Lumbar Surgery Animation

Your lumbar spine is your lower back, and you may be experiencing low back pain right now, leading you to think:  Am I going to need spine surgery?  In this short animation, you'll get an overview of the types of lumbar spine surgery, which low back conditions it can treat, and what you can expect after surgery.

However, there is no substitute for talking to your doctor/spine surgeon.  He or she will be most familiar with what spine condition is causing your lower back pain, and he or she will be best able to recommend treatments.  If you have any questions about the type of lumbar spine surgery recommended or why surgery is recommended for you, please talk to your doctor.

Common Low Back (Lumbar Spine) Conditions

There are several spine conditions that can cause lower back pain.  You can learn more about these on SpineUniverse; we have in-depth articles, videos, and slideshows about many back problems.

Below is a list of some of the conditions that can cause lower back pain.  Click on the links to be taken to more doctor-reviewed and written information on that spine condition.

Low Back Pain Treatment Before Surgery

Before recommending lumbar spine surgery, your doctor will most likely recommend non-surgical treatments.  You may hear these treatments referred to as "conservative care."  If they do not address your lower back pain or other symptoms after several months, your doctor may recommend surgery. 

Possible lower back pain non-surgical treatments include:

  • medications
  • physical therapy
  • spinal injections
  • exercise

When Is Lumbar Spine Surgery Recommended?

There are some emergency situations where lumbar spine surgery may be immediately recommended.  For example, if you have bowel or bladder problems related to your low back pain, sugery may be recommended immediately.

Otherwise, as mentioned above, non-surgical treatments are tried for several months in an attempt to reduce your pain and address the underlying cause of your pain.  If those do not work, your doctor may suggest surgery.  However, the final decision for surgery is yours and yours alone.

It's perfectly acceptable to get a second opinion on spine surgery; this is a major decision, and you want to make sure that you're making the right one. 

Types of Lumbar Spine Surgery

Because there are many causes of low back pain, there are many types of lumbar spine surgery.  The type of surgery you have is dependent on what's causing your pain.  Your doctor/spine surgeon will carefully explain the lumbar spine procedure he or she is recommending; be sure to ask as many questions as you need to in order to fully understand.

Some types of lumbar spine surgery are:

Recovery from Lumbar Spine Surgery

Your recovery is unique to you: it may take you less time or more time than someone who had the same procedure.  The important thing is to listen to your doctor and your body. 

Your spine surgeon (or his/her staff) will give you detailed instructions on what you can or can't do following spine surgery as your body heals.  This will include returning to work, lifting heavy objects, and excercising.  These instructions will also cover your medications to address any post-operative pain.

It's crucial to follow your doctor's instructions precisely; this will help you recover well from lumbar spine surgery.


Updated on: 03/22/16