How to Know When It’s Time for Spine Surgery

Spine problems can severely affect the quality of life. Most people opt for conservative treatment options to avoid going under the knife. Fear factor plays a pivotal role in why people avoid surgery.
In some cases, however, despite utilizing every known medication and remedial measure, the signs and symptoms persist. Surgery becomes an inevitable option for such patients. If you have been living with spine problems, you must be able to know when it is time to go for spine surgery. Let’s delve deeper into the topic.
Non-surgical options are not working for you
Some spine problems like chronic back pain may be controlled well with non-surgical options like painkiller medications or nerve blocks. In other cases, however, these options may not be enough to adequately relieve the symptoms. Surgery is deemed quite a viable option in cases where conservative treatment options fail to produce significant results1.
You cannot perform your routine activities
If even simple tasks like walking become too much of a burden, it is a major sign to consider surgery. In such cases, the benefits of spine surgery far outweigh the potential risks involved. Spine surgery can help improve your ability to perform your daily tasks.
Your symptoms are rapidly worsening
Spine problems can manifest as a wide range of signs and symptoms such as weakness or tingling sensations in legs or arms, bowel or bladder control problems, inability to walk, pain, and stiffness etc. In some cases, these symptoms may be mild and can be controlled with non-surgical options.
If, however, you notice rapid worsening of your symptoms, it is an indicator that the underlying injury may be worse than you think. In such cases, non-surgical options may not be enough to rapidly control the symptoms and delaying the surgery can be more harmful.
Your quality of life is compromised
The chronic pain and disability associated with spine problems significantly impacts the quality of life. As their ability to participate in life becomes restricted, patients start becoming increasingly bed-bound and dependant on others. Research shows that surgery can significantly improve the quality of life for patients with spine problems2.
When surgery is the only option
In some cases, surgery is the only available treatment option to treat the spine condition, as in the cases of broken or dislocated bones of the spine or spinal cord tumors.
If you are experiencing spine problems, instead of taking help of Dr.Google or self-treating at home, visit a spine surgeon to know whether or not you need spine surgery. Timely intervention can help relieve the signs and symptoms and can, thus, improve your quality of life.

1. Acaroglu E, Yavuz AC, Guler UO, Yuksel S, Yavuz Y, Domingo-Sabat M, Pellise F, Alanay A, Grueso FS, Kleinstück F, Obeid I. A decision analysis to identify the ideal treatment for adult spinal deformity: is surgery better than non-surgical treatment in improving health-related quality of life and decreasing the disease burden?. European Spine Journal. 2016 Aug 1;25(8):2390-400.
2. Ibrahim, A., Crockard, A., Antonietti, P., Boriani, S., Bünger, C., Gasbarrini, A., Grejs, A., Harms, J., Kawahara, N., Mazel, C. and Melcher, R., 2008. Does spinal surgery improve the quality of life for those with extradural (spinal) osseous metastases? An international multicenter prospective observational study of 223 patients: invited submission from the Joint Section Meeting on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, March 2007. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, 8(3), pp.271-278.

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