The type, extent and cause of your back pain will determine whether or not you are suitable for spinal surgery and what surgical procedures might be recommended.
You will normally be offered less invasive procedures in the first instance, such as therapeutic injections or physiotherapy. If these fail to provide relief or if you condition has deteriorated, you may be offered surgery.
There may be a number of possible surgical procedures for your particular condition – see the individual Conditions pages for more details.
Among the more common spinal procedures are:
This is the removal of all or part of a disk that has slipped out of place and is pressing on a spinal nerve, causing pain.
Surgery may be performed using microdiscectomy, which entails making a small incision and using a microscope to remove the damaged portion of disc as well as a small portion of bone that covers the spinal cord.
Alternatively, percutaneous surgery involves making a small incision in your back and removing a portion of the disc using a laser or suction device.
This involves fusing two or more vertebrae together. By preventing the vertebrae from moving in this way, spinal fusion helps to relieve pain that is caused or aggravated by movements like bending, twisting or lifting.
It can also be used to slow the progression of spinal deformities such as scoliosis, to stabilise a spine that has been damaged (due to tumours or infection) and to treat injuries to the vertebrae.
It is the most common type of surgery for chronic nonspecific back pain that is degenerating over time.
This is used to treat spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column that causes compression of the nerve roots.
It entails removing the lamina, which is the back section of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord. This enlarges the spinal column.
Bony spurs that have developed on the spine due to osteoarthritis are also removed. In some cases ligaments are removed too but you may also require spinal fusion in this instance to restore stability to the spine.
This is used to relieve the pain associated with compressed spinal nerves. It entails cutting away bone at the sides of the vertebrae to widen the space for the nerves to exit your spine.
Like laminectomy, this can result in some spinal instability so you may also require spinal fusion surgery.
These are similar procedures used to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae and relieve pain. During the procedure a cement-like material is injected into the affected vertebrae, helping to strengthen fractured bone.
If you are undergoing a lcyphoplasty, the doctor will also insert a small balloon-like device into the compressed vertebrae and inflate it before the material is injected. This helps to restore height to the crumbed vertebrae.
This is a less invasive alternative to laminectomy. With an interlaminar implant, the surgeon implants a U-shaped device in between two vertebrae in your lower back, helping to keep the space open and easing pressure on your spinal nerves.
The procedure may be performed at the same time as a laminectomy and unlike spinal fusion, the implant provides stability while allowing you to move your back more freely.