Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeons in Plano TX
Your doctor will examine your back and assess your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs. Your doctor might also ask you to rate your pain on a scale of zero to 10 and talk to you about how well you’re functioning with your pain.
These assessments help determine where the pain comes from, how much you can move before pain forces you to stop and whether you have muscle spasms. They can also help rule out more-serious causes of back pain.
If there is reason to suspect that a specific condition is causing your back pain, your doctor might order one or more tests:
- X-ray. These images show the alignment of your bones and whether you have arthritis or broken bones. These images alone won’t show problems with your spinal cord, muscles, nerves or disks.
- MRI or CT scans. These scans generate images that can reveal herniated disks or problems with bones, muscles, tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments and blood vessels.
- Blood tests. These can help determine whether you have an infection or other condition that might be causing your pain.
- Bone scan. In rare cases, your doctor might use a bone scan to look for bone tumors or compression fractures caused by osteoporosis.
- Nerve studies. Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
Procedures used to treat back pain may include:
- Cortisone injections.If other measures don’t relieve your pain, and if your pain radiates down your leg, your doctor may inject cortisone — a strong anti-inflammatory drug — plus a numbing medication into the space around your spinal cord (epidural space). A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, but the pain relief usually lasts only a month or two.
- Radiofrequency neurotomy.In this procedure, a fine needle is inserted through your skin so the tip is near the area causing your pain. Radio waves are passed through the needle to damage the nearby nerves, which interferes with the delivery of pain signals to the brain.
- Implanted nerve stimulators.Devices implanted under your skin can deliver electrical impulses to certain nerves to block pain signals.
- If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. These procedures are usually reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn’t responded to other therapy.
What Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a type of surgery on the bones of your spine (backbone). This type of surgery uses smaller incisions than standard surgery. This often causes less harm to nearby muscles and other tissues. It can lead to less pain and faster recovery after surgery.
The standard method of spine surgery is called open surgery. This uses a long incision down the back. The muscles and soft tissue around the spine would need to be moved away. In some cases, tissue would need to be removed.
During MISS, the healthcare provider makes a smaller incision. He or she then inserts a device called a tubular retractor. This is a stiff, tube-shaped tool. It creates a tunnel to the problem area of the spine. It gently pushes aside the muscle and soft tissue around the area. The surgeon can then put small tools through the tunnel to work on the spine. The surgeon also uses a special operating microscope and views real-time X-ray images of the spine.
Surgeons can use MISS for some types of spine surgery. These include lumbar discectomy, laminectomy, and spinal fusion.
Most people who have back pain will not need surgery. Your healthcare provider might advise spine surgery if you have a back problem that hasn’t gotten better with another treatment, such as medicine or physical therapy. If you still have a lot of pain, surgery on your spine might fix the problem. Spine surgery can’t fix all types of back problems, though. Your healthcare provider will only advise spine surgery if you have a type of problem that surgery may help. This includes conditions such as:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Spinal deformities (like scoliosis)
- Spinal instability
- Spondylolysis (a defect in a part of lower vertebrae)
- Fractured vertebra
- Removal of a tumor in the spine
- Infection in the spine