Laser Spine Surgery As A Treatment Option For Chronic Back Pain

Experts point out that back surgery generally is an option only when pain symptoms are persistent and so severe that they are disabling. At that time, a surgeon may recommend minimally invasive surgical procedures and may discuss with you the use of laser spine surgery.

While not everyone is a candidate for this type of surgery, when the usual conservative, non-surgical back treatments or alternative therapies have failed to give you relief from chronic back pain, laser surgery offers another alternative. Still, it's important to consider several crucial factors before making your decision.

Why do doctors perform back surgery?

Depending on the severity of your condition, a surgeon may recommend spine surgery to:

  • Relieve symptoms including chronic back pain, muscle weakness, and/or numbness and tingling in the extremities

  • Decrease pressure on a compressed spinal nerve by removing part of a herniated disc or diseased or damaged vertebral bone

  • Stabilize spinal bones

When isn't open back surgery necessarily the right choice as a surgical procedure?

Open back surgery:

  1. Has the potential to make degenerative disc disease worse. If disc degeneration is widespread, any pain relief following surgery may be only temporary, particularly if degeneration is present at multiple levels of the spine. The mechanical motions you make may continue to put stress on the spine, leading to problems with other spinal discs.

  2. Involves a longer incision – usually 5 to 6 inches in length – increasing the risk for infection. Making a long incision allows the surgeon to move muscles that support the spine to the side, allowing him or her a better view of the spine. But during the procedure, damage can occur to healthy tissue and muscles surrounding the spine, which may require a longer recovery period or future surgery to repair the damage.

  3. Must be performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. Potential side effects of general anesthesia following surgery include disorientation, confusion, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, chills, and a sore throat from the breathing tube.

  4. Can cause more pain following surgery. You may experience pain afterward that is different from your previous chronic back pain.

How does laser spine surgery differ from more invasive open back surgical procedures?

Advantages of laser spine surgery to consider:

  • Performed on an outpatient basis

  • Small incision

  • Lower risk of infection

  • Shorter recovery period

  • Costs less than traditional back surgery

What conditions do orthopedic and neurosurgeons use a laser surgical technique to treat?

  • Herniated disc

  • Bulging disc

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Sciatica

  • Pinched nerve

Consider that while laser surgery may offer advantages for some patients, just like more invasive surgical procedures, it isn't always successful at treating a person's back pain effectively.

How does a surgeon use a laser during a back surgery procedure?

Your surgeon may use a laser that focuses a powerful beam of light to:

  • Cut away tissue

  • Deaden the nerve endings in the facet joints – joints in the spine that allow you to bend and twist your back – which transmit pain signals

  • Remove nerve impingement – pressure on a nerve

To learn more about back pain relief and to explore your non-surgical options, speak with a professional like those at Commonwealth Chiropractic.