For many years, there was only one widely accepted strategy to treat chronic back pain: traditional invasive spinal surgery. However, advances in modern technology over the past few decades have provided us with tools and techniques that allow physicians to treat back pain much more efficiently. Many traditional surgeries now have minimally invasive alternatives that provide the same relief with much less downtime.
In traditional spinal surgery, the surgeon needs to make a large incision in order to view the region that they will be working on. This large incision damages the area surrounding the operating area and can add days to recovery. Minimally invasive surgeries solve this problem by using an incision that is less than two inches long.
With such a small incision, how can the surgeons see the actual area that they are working on? A tool similar to an endoscope allows surgeons to get a closer look at the problem site without damaging the surrounding tissue. Of course, a smaller incision means that the surgeon needs to be well practiced and have an excellent track record to execute this kind of surgery properly. This makes the search for the best surgeon imperative.
Less Damage to the Surrounding Tissue
The large incisions necessary for traditional open surgery can easily damage the otherwise healthy tissue surrounding the operating area. These create avoidable risk not only during the procedure but even in the following recovery period.
Not only does the long incision cause harm to the area surrounding the injury, but it also takes much more time to be able to perform the procedure safely. In traditional surgery, more preparation is needed before the procedure, and more recuperation after the procedure is complete. Due to these issues, these operations can last several hours. Here at Phoenix Spine, our minimally invasive surgeries often take barely more than an hour to complete.
Those who make the Decision to get surgery have often dealt with terrible back pain for a majority of their lives- so creating the shortest recovery period to alleviate their pain is very important to us. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate recovery time, minimally invasive spine surgery can significantly reduce the time you are out of commission. Traditional spinal surgeries typically require a hospital stay that lasts several days as well as requiring you to operate at reduced speed for up to several months. Alternatively, the total recovery time for minimally invasive surgery is often just a few days.
Scar size is directly related to both the length of the incision and recovery time. Traditional open surgeries have a higher infection rate (2.4%) than minimally invasive spine surgeries (.05%). Complications like infections can negatively impact the look and feel of your surgical scar.
Same or Better Outcomes with the Right Surgeon
Not only is surgery and recovery more comfortable through minimally invasive surgery, but many studies have shown that the long-term results are equal to or better than traditional means when a skilled surgeon performs the surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is only possible because of new technology that the surgeon must know extremely well to perform such a precise task. This makes it incredibly important to find a board certified, fellowship-trained surgeon to get the best results.
With so many benefits to choosing a minimally invasive spinal surgery, it is an easy choice to make. While minimally invasive surgeries are significantly safer and more efficient, the decision to treat your back pain with a spinal surgery is still not a decision that you should take lightly. Talk to your surgeon to find out what strategy is best to treat your condition and whether minimally invasive spinal surgery is right for you!