Preparing for Low Back Surgery
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. The lower part of the spine, comprising of 5 vertebrae, is called as lumbar spine. These vertebrae are slightly larger in size than the rest of the vertebrae and play an important role in bearing weight of the body. Apart from these 5 vertebrae, the intervertebral discs, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves are also important for healthy functioning of the lumbar spine. Stress, injury or damage to any of these structures may result in back pain.
Some of the spinal conditions that can cause low back pain and other associated symptoms include disc herniation, lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and adult degenerative spondylolisthesis. The low back pain and related symptoms usually resolve with non-surgical treatments. However, a lower back surgery may be considered, in case any of the following observations are made:
- Non-surgical treatment is ineffective in relieving pain and other associated symptoms.
- Severe pain
- Spinal instability
- Neurologic dysfunction along with pain, numbness and weakness in the arms and/or legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel function: This is a medical emergency
There are different types of surgeries that can be performed for the management of lumbar spinal conditions. The goal of lumbar spinal surgery is to relieve nerve compression and stabilize the spine. The common lumbar spinal surgeries include: discectomy, laminectomy, foraminotomy, laminoplasty, laminotomy, intradiscal electrothermoplasty (IDET) and spinal fusion.
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure employed to join the damaged vertebrae into one solid bone, preventing movement between them and relieving pain. In this procedure, a bone graft is inserted between the two damaged vertebrae that later heals and fuses the two vertebrae together. Spinal instrumentation that employs screws, rods and interbody devices to fuse the vertebrae is also used to stabilize the spine. Based on the approach for the surgery and the positioning of the incision, spinal fusion surgeries can be categorized into different types: anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), axial lumbar interbody fusion (AxiaLIF) and direct lateral lumbar interbody fusion (DLIF).
The type of surgery depends on various factors such as the general health of the patient and the spinal conditions responsible for the symptoms.
Moreover, the recommended surgery can either be performed through the traditional open approach or a minimally invasive approach. Minimally invasive surgery is newer approaches that results in smaller surgical scars, less blood loss, less preoperative pain, quicker recovery, shorter hospital stay and quicker return to normal activities. But minimally invasive approach can be done only in selected few patients.
Before the surgery
Before the surgery, the patient’s medical history and various diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or other imaging tests, are used to ascertain the underlying spinal conditions causing pain and other symptoms. The current health status of the patient is also evaluated through blood tests and other specialized tests, for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. A surgeon always aims at providing the best possible surgical option to each individual patient. Based on the medical condition of the patient and the location of the diseased disc, the surgeon will decide on the type of fusion surgery as well as the approach for the surgery. The surgeon also explains the surgery and its benefits along with the possible risks to the patient.
A general health clearance is obtained from, the general practitioner, for the surgery.
Risk and Complications
The risks and complications of the surgery may include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, or spinal cord injury. Complications due to general anesthesia may also occur.
After the surgery
After the surgery the vital signs of the patient are closely monitored and special care is taken, by the nurses and medical staff, to manage the post-operative pain. Some discomfort around the incision and occasional muscle spasms in the back can occur and resolve in a few weeks after the surgery.
- The incision should be kept clean and dry till it heals completely. Care should be taken to cover it properly while bathing. Swimming and hot tubs should be completely avoided.
- Medications should be taken regularly, as prescribed.
- A back brace should be worn, as advised by the surgeon.
- Physical therapy should be taken, as advised.
- Lifting anything heavier than a shoe should be avoided.
- A healthy lifestyle should be followed to promote healing which includes healthy nutritious food, ample rest and abstinence from smoking. Walking is also encouraged.
- Driving should be avoided. However a ride in the car, for small distances, is allowed.
Contact the surgeon at the earliest on observation of any of the following symptoms:
- Fever ≥ 101°F
- Increase in redness, swelling or pain at the incision site
- Significant change in the volume, color or smell of the incision drainage fluid
- Loss of bladder or bowel function: This is a medical emergency and the surgeon should be contacted immediately
- Numbness in the genital area
Contact your surgeon for any unanswered queries on lower spine (lumbar) surgery.
To request an appointment, please enter the information on the form on the right and press the “Continue” button to start the appointment request process.
Houston Back and Spine Specialists
Advanced Orthopedics and sports medicine has Board Certified/Eligible physicians who are thoroughly educated in the latest treatment techniques both surgical and conservative. The spine surgeons practice conservatively utilizing minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. Should surgery be required, options range from out-patient spinal surgery to major spinal reconstruction and management of scoliosis.
Contact us today to Schedule an Appointment or call us at 281-955-2650 to learn more about our Back and Spine Treatment options.
1Professional Building II At North Cypress Medical Center
2North Cypress Professional Building At Lakewood Crossing
3North Cypress Professional Building At Towne Lake
4Advanced Orthopaedics Memorial
What Our Patients Are Saying
Each procedure done by Dr. Patel has been an improvement. Very pleased.
Dr. Patel has been a great Doctor for me. When I was referred to after discussion we decided to do injections in my back. The first two did not work so did two more in a different section of my back. These injections worked great. I’m now able to sleep at night and the numbness in my foot is almost gone. The tingling in my foot & leg is gone and I am very happy about that. I am extremely happy that Dr. Patel is my Doctor. She has been a good listener when I tell her where I hurt and talks to me about what she feels should be done. The final decision is always mine.
On Nov. 22, 2017, I had a spinal injection in my lower back and it was an instant miracle in my life! For the first time in 4 intolerable months of pain, I was finally pain free, and I am now getting a second chance to live again! I am so grateful to Dr. Patel for my new life, and to God for guiding me to her! Thank you so very much Dr. Patel – you are God’s gift to me, thank you for being so awesome at what you do.
Dr. Patel is one of the best Doctors I have ever had. She is pretty good at her job. She makes it plain and simple. She is also very thoughtful. I was very glad to have met her. In other words she is pretty good.
The surgery done by Dr. S. Patel (Actually injections) & the mild medications she has prescribed has surely made my lower back -hip-leg less painful. I have complete confidence in her medical judgement & advice. She will administer second injection in June.
Dr. Patel is a very good Pain Management Doctor. She is one of my favorite doctors.
Dr. Patel has been great at my pain relief. She doesn’t force me to take any meds I don’t want, or injections. She will give me the injection I want when I need it. Great friendly Doctor.
Thank you for the opportunity to express how pleased I am with the excellent care of Stacy A. Bacon, M.D. I have confidence in her ability to care for me as she successfully partially replaced a broken hip 10 years ago, 2007. I also want to compliment Cheryl who set up the appointment. She represents Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine very well.
It’s been over 8 years since Dr. Bacon replaced by right ankle. I still can’t thank her enough for the years of pain free walking I have done since! And I’m still going strong! I had numerous breaks in my ankle due an auto accident, repaired/set by a different doctor, after multiple surgery’s, I was still limping, in great pain every day. Then I found Dr. Bacon, now, no more pain, NONE, and no more limping after this ankle replacement. I rave about her constantly and would recommend her to anyone who has a foot or ankle issue
I had been in so much pain with my back for years. It got so bad that I knew I had to do something. I went to Dr Mohr for help. I was so afraid to have spine surgery as I had heard so many horror stories. He and his staff were very informative. I was amazed at the new technology in spinal surgery. December 8, 2016 I had rods and pins put in my back. I am so happy I did now. I am healing really fast and the pain is going away as my body heals. Thank you Dr Mohr for you expertise and sensitive nature. You were understanding about my fear and helped assure me so I could receive the help I needed. You are an excellent Doctor.