In the case of back pain due to a bulging disc, surgery is often the last resort and it is only applied where conservative means to heal the bulging disc cannot work. While back surgery does not guarantee that you will be relieved of back pain, it works more often than not. There are several options that you can choose from when it comes to back surgery, and it is vital that you understand all of them to have the ability to make an informed decision.
Types of Back Surgery
1. Spinal Fusion
This type of surgery happens to be the most common type of surgery to treat back pain. It involves the joining of the vertebrae together. The result of the joining of the vertebrae together is that it limits the movement between the spinal bones and the extent to which your nerves can stretch, but it does not inhibit your activity. In some cases, though rarely, the bones do not completely fuse and in such a case you will have to undergo another surgery to make them fuse completely. The main cause of the bones not fusing completely is smoking.
For this type of surgery, the surgeon removes bones spurs, ligaments, or part of the bone that is in the back. The goal of this procedure is to reduce the amount of pressure on the nerves in the spine consequently easing the weakness or pain. The downside of this type of surgery is that it may result in your spine becoming less stable. If this happens, you will have to undergo a spinal fusion to eliminate your spine’s weakness. Just as a precaution, some doctors tend to do a laminectomy and spinal fusion together.
For this procedure, the surgeon eases your pain and relieves the pressure on your nerves by widening the exit of the nerves on your spine. He or she widens the exit by cutting away bone at the sides of your spinal bones (vertebrae). Just as is the case with a laminectomy, you run the risk of having an unstable spine after undergoing this procedure, and the doctor will have to conduct a spinal fusion to stabilize your spine.
In some instances, a disk moves out of position and presses on your nerves causing you a lot of pain. The surgeon will opt to perform a diskectomy to remove part or the entire disk. He or she removes the disk by making a small cut on your back. This type of surgery is sometimes performed together with a laminectomy, spinal fusion, or foraminotomy.
5. Disk Replacement
This type of surgery involves the surgeon replacing your damaged spinal disk with an artificial disk. The biggest advantage with this type of surgery is that it allows you to have the ability to move or bend your spine. In addition to that, the recovery period for a disk replacement is short as compared to a spinal fusion. The only shortfall of this procedure is that the disk may sometimes fall out of position and thus it will have to be repaired from time to time.
6. Interlaminar Implant
An interlaminar implant involves the implanting of a U-shaped device in the lower part of your back in between two vertebrae. The role of the device is to help maintain the space between the vertebrae consequently easing the pressure on the spinal nerves. This procedure has the advantage of increasing the spine stability and enhances the movement of the back. The implant, however, inhibits your ability to bend backward.
Back Surgery Benefits
Some of the benefits of having surgery done to your back include:
- You will have the ability to move around better
- Improves your mood
- You will not need to take as many painkillers as compared to the other methods of healing a bulging disc
- You will be more physically fit
- Increases productivity at work
Risks of back surgery
The probability of getting a complication after a back surgery is low. However, you should know that every operation carries some risk and they include:
- Bleeding out
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Herniated disk
- Nerve damage
Bulging disc surgery recovery time
The time it takes to recover from a bulging disc surgery depends on a few factors such as age and genetics. However, you will most likely be walking up and down the hospital one or two days after the surgery. The average time you will take before going back to work will be about 3-6 weeks.
Bulging disc surgery cost in Australia
The cost of a bulging disc surgery varies wildly and is dependent on a few factors such as the surgeon, hospital, and city. It also depends on whether you have health insurance or not. For uninsured patients, the cost ranges from 30,000 AUD to 60,000 AUD.
While back surgery is a great way to getting rid of back pain, it is important that you always seek the opinion of a second spine specialist before undergoing surgery. Sometimes spine surgeons differ in opinion when it comes to the type of surgery that needs to be done, when it needs to be done and whether surgery is necessary at all.