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Considering Lumbar Surgery? Which One?!

If you’ve had chronic back issues on the lower right side that do not respond to natural treatments, your doctor may recommend a lumbar surgery in order to fix the issue(s). It’s always a good idea to do a little research on your own before you agree to have a lumbar spine surgery. While these surgeries are often successful, there are also cases where the symptoms are not relieved, in which case back surgery has put you at risk for nothing.

Our bodies are very powerful healers. In many cases, sciatica, herniated or compressed discs,lumbar stenosis, or lumbar spondylosis can be healed without surgery (Whew! Those are a mouthful aren’t they? Just saying them is enough to make your back hurt). With the right combination of stretches, rest, exercises, acupuncture, and/or lumbar support, your body may have a chance to heal itself.

Otherwise, there are several lumbar surgeries that can relieve chronic back pain and get you on the road to recovery.

The Most Common Types of Lumbar Surgery

Epidural Steroid Injections

Okay, we know this isn’t (technically) surgery, but it is an invasive procedure, often used as a “last resort” before surgery is recommended. Your doctor will inject a steroid into the sac surrounding the spinal cord to relieve pain.

Microsurgery

When your disc is bulging, and placing pressure on surrounding nerves, you may be helped by a microsurgery procedure. A needle will be inserted into the fluid-filled disc to remove some of the fluid. This will shrink the bulge, and should relieve the compressed nerve. It can also be used to remove small disc fragments that have escaped the disc walls, irritating surrounding nerve tissue.

Diskectomy

Sometimes, a herniated disc can be treated by removing a portion of it. This will relieve surrounding nerve tissue but leaves enough disc material between the vertebrae to provide adequate cushion and support.

Spinal fusion

This is a more involved surgery. During this procedure, the vertebrae causing the problems will be fused together so they can’t move – the ultimate spinal support. While it often provides a permanent fix, there are cases where outcomes aren’t permanent.

Disc Replacement

This is one of the newest lumbar surgery procedures on the market, so its long-term affects are still being researched. Doctors use a synthetic disc to replace your ruptured or herniated disc, in the hopes that it will provide greater lumbar stability and eliminate your symptoms.

Spinal disc surgery

In cases where herniated discs are compressing surrounding nerves, surgeons can perform spinal disc surgery to remove the portion of the disk that’s sticking out. Once it’s removed, voila! The pain will recede. Unfortunately, the relief is often temporary.

Laminotomy

In most cases, you will never hear the word laminotomy uttered in your presence unless your spinal growths, or spurs, are so prevalent  that you experience loss of bladder/bowel function, balance, feeling, or mobility. This lumbar surgery removes pieces of the vertebrae to reverse a patient’s lower back symptoms. It is considered a high-risk surgery.

Will My Insurance Cover a Lumbar Surgery?

As long as you’ve gone through proper diagnosis, treatment(s) and therapy protocols before your doctor prescribes this specific surgery, there is a good chance a portion of the costs will be covered. Newer procedures, such as disc replacements, may not be. Always call your health insurance provider to find out what they are willing to cover.

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