Back Surgery – Options, Options, Options …..

Back Surgery – Options, Options, Options …..

Openhealth Clinic saw an interesting case recently. The patient in question complains of lower back pain with aching into his left leg. It is slightly upsetting, as four years ago the patient had surgery for similar symptoms. The surgery removed a bulge in one of his lumbar discs, and for four years has been successful.

During this latest visit I told the patient he might require either an injection to the area or surgery to either remove more of the disc or possibly part of one of his vertebra. He then went on to tell me a good friend of similar age (approx 50), had experienced similar symptoms some five years ago and had a spinal fusion. A spinal fusion is the bolting of one vertebra to another. It is what you could call “a belt and braces” job. In view of what our patient considered his own “unsuccessful” surgery, he told me he wished he had gone for the fusion himself four years ago. Apparently, it was offered to him.

I had to disagree. We see plenty of 50-60 year olds who have had spinal fusion earlier in their lives, that present to us with lower back pain. Unfortunately, often there is little to offer these people in terms of treatment, as the scenario has reached the point of no return. Any residual pain may only be controllable by medication. I reassured our patient that his previous conservative surgery still left us room to manoeuvre, both in terms of treatment and conservative revision surgery.

I am blogging this, not because the “friend” was wrong to have the spinal fusion or indeed that this form of surgery is ill advised, because it isn’t. It can be very successful. I simply wanted to point out that you always have options in health issues. Explore them!

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