Can Back Surgery Relieve My Osteoarthritis?

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Surgery is generally not recommended for spinal osteoarthritis
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Can Back Surgery Relieve My Osteoarthritis?

I have osteoarthritis. Is lumbar back surgery an option for me?

Surgery is generally not recommended solely for osteoarthritis-related back pain unless there are specific indications like deformity, infection, or fractures. Lumbar pain often has multiple causes beyond osteoarthritis that surgery may not address effectively.

Lumbar back surgery may be an option for individuals with osteoarthritis of the spine if they experience persistent pain and other symptoms that have not responded to conservative treatments. However, surgery is typically considered a last resort after other options, such as physical therapy, medication, and injections, have been tried. The decision to undergo surgery depends on various factors, including the severity of the condition, the location of the affected area, and the individual’s overall health. Some common surgical procedures for treating osteoarthritis of the spine include spinal decompression (laminectomy or foraminotomy), discectomy, spinal fusion, and implantation of spinal implants. Each procedure has its advantages and risks, and your doctor will help determine which one is best suited for you based on your specific diagnosis and circumstances.

According to NYU Langone Health, surgeons may recommend lumbar back surgery for individuals with advanced osteoarthritis of the spine who experience conditions such as spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis. These conditions can compromise joint stability or cause pinched nerves. Spinal fusion and decompression are two common surgical techniques used to treat these conditions. Spinal fusion stabilizes the spine by permanently joining vertebrae using small screws and rods, eliminating movement between them. Spinal decompression relieves pressure on nerves traveling through and near the spine by removing part or all the lamina (laminectomy), enlarging neural foramens (foraminotomy), or removing part or all of a herniated disc (discectomy).

It’s essential to note that spine surgery is typically elective and should only be considered when other nonsurgical treatments have failed to provide satisfactory pain relief. Before deciding about surgery, it’s crucial to discuss the risks, benefits, alternatives, and your preferences with your doctor. For most patients, committing to a rigorous nonsurgical treatment program can help avoid the need for back or neck surgery. This program typically includes rehabilitative physical therapy and exercise.

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