The Rise Of Chronic Back Pain

More than 80% of American adults will experience back pain at some point in life. Back pain can impact almost any adult, from hardworking moms to established athletes. In most cases, the pain goes away with rest. Yet, there are cases of chronic back pain that can be a sign of an underlying spinal condition. The pain can cause unpleasant symptoms that limit the quality of life. At some point, a doctor or surgeon may recommend a procedure called laminectomy. This minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a game-changer in relieving chronic back pain.


How does the lamina cause back pain?

To understand the source of back pain, patients must first understand the spine’s layout. The spinal cord runs from the neck to the base of the lower back. This spinal cord is protected by bones called vertebrae that stack on each other. The lamina is the spiky back part of each vertebra and helps with the spine’s movement. Nerves branch out of the spine at different intervals through small spaces left by the bones. Sometimes, conditions like arthritis, degenerative discs, spinal stenosis, or injury place pressure on the nerves. The damaged or diseased bone presses on the nerves and leads to nerve pain, stiffness, and sciatic pain. Severe cases can cause weakness in the lower extremities and impact bladder or bowel function.

Back pain treatment options

In most cases, a doctor will attempt to address the issue without surgery. Some common treatments include pain management with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or stronger opioids. Physical therapy (PT) is another excellent option that can relieve pain. Massage, lifestyle changes, and occupational therapy (OT) can also help improve symptoms. More advanced, non-surgical treatments include steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), where the nerves are seared off using a catheter. RFA can also help confirm the reason for back pain, along with x-rays. Over time, these treatments can improve the patient’s quality of life.

Are you a candidate for surgery?

There are cases where back surgery may be recommended. For example, if non-surgical options fail or no longer bring relief, surgery can help. In most cases, the pain will be so severe that the patient’s daily activities are affected. Additionally, if the patient has significant back pain, leg pain, and weakness, the doctor may want to take immediate action. The ideal patient should also have no pre-existing illness, injury, or infection that may impact surgery or recovery.

Time for laminectomy

Using minimally invasive surgery (MIS), a laminectomy can be performed for patients with ongoing back pain to bring long-term relief. The goal of the procedure is to remove part of the bone in order to relieve the pressure on the nerves. With MIS, the surgeon uses a small incision to insert a special camera to view the damaged bone. Additional small incisions allow surgical tools to enter and cut away the bone or disc material. The surgeon will carefully remove part of the lamina and then close the incisions. MIS also allows the patient to leave on the same day as there are fewer complications.

A better back today

Laminectomy often requires 8-12 weeks of recovery and PT before patients can return to regular activity. However, MIS can reduce this timeline due to less pain and smaller incisions. Studies show that 85-90% of patients experience significant relief after recovery. A laminectomy continues to be an excellent option for long-standing pain.

More Articles from MVSC