Back Pain Treatment: Spine Surgery

Written by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD

Spine Surgery
Fortunately, most back pain problems are treated successfully without surgery. However, there are certain conditions that are routinely treated surgically.
Discectomy
The most common cause of low back pain is a herniated disc.The surgical option for this condition is called a discectomy. A discectomy involves removing the soft gel-like material in the disc, returning the disc to a more normal shape, and relieving pressure on the nerve.

Laminectomy and Laminotomy
Spinal stenosis is another common cause of back pain, particularly in older people. The surgical option for this condition is called a laminectomy (removal of the entire lamina) or a laminotomy (partial removal of the lamina). The lamina is the small bony plate located in the back of each vertebra. Partial or total removal of this plate gives the surgeon access to the intervertebral disc. These surgical procedures are also used to treat spondylolisthesis and to relieve pressure on the spinal canal caused by spinal tumors.

Foraminotomy
A foraminotormy is a surgical procedure used to expand the opening through which nerves exit the spinal canal. This procedure is usually done to treat a compressed or pinched nerve.

Spinal Fusion
Spinal fusion is another surgical procedure. Spinal Instrumentation is often combined with spinal fusion. Instrumentation uses metal devices such as cages, metal plates, screws or rods. Fusion is the addition of bone graft that grows and heals in and around the instrumentation. These procedures are performed to stabilize the spine.

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