Sciatica is a debilitating condition characterized by pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve. This condition can significantly impact your quality of life. While most cases are treatable with conservative treatments like physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments, some may require surgery.Surgery may be a viable option when a patient continues to feel…
Spine Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions
The idea of undergoing any surgery tends to cause panic, and this also applies to spine surgery. Patients often have many questions about the process and how the surgery will affect their lives. In this article, you will find answers to some commonly asked questions about spine surgery.
Who needs spine surgery?
Typically, spine surgeries are not emergencies. This means that patients need to decide whether they need the procedure or not. It is a question of whether they are comfortable with the severity of the pain or discomfort they feel. Spine surgery is often only considered after all other non-surgical interventions fail.
What does the surgery entail?
There are two major forms of spine surgery: nerve decompression if the pain is caused by compression, and spine stabilization, which involves attaching hardware into the spine’s bony components to ensure stability and promote healing. Most spine surgeries are a combination of these two types. The surgeries generally last between one to three hours but may take longer if there is a need (however rare) for complex spine reconstructions.
Is there a risk of paralysis during the procedure?
Many patients ask this question a lot, and it comes from concerns about being permanently injured by the surgery. The risk of total paralysis or immobility due to spine surgery is extremely low. Paralysis occurs less than 0.5 percent of the time, and it is often a temporary situation.
Will the surgery be painful?
It is hard to make the entire process painless, but advancements in techniques and technology used in spine surgery make it significantly less painful than before. The first few days are usually when the pain is the worst, then it generally gets better from there. After a week or two, patients should notice improvements compared to how they felt before the surgery.
When will the symptoms start to improve?
Patients should start to get better soon after the surgery, especially if the pain is caused by nerve compression. The incision from the surgery may cause pain for a bit. The doctor will provide recommendations to relieve discomfort. Note that the rate of recovery depends on the patient and the procedure and can take between three to 12 weeks.
How soon will walking be possible?
Walking after the surgery is possible but not advisable. Patients might need some recovery time afterward, considering the effects of anesthesia will not disappear immediately. Patients will need to ease into walking independently. In most cases, patients can return home the same day. However, they may need to remain in the hospital for one or two nights if there is a drain or discomfort.
What are the limitations after surgery?
Usually, the surgeon will advise the patient to avoid twisting, bending, or lifting. For procedures that involve spine stabilization and fixing some components, the restrictions may continue for up to three months after the procedure.
If you have more questions about spine surgery, feel free to ask the surgeon for answers. Having all the information you need can help you prepare adequately for the procedure.
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