Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Treating Back Pain

With incredible advancements in medical technology, you now have more options to relieve back pain than ever before. Minimally invasive spine surgery offers effective treatment that relieves pressure and pain, proving a safer and quicker alternative to open-back surgery.

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What is Considered Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery targets the spinal column (the backbone) and spinal cord with endoscopic methods using small incisions to provide quick relief for varying back issues.

Unlike traditional open spine surgery, where your surgeon typically makes a 5 to 6-inch incision, minimally invasive spine surgery only requires an incision that’s ½ an inch long.

It also requires less downtime compared to traditional spine surgery; Due to the surgery being less invasive, you’ll be able to get home sooner and have a less painful and much quicker recovery.

Endoscopic spinal surgery is one of the more common names for minimally invasive surgeries for back pain. It is common to use procedures to treat torn or herniated discs in the spinal canal and relieve leg pain and chronic lower back pain.

These procedures can also create minimally invasive variants of otherwise traditional spine surgeries. For example, a lumbar laminectomy involves less post-recovery pain and blood loss than its traditional form.

What are Some of the Different Types of Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Spinal Stenosis Decompression

For those who suffer from spinal stenosis, this treatment offers relief from its consequent pain and pressure. Due to spinal column narrowing, there is increased pressure on the nerves inside. Spinal stenosis decompression releases this built-up pressure by opening the canals where the spinal cord and nerves pass through.

Compression Fracture Repairs

This procedure is also known as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. It is common in treating compression fractures caused by osteoporosis and other similar conditions.

Herniated Disc Removal

A herniated disc causes compression on the nerve roots in the spinal column or on the actual spinal cord. This procedure removes the disc and gets rid of the painful pressure.

Artificial Disc Replacement

A damaged spinal disc causes pain, numbness, and weakness. Rather than just removing it, you can have it replaced with an artificial disc to restore your spinal cord’s strength, movement, and height.

Spinal Canal Enlargement

Spinal canal enlargement relieves pain and pressure in the back by enlarging the hole where a disc is “bulging” and causing pain to the nerve root. This procedure may also be used for untreated compression, causing the spinal cord to become thicker, resulting in painful pressure.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion was originally a traditional surgery but now offers a minimally invasive procedure. With two small incisions, the procedure can be accomplished much quicker while taking less time to recover. Its primary focus is treating scoliosis symptoms: spinal deformity and instability.

Who is a Good Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

If you suffer from one or more of these back problems and haven’t found a nonsurgical treatment that’s helped, you might be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.

Candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery have:

What are the Advantages of Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive spinal surgery offers a variety of advantages that make it a great option before considering traditional open-back surgery. Tools used in procedures like a tubular retractor gives surgeons access to areas of the spine without needing to make extra incisions in your muscle.

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Advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Small incisions; most incisions will be no larger than the size of a ballpoint pen or ½ an inch.
  • Shorter length procedures and hospital stay
  • Cheaper than traditional options; less equipment and surgery time equals a smaller bill
  • Faster recovery time; full recovery usually takes 4-6 weeks
  • Less painful recovery and damage to muscles
  • Less downtime and physical therapy
  • Less long and short-term health risks; due to the procedure making smaller incisions and not causing great ruptures to the muscle tissue, it offers fewer risk factors

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Individuals who undergo minimally invasive spine surgery commonly return to regular activities and daily life within six weeks post-operation. Recovery time varies from patient to patient, but the general full recovery is within this six-week range. In comparison, invasive spine surgery can take up to three to four months (12-16 weeks) for a full recovery.

What is the Success Rate of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Patient feedback, medical studies, and personal testimonies have provided evidence of a high success rate for minimally invasive spine surgery. Below are several pieces reflecting the overall positive response.

A Feedback report from the University of Utah found that approximately 80 to 90 percent of patients experienced less pain and better mobility after minimally invasive spine surgery.

Likewise, a National Library of Medicine study found that minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery is safe and highly effective in the elderly population.

According to the Newport Orthopedic Institute, out of 22 young athletes undergoing minimally invasive fusions for lumbar spondylolisthesis, 82% returned to active participation in football, soccer, cricket, and golf.

A summary of the SPORT study (Spinal Outcomes Research Trial) performed by the North American Spine Society showed that between 85% and 100% of athletes could return to their pre-surgery level in a professional sport after a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy.

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