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If you have low back pain or leg pain coming from your back, you have many different treatment options. Sometimes, symptoms of sciatica and low back pain respond to conservative treatments such as physical therapy or injections. Occasionally, your back pain remains despite your best efforts at conservative treatment. When this happens, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. So, what is minimally invasive spine surgery? We’ll break it down for you.

The Goal of Spine Surgery

Low back pain and sciatica pain is often caused when structures in your spine pinch on the nerves that exit your spinal canal and travel down your legs. When this happens, you may experience different symptoms, including:

  • Back pain in the center or to one side of your spine.
  • Buttock, thigh or leg pain.
  • Tingling in your leg.
  • Weakness in your leg muscles.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may be a candidate for spine surgery. The main goal of the surgery is to take pressure off of the nerve or nerves that travel down your leg from your spine. During your surgery, your neurosurgeon will decompress the nerve that is pinched by carefully removing disc material, cartilage or bony overgrowth.

Some symptoms require immediate attention from a neurosurgeon. These symptoms may include sudden loss of the ability to urinate or to control your bowels or sudden weakness in your leg or legs. If this happens, contact your doctor right away – you may require emergency spine surgery.

The goal of minimally invasive spine surgery is the same as traditional spine surgery – decompress your nerves so you can eliminate your back and leg pain and return to your previous pain free, active lifestyle.

What Makes This Type of Surgery Different?

Traditional spine surgery requires that your surgeon make an incision in your back and then use instruments to retract your back muscles. Once this is done, he or she can visually inspect your back, and instruments can be used to cut away bone, discs or cartilage pinching the nerves coming from your spinal canal.

Minimally invasive spine surgery achieves the same spinal decompression but only requires a small incision and minimal retraction of your back muscles. Your spinal surgeon will then use specialized instruments to visualize your spine and to perform the spinal decompression for your nerves.

Thus, the goal of both surgical techniques is the same; decompress your spinal nerves to treat your back pain and sciatica to help you safely return to full mobility. The difference is in the method in which your surgeon achieves this goal.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

When compared to traditional open spine surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery offers superior benefits. These may include:

  • Decreased risk of infection.
  • Preservation of muscle function.
  • Decreased blood loss.
  • Improved healing time.
  • Less post-operative pain.
  • A faster return to your previous lifestyle.

Minimally invasive spine surgery helps treat your back pain and sciatica by decompressing your nerves. The procedure offers the same outcomes as traditional spine surgery with less pain, faster recovery time and rapid return to your previous lifestyle and activities. Therefore, it is typically chosen by people who are looking to quickly get back to their normal active work and recreational activities.

Finding the Right Surgeon

Not every doctor performs minimally invasive spine surgery. It requires specialized training and expertise, and many doctors simply do not want to take the time to learn these state of the art techniques.

When looking for a spine surgeon, ask if he or she performs this type of surgery. Your doctor should understand how your back pain and sciatica is affecting your active lifestyle and how the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery can help you quickly and safely recover.

If you are dealing with low back pain or sciatica and it is significantly impacting your active, on-the-go lifestyle, you may benefit from minimally invasive spine surgery. Speak with your doctor, and ask about the options available for your specific condition. Minimally invasive spine surgery may be the best option to help you quickly and safely return to your previous level of activity and function.
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