If constant back pain has you in its clutches, you may feel inclined to do something about it. You should. But should you go as far as having back surgery? Believe it or not, even if you have searing, crippling back pain most of the time it’s not going to require surgery.
So how do you know when you do need surgery? Here are 7 situations when you really need a back surgeon.
1 – YOU HAVE PAINFUL BONE SPURS
Bone spurs are extra bone growth in the spine that tend to be a harmless consequence of aging. But when bone spurs grow to the point of clamping down on or compressing spinal nerves, they may need to be removed surgically. Signs that bone spurs are creating serious spinal problems include tingling, weakness, numbness or pain radiating out to the extremities.
2 – YOU HAVE A SLIPPED, BULGING OR RUPTURED DISC
Your spine is composed of 33 vertebrae — a network of nerves — and a series of intervertebral buffers called discs. With age or certain activities, spinal discs can end up bulging, slipping or rupturing altogether. That can result in pressure on spinal nerves – leading to pain and inflammation. When things like easing the discs back into place with light stretching and exercise don’t work, it may be time to consult a surgeon about treatments that can help.
3 – YOU’RE GETTING SHORTER
With age comes diseases that can make bones in the spine significantly weaker — like osteoporosis. And brittle, fractured or broken bones due to osteoporosis can make the spine collapse on itself, causing the patient to lose height. When options for relieving osteoporosis-related pain don’t work — or when the back becomes dramatically hunched over — surgery may be necessary.
4 – YOUR SPINE IS ABNORMALLY AND DRAMATICALLY CURVED
Depending on the severity of disease, patients with scoliosis — an abnormal curvature of the spine, sometimes described as “S-shaped” — or a similarly disabling condition called kyphosis may need surgery.
5 – YOUR SPINAL CANAL IS NARROWING
The spinal canal is a hollow space that houses and protects the spinal cord. When the bones along the spine become abnormally narrowed they are said to be stenosed.
If non surgical treatments fail to address stenosis and —
- Your movement or balance is severely impaired;
- You lose feeling in parts of your body;
- Your bowel or bladder functioning are affected
— surgery may be needed.
6 – YOU FEEL NUMBNESS, TINGLING OR WORSENING PAIN IN THE EXTREMITIES
Things like unremitting or worsening pain, pain that migrates from the low back down the back of the leg or fever are a few signs you may need back surgery.
7 – YOUR PAIN IS SO SEVERE THAT IT IMPACTS YOUR ABILITY TO FUNCTION NORMALLY
Severe back pain that gets in the way of normal day-to-day functioning –
- The ability to work;
- The ability to sleep
- Functioning (bowel or bladder problems, weakness in the legs)
- The ability to stand up
– all are signs that you likely need surgery.
With bowel and bladder problems or crippling weakness, your first stop should be an emergency room.
If your back problem is on this list, reach out online or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.