Brain and Spine
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Spine Surgery

When Is Spinal Surgery the Right Treatment?

Surgery is rarely the first treatment for back pain. Certain emergencies may require immediate surgery. For most people, however, doctors recommend more conservative therapies before considering an operation.

Back pain can take months to resolve. Some people with pain don’t want to have an operation. They find ways to live with and manage their condition.

Dr. Kuether often refers interested patients for nonsurgical care. Among the options are spinal steroid injections, acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy and massage.

Eventually, if pain continues after a long course of therapies, your doctor may advise spinal surgery.

Dr. Kuether usually advises at least three to six months of conservative treatment before considering spine surgery. He has had both neck and back surgery himself. He understands firsthand what it feels like to be a surgical patient.

Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

Dr. Kuether performs conventional and minimally invasive surgery. With minimally invasive surgery, small incisions are made. Surgeons work using sophisticated medical equipment including catheters, tiny cutting tools and digital imaging technologies.

With this type of operation, patients heal quickly. Compared with open surgery, minimally invasive surgery has fewer complications and faster recovery times.

Dr. Kuether’s specialties include:

  • Minimally invasive spine surgery
  • Spinal fusion
  • Brain tumors
  • Artificial cervical disc replacement
  • Peripheral nerve surgery
  • Endovascular surgery
  • Brain aneurysms

Common Types of Spinal Surgery

Surgeons recommend the procedure that’s right for a patient’s condition. Here are a few of the most common types of spinal surgery. One of these procedures may be right for you, or your condition may be best treated in a different way.

  • Discectomy: A treatment for herniated disks that relieves inflammation and chronic pain.
  • Spinal Fusion: This surgery permanently joins two or more bones in the spine. It repairs fractures and disk degeneration. Spinal fusion relieves pain and increases spinal stability.
  • Laminectomy/Decompression: A surgeon relieves pressure by removing bone or other material around the spinal canal.
  • Artificial disc replacement: A surgeon implants an artificial disk to replace a degenerated or injured disk. The procedure increases spinal stability and is an alternative to spinal fusion.
  • Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty: A treatment for fractures of the spinal vertebra. Surgeons inject a mixture of cement to repair the bone.

You can learn more about these and other spine procedures by following this link: Spine Surgery Education Link.

Consider Your Treatment Options Before Spinal Surgery

Spinal surgery is best thought of as a last resort. Before you decide to have spinal surgery, educate yourself on treatment options. Surgery may or may not be right for you.