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Low back pain and sciatica can prevent you from living your normal, active lifestyle. Many times, you can manage your pain with exercises, postural correction or physical therapy. In some severe cases, you may require surgery to alleviate your symptoms and return to your normal activities.

There are different types and methods of spine surgery that your doctor may use to help you decrease your low back pain. One of the newest types of surgery for your back is minimally invasive spine surgery. Many patients are enjoying the benefits of this advanced surgical technique due to its many advantages over the traditional type of spine surgery.

The Goal of Spine Surgery

Low back pain and leg pain is typically caused by pressure or pinching on spinal nerves that travel down your leg or legs. Different structures in you spine may pinch on a nerve, including:

  • Herniated or bulging disc material.
  • Bony overgrowth from facet joint arthritis.
  • Degenerated discs.
  • Slippage of vertebra called spondylolisthesis.
  • Spinal stenosis.
  • Ligament thickening around the spine.

When any type of material crowds or pinches a spinal nerve, you may feel pain in your back, buttocks or down your leg.

When surgery is required for your condition, the main goal is to decompress the nerve that is pinched. By freeing the nerve, you can expect your back and leg pain to go away, and your ability to move freely will be restored.

Minimally Invasive Versus Traditional Spine Surgery

During traditional spine surgery, your doctor will make a large incision in your back. Then the muscles on either side of your spine will be cut and retracted to access your spine. Your doctor will visualize the spinal nerves and discs and use standard scalpels and tools to cut away material that is encroaching on your spinal nerve. Once the nerve is decompressed your muscles must be reattached together, and the incision will be held closed with stitches or staples.

Minimally invasive spine surgery involves using a much smaller incision when compared to traditional surgery. Through the small incision, your doctor will dilate the spinal muscles rather than dissecting them, and specialized instruments will be introduced into your spinal area to perform the decompression procedure. Once your nerves have been appropriately decompressed, the instruments are removed, and the tiny incision in your back will be closed.

Minimally invasive spine surgery offers many benefits over traditional spine surgery. These include:

  • Less risk of infection.
  • Less blood loss during surgery.
  • Shorter hospital stay.
  • Less need for extended periods of rehabilitation.
  • Improved mobility after the surgery.
  • Faster recovery times.

Since the spinal muscles are left largely intact during minimally invasive spine surgery, most patients undergoing the procedure recover much more quickly than those who choose traditional spine surgery. The goals of traditional and minimally invasive spine surgery are the same: to decompress your spinal nerves, decrease your pain and improve your overall mobility. The main difference between the two is that minimally invasive spine surgery is proving to be a safe alternative with faster recovery times, less risk of infection and improved function after surgery.

The Right Choice for You

If you are an active, on-the-go person who is feeling sidelined by low back pain or sciatica, and if your pain continues despite conservative treatments, you may be a candidate for spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery may be your best option to help you quickly return to your active lifestyle with less pain, less time lost at work and more mobility.

Remember that not every surgeon performs minimally invasive spine surgery; the procedure requires specialized training that some surgeons do not want to tackle. When seeking a neurosurgeon for your spine surgery, look for one that performs minimally invasive spine surgery. Making the right choice in surgical procedure, and in your surgeon, can ensure that you return to your full, pain free lifestyle quickly and safely.
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