The thought of having spinal surgery is scary. We understand. At Norton Leatherman Spine Center, lumbar spinal surgery is a last option for treating back pain and only is considered if you have nerve damage or the condition causing the pain does not heal after a long period of time. The good news? Even some nerve damage may be treated without surgery to help relieve symptoms. Your Norton Leatherman Spine Center specialist will run a variety of tests, including X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine if you need spine surgery.
Spinal surgery might be needed if you have:
- A degenerative spinal disorder
- A spinal cord injury
- Spinal stenosis
- Disc damage, such as herniated discs or bulging discs
Nonsurgical treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, ice, heat, massage and physical therapy, work to improve function and reduce pain. Although these alternatives will not cure any type of spinal disease or condition, they will help to relieve symptoms.
Spinal Surgery: What to Expect
Here’s what you need to know should your Norton spine specialist determine that you need lumbar spinal surgery:
Before Your Surgery
You will be called and sent a letter when your lumbar spinal surgery has been scheduled. Included in the letter will be the date and time for pre-admission testing if it is to be performed at the hospital. You also may be requested to visit your family doctor to have lab work or other outpatient testing performed. Please read the letter carefully and attend all scheduled appointments. Failure to attend presurgical appointments may lead to your surgery being canceled. You also will receive a letter regarding blood donation if that step is needed. If you have any questions, please call the Surgery Scheduling Department at the number listed in your letter.
Day of Surgery
You will need to register at Outpatient Registration 1½ hours before your scheduled surgery time. After completing paperwork, you will be escorted to a special area, where an intravenous (IV) line will be started and you will be asked to change your clothes. Also during this time, you may be visited by your physician and/or an anesthesiologist. One or two guests may wait with you during this period. When you are taken into the operating room, your guests will be asked to wait in the surgery waiting area.
Your lumbar spinal surgery may last from four to eight hours depending on the type of procedure. During surgery, the spine surgeon may remove small parts of bone (laminectomy) or fuse two or more bones in your spine (depending on the type of condition you have) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This may be done either through a traditional incision or as a less invasive procedure (laparoscopic).
As with all surgery, there are some risks involved with spinal surgery. These may include:
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Nerve injury
- Need for more surgery
- Failure to relieve symptoms
- Return of symptoms
Most patients are able to resume a normal lifestyle after surgery, but do not hesitate to talk with your spine specialist to determine potential complications.
Depending on the type of surgery you have, physical therapy may be required to restore full movement and flexibility, and to strengthen your back.
See a Spine Care Specialist
For more information about lumbar spinal surgery, or to make an appointment with a spine specialist, call Norton Leatherman Spine Center at (502) 584-7525.