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Persistent back pain is often the result of mechanical issues in the spine, and it can be burdensome to the millions of people who experience it. Those who lead active lifestyles are particularly impacted, as spine pathology can impose serious restrictions on movement. Fortunately, advances in medical technology have improved treatment for back pain, and among these recently developed treatments is minimally invasive spine surgery.

In minimally invasive spine surgery, the goal is to address mechanical issues in the spine while minimizing tissue damage and promoting the body’s inherent healing capacity. Like traditional open surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery is used to treat conditions such as spinal stenosis, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, degenerative scoliosis and spinal tumors, but it differs in its approach.

To reach the site of the spinal issue, the surgeon uses dilation technology to move aside muscle tissue, rather than cut through it. A fiber optic tube with a light and a lens, known as an endoscope, may be used during the operation. Dilation technology and endoscopy offer the surgeon unique physical and visual access to the site of operation, giving minimally invasive spine surgery several benefits that make it an attractive choice for those experiencing back pain.

Less Pain

One of the most prevalent issues with traditional open surgery, in which a large incision exposes the surgical site, is that muscles are retracted, which can harm the tissue and even result in permanent muscular damage. Minimally invasive spine surgery, on the other hand, involves smaller incisions and causes less tissue damage.

As a result, patients who undergo minimally invasive spine surgery generally report less pain and require less pain medication than those who undergo more traditional procedures. In addition, there is typically less blood loss in minimally invasive spine surgery, further reducing the stress inflicted upon the body.

With minimally invasive procedures, what would normally be a traumatic event for the area surrounding the surgical site is less impactful, therefore making the surgery a more comfortable experience for the patient. You are still likely to experience some pain after the operation, but it will be much more manageable than if you had chosen a traditional approach.

Faster Recovery

Long-term outcomes of minimally invasive spine surgery are excellent. Short-term outcomes have confirmed that minimally invasive spine surgery is associated with a shorter stay in the hospital and a faster return to full activity. An important reason for this is the reduced trauma to surrounding tissue. By using dilation technology, muscle and nerve tissue is highly preserved and is more capable of recuperating after the operation.

In fact, some patients make a return to full activity in as little as a few weeks. This timeline can change depending on your particular condition and lifestyle, but minimally invasive spine surgery combined with a proper regimen of rest and physical therapy often leads to a strong outcome.

Reduced Risk of Complications

As mentioned before, minimally invasive spine surgery relies on smaller incisions and consequently carries a lower risk of infection. Also, due to the faster recovery rate, patients gain mobility more quickly after surgery and are therefore at lower risk for deep vein thrombosis, an issue that surgeons sometimes report after spine surgery.

It is important to note that minimally invasive spine surgery is a highly complex procedure that requires the surgeon to have extensive technical knowledge. Complications may arise if the surgeon is not properly trained in all the equipment and its use, so it is important to confirm the experience of your surgeon.

However, take note that technical lapses are a risk of any surgery, and while minimally invasive spine surgery is highly technical, it generally has a lower complication rate than traditional operations.

Quicker Operation

The technicality of minimally invasive spine surgery results in a learning curve. While a surgeon is gaining experience with the technology and the procedure, it may take longer than open surgery. But as he or she becomes increasingly familiar, the operation becomes more efficient and usually takes the same amount of time or less time than an open surgery.

Doctors and operating room staff must undergo extensive training in order to perform minimally invasive spine surgery, and so it takes a significant commitment from a hospital and its staff to begin offering this procedure. But the commitment pays off. Increased efficiency means you, the patient, will spend less time under anesthesia and less time with open incisions, which adds to the reduced risk of complications.

Closing Thoughts

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a promising treatment, but it is important to acknowledge the complexity of spinal pathology. Just as no two people lead the same exact lives, no two cases of back pain are the same.

It is recommended that you discuss your health and your lifestyle with a medical professional so that you two may develop a complete understanding of your needs and how best to meet them. You should also read up and try to become as informed as possible regarding the risks and benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery so that you are better informed and more prepared to ask your doctor questions.
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