Tuesday, February 16, 2016

An Inside Look at Spinal Discectomy vs. Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal Discectomy Spinal Fusion SurgeryBack pain is the second most popular reason why people go to their doctor (second to the common flu.) There are many different reasons why people develop back problems and different ways to treat the pain and physical issues that drives people to a doctor, physical therapist, or in extreme cases, a spine surgeon.

If you have been dealing with chronic back pain and mobility issues, and perhaps you've been seeing a physical therapist about it, it may be time to have a conversation about spine surgery to effectively treat your condition for the long-term. There are two common spine surgical procedures that are very effective and have helped many people get over their back pain: spinal fusion and spinal discectomy.

What is Spinal Fusion?

When one or more vertebrae are united or fused together the process is known spinal fusion. People often think of it as welding but it is less about welding but more about grafting one bone to another. The actual “welding” occurs as the body heals the graft over a period of several months.

Reasons for Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery is often recommended to treat broken vertebrae, to correct abnormalities like slippages or spinal curves and to eliminate pain from motion. It has also been used to treat some ceria disc hernias as well as certain spinal instability.

Instability refers to excessive motion between vertebrae. This is thought to be the main cause of most back and neck pain and since it can cause damage to nerves, it is a condition that needs to be dealt with sooner than later.
Spinal Fusion Surgery

How is Spinal Fusion Surgery Performed?

There are many approaches or methods that a surgeon can take to conduct a fusion surgery but they all have one thing in common, a bone graft. Whether for cervical or lumbar spinal fusion surgery, the bone graft is placed either on the front of the vertebrae or the back or by doing it both ways. The surgeon is the one who needs to determine the correct approach that will make the final outcome positive and speed up the actual fusion time.

Most board-certified spine specialists perform a frontal bone graft because it is easy but fusing the lumbar and thoracic segments of the spine is best approached from a posterior side. Sometimes the surgery requires the use of screws, cages or splints to hold the vertebrae together as the bones fuse. The desired outcome of a spinal fusion surgery is a solid union or vertebrae

Spinal Discectomy

Spinal discectomy is a common surgical procedure done to treat conditions like herniated or ruptured discs or lumbar spine. Disc herniation or disc prolapse occurs when the outer wall of a disc, the annulus fibrosus is weakened. The weakening may cause the inner soft part of the disc to tear causing the nucleus pulposus to push its way out.

When this material extends past the margin of the outer disc and can cause excruciating pain as it presses against sensitive nerve in the spine. The nerve tissue might get damage causing the patient to feel weak or feel tingling or a pricking sensation in the legs and arms.

Reasons for Spinal Discectomy

Spinal discectomy is a procedure that is meant to take the pressure off the sensitive nerve tissue by removing part of the damaged disc. Not everybody with a herniated disc needs to undergo surgery. Some people find relief from non-surgical treatment and anti-inflammatory medication.

How is Spinal Discectomy Surgery Performed?

Spinal discectomy is an open surgery that involves having a small incision over the spine. Some ligament and bone material might be removed to gain access to the damaged disc. Spinal surgery has been undergoing some exciting changes and there are now more novel and less invasive ways to perform spinal surgery.


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