continued for a few weeks or months, it may be time to see a spine surgeon.
• Ability to function with the low back pain. More important than the level of low back pain is the patient's ability to continue to function in everyday activities. If one is not able to go to work, drive to the store, and complete other activities of daily living, it may be advisable to consider spine surgery.