Spinal Surgery FAQ

How do I avoid spine surgery?

Answer: Always listen to your physician’s specific advice when it comes to your exact condition, but these five tips can help keep back pain at bay and keep you off the operating table.

1. Exercise. Most people think that rest and activity restriction are the best ways to care for back pain, and while these methods can help prevent you from overstressing your spine, exercise can actually strengthen structures and muscles groups in the area. Additionally, exercise gets the blood pumping, helping to deliver oxygenated blood to the area. If normal exercise is too taxing on your spine, consider aqua aerobics to take pressure off your spine.

2. Diet/Weight Loss. A healthy diet also plays a big role in the health of your spine. Junk food or foods that are high in sugar or fat can contribute to the development of inflammation in your spine, which can lead to pain or compression in the area. A healthy diet will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which ensures you aren’t overstressing your spine.

3. Physical Therapy. Physical therapy is similar to exercise in that it promotes muscle development, but physical therapy specifically targets the problem area(s) of your back. Physical therapy is great for conditions like bulging discs or sciatica pain, because it works to relieve compression or pressure in the area. Talk to your doctor about specific physical therapy exercises you should begin for your condition, and don’t just do them during your session at the clinic. Make time to perform some low-impact physical therapy exercises each day.

4. Injections. Unlike the first three options, injections aren’t something you can do on your own to help your back condition. That being said, injections can be very helpful at calming pain from an irritated or compressed nerve. There are a number of different pain injections available, so you’ll want to consult with a spine specialist and determine exactly what’s causing your pain before moving forward with an injection. Although they won’t provide full relief, corticosteroid injections can provide short-term and some long-term relief depending on the cause of your pain.

How long after spine surgery can I drive?

Answer: As always, you should follow the advice of your surgeon. But, in most cases you can drive when you feel up to driving and are not taking narcotic pain medications or after clearance by your surgeon. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks after a laminectomy and discectomy and 4 to 6 weeks after a lumbar fusion.

What is endoscopic or minimally invasive spine surgery?

Answer: Endoscopic spine surgery is an advanced, state-of-the-art form of minimally invasive spine surgery designed to provide the patient a quicker recovery time and less recurring pain than traditional spine surgery methods. ESS also can help preserve normal range of spine mobility post-operatively. In some cases, the procedure can be performed using regional anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, decreasing overall medical risks in patients who are older and/or have co-existing medical disorders that may increase surgical risk.