Effective Alternatives to Spinal Surgery for Less Severe Cases

Even though patients who have severe spinal problems usually get surgery recommended to help correct it, this can be scary. Additionally, your pain levels may not be strong enough to justify undergoing spinal surgery, so you may start wondering about any alternatives. Luckily, medicine has advanced over the recent years to allow you to have several choices if you don’t want to undergo a complete surgical procedure on your back.

Knowing what they are and if they’re a possible option to help alleviate your pain levels and give you your life back is essential to help tailor a treatment plan to your needs. We’re going to go over several options you have if you don’t want to have spinal surgery below, and you can see which ones sound best that you can take to your doctor or surgeon and see if they’re feasible.

Neuromodulation Devices

This type of treatment works to stimulate the nerves around and in your spine with an electrical current. This is a popular therapy to help relieve low back pain, and this category of treatment options includes peripheral nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation. Patients who choose to go this route get a device that will send electrical currents to the affected nerves in the back. It’s common to get a test device to see if this is a viable option to help you manage your pain levels. If you do like it, you can request that your surgeon implants a permanent neuromodulation device right under your skin.

Intradiscal Electrothermal Coagulation Therapy (IDET)

This is a simple procedure where the medical professional will insert a needle into the space between your spinal discs. They will then pass a catheter through this needle and heat up the outer core of the disc space or the annulus. Although the exact way this procedure helps to treat back pain isn’t known, most people believe that the heat thickens and contracts the collagen fibers in the wall of the disc. In turn, this seals up painful cracks and tears to reduce your pain levels.

You can use this procedure to cauterize your nerve endings to make them less sensitive. You should note that not all patients will benefit from this procedure. It’s very common with people who have more severe degenerative disc disease. This is a minimally-invasive procedure that you’d normally have as an outpatient in the hospital with no overnight stay, and they use a local anesthetic and mild sedation. It has a very marginal clinical efficacy, so it’s not extremely popular in the spine world. Also, a lot of insurance companies may not cover the cost.

Vertiflex Interspinous Spacer Implantation

A patient who has spinal stenosis can get this type of implant. This implant will release smaller arms that work to hook over your spine and secure it into the correct placement. The spacer goes between your vertebrae to make room for the nerves that run through your spine. As a direct result, you’ll notice that your vertebrae don’t press on the spinal cord nerves and apply pressure. As the pressure on the spinal cord nerves decreases, you’ll have a reduction in the symptoms you have.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD)

If you’re someone who has a mild case of spinal stenosis or disc issues, you could get a certain degree of relief using this spinal surgery alternative. Spinal stenosis works to narrow the bones around your spinal cord, and this treatment lets the surgeon decompress the impacted areas of your spine by getting rid of the bony lamina or bone spurs. This lowers the pressure on the spinal cord, and this can help reduce the amount of nerve pain you feel.

Disc Regeneration

Researchers in the molecular and cellular biology sectors are exploring ways that medical professionals can use gene therapy to try and slow down or prevent disc degeneration or regenerate the disc itself. The goal is that this type of therapy will remove the need for spinal surgery. During animal studies, the BMP-12 gene has significantly increased cell regeneration in both the annulus and nucleus of the vertebral discs. This is the molecule that promotes embryonic joint formation. They’re also doing research into gene therapy to help slow down the degeneration process. This is still in the early research stages, but the findings so far have been very promising.

Lifestyle Changes

If the patient is overweight or has an unhealthy lifestyle, this can dramatically impact back pain levels. Many doctors prescribe lifestyle changes like getting a little more active or switching your diet to something healthier to try and lose a little weight. Your medical team will most likely come up with plans you can follow at home, and they may even put you in touch with a nutritionist to help you understand what and how to eat to promote a better lifestyle.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often one of the first things your medical treatment team will suggest when you bring up persistent, chronic back pain. You’ll sit down and have a consultation with the physical therapist, where they’ll go over your medical history and pinpoint where the pain is. Once they know all of this, they can design a tailored treatment plan to suit your needs. You may have one or more visits to the therapist’s office a week, and they will most likely walk you through routines and simple exercises you can do at home between sessions to strengthen your back muscles and relieve some of the pressure on your spine.

Florida Spine Associates Can Assist with Spinal Surgery Alternatives

If you’re looking for more alternatives to spinal surgery, we can help. Our dedicated and friendly staff are happy to book a consultation with you and discuss your options. If you’re not ready for spinal surgery, there are several things you can try first to help give you some relief, and we’ll make sure that you understand all of your options to help you make an informed decision.