When Should I Consider Surgery for Chronic Back Pain?

When Should I Consider Surgery for Chronic Back Pain?

Chronic back pain drains your energy and steals your quality of life. Faced with the daily reality of ongoing pain, most people eventually wonder when it’s time to consider minimally invasive spine surgery.

While making a decision about surgery is seldom easy, you can depend on spine specialist and experienced neurosurgeon Richard B. Kim, MD, to explain your options, answer your questions, and make sure you have the information you need to make the best decision for your health.

Top three signs you need surgery

The path to surgery is more complex than three criteria. For example, your overall health, the cause of your chronic back pain, and whether you have any issues preventing you from having surgery factor into the decision.

However, these three key factors give you a guideline, helping you determine if it’s time to consider surgery to relieve your chronic back pain.

1. Conservative care fails

With only a few exceptions, surgery is the last treatment for chronic back pain. Before you consider surgery, you need to try all the appropriate nonsurgical treatments. You also need to give your treatment enough time to improve your pain.

Conservative treatments begin with medications and physical therapy. If your pain doesn’t improve, you may also need interventional therapies such as epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation.

When these treatments don’t control your pain, it’s time to learn about your surgical options.

2. Nerves are compressed

The spinal conditions that cause chronic back pain — a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs — often pinch the nerves. The longer you have compressed nerves, the higher the risk of sustaining permanent nerve damage or serious complications.

Pain that shoots down your legs or arms is a sure sign of a pinched nerve. You may also experience tingling and burning. Severe nerve damage leads to muscle weakness and numbness in your limbs.

Having a pinched nerve doesn’t mean you head straight to surgery; conventional therapies are still the first line of treatment. But if the problem doesn’t improve or you have severe nerve symptoms, we can explore the benefits of surgery.

3. Back pain disrupts your life

You may need surgery when your chronic back pain prevents you from staying active, interferes with sleep, or stops you from going to work and keeping up with responsibilities. You should never put up with disabling pain that makes it hard to sit, stand, walk, and/or lie down.

As chronic back pain gets worse, lasts longer, and affects your mobility, it reduces your quality of life. When you’re ready to draw the line and reclaim your life, you need surgery to repair the underlying problem and eliminate your pain.

Timing requires expert advice

Timing is another important issue when you’re making decisions about surgery. Painful back conditions often improve on their own, which takes time. However, delaying surgery too long may lead to a worse outcome, like permanent nerve damage.

Collaborating with us for all your care gives you the benefit of consistent treatment and advice from a neurosurgeon. We diagnose the cause of your chronic back pain, provide conservative care, and have extensive experience performing minimally invasive spine surgery if you need it to get the pain relief you deserve.

If you’re ready to explore your treatment options for chronic back pain, call Richard B. Kim, MD, or request an appointment online today.

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