Am I a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery?
It is often said that a good surgeon knows when to operate while a great surgeon knows when not to operate. You should work closely with your NJ doctor before surgery to determine if you are a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. The first and most important question is whether your condition can be effectively treated with surgery.
The next most important question is whether surgery can be avoided by starting or continuing a non-operative treatment strategy. Finally, if your surgeon believes that surgery is your best option, it is critical to get an honest opinion as to whether your condition can be effectively addressed with a minimally invasive approach or whether you would be better of with a traditional “open” surgical approach.
While spine surgery can help a great variety of people of different ages and health statuses, there are some additional variables that help your doctor predict if you are an optimal candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery in the NJ and NYC area.
Variables that tend to indicate a more favorable outcome include:
- Symptoms related to nerve compression. Typically this involves pain that radiates from the spine to the arm or leg.
- An active, healthy lifestyle. If you are an active person who engages in regular physical exercise, you are likely to have a positive surgical outcome.
- A relatively recent onset of symptoms. If your back pain or leg pain has occurred within days to months, then you are more likely to be a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery than if your pain has existed for years. Chronic pain conditions may not have as favorable an outcome. This does not mean that you definitely won’t benefit from the procedure; it simply means that your prognosis is not as favorable.
- Not smoking. Smoking causes decreased blood flow to your spine. This leads to degeneration of discs and weakening of bones. It also inhibits healing and is particularly problematic in the healing of spinal fusions and may slow the healing process.
- Not being overweight. People with significant weight issues can have pain generated from excessive strain on their back muscles. This is not something that can be fixed with spine surgery. Also heavier people tend to have a higher rate of complications after spine surgery. Being significantly overweight however doesn’t definitely preclude you from being a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. This is particularly true if you have symptoms related to nerve compression.
In general, people who engage in an active, healthy lifestyle are typically the best candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery. The number one advantage of minimally invasive spine surgery over traditional “open” spine surgery is the ability to get you back to your life faster to enjoy all that New Jersey has to offer.
The decision to have spine surgery is an important one and one that you, your NJ family and your surgeon should take very seriously. Finding the right surgeon to perform your spine surgery is paramount. This can ensure that you are comfortable with your decision to have surgery and can give you confidence in your decision.
When presented with the option to have surgery, you will likely wonder if surgery is right for you. This is normal and common. How will the surgery affect your ability to work, care for your family or engage in normal recreational activities?
Everyone is different, and the answer to those questions is personal. For many common spine conditions, minimally invasive spine surgery may be the fastest way for you to return to your normal function and activity level.