When Is Back Surgery Appropriate for Chronic Pain?

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Chronic back pain can ruin many aspects of life for people. From not sleeping well, to struggling at work, to not being able to traverse throughout the house – these are all things that can be difficult to deal with when back pain becomes too great. It can make life miserable. As an added disadvantage, prolonged pain can also lead to physically damaging the back and other parts of the body.

When these things collide, then deciding to have back surgery might be an unavoidable consideration. Yes, medication and physical therapy can help with back pain, but they can only do so much and go so far to help patients. Sometimes, it is the only treatment method that can produce long-lasting results. Many doctors suggest back pain as a choice for resolving back pain. However, surgery should only be performed in certain situations.

Compression Due to Osteoarthritis

Nerve compression can be one of the reasons behind back pain, and it can be fixed with surgery. More often than not, nerve compression happens as a side effect of osteoarthritis. In this case, a bone overgrowth occurs and builds up along certain points on the spine. This situation causes the space between nerves to shorten, which creates added pressure on the nerve. Therefore, pain occurs.

Disc Injuries

A common reason for back surgery is disc injuries. The discs are soft-tissue cushions that sit along the spine. They keep vertebrae and other bone structures in the spine from sliding out of place. Sometimes, these discs can bulge, slip, or rupture. Sometimes, this occurrence happens due to injuries, and other times it happens as a result of aging. However, repair can be done surgically. When repair is not enough, the discs can be replaced altogether.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is another cause of much pain in the spine. This cause also happens as a result of aging, and surgery is often the appropriate answer to dealing with the pain that results from it. With spinal stenosis, the discs begin to flatten over time, which closes the gap between vertebrae. This gap can be widened again with surgery to avoid more bone spurs from developing and to prevent ligaments from slipping into the spinal cord. Surgery for spinal stenosis can improve walking, removing a heavy feeling from the legs, and end a great deal of continual leg pain.


One major source of back pain is scoliosis. When the spine curves 45 to 50 degrees in either direction away from the normal position, surgery is considered the only answer. The curvature of the spine can also cause many of the problems mentioned previously. Realigning the spine surgically is often the only choice to fixing the problem. In some cases, it is also the only way to prevent the spine from curving more. Surgery for scoliosis results in what is called a spinal fusion. Essentially spinal fusion surgery welds small bones throughout the spine together for the sake of correcting their position permanently.

Back pain can be life altering. It ruins so many enjoyable aspects that people enjoy, and even simple tasks like getting out of bed in the morning and obtaining a good night’s sleep can become dreaded parts of the day. When pain medication and physical therapy are not enough, surgery is often the only answer. Do not spend another day in pain, especially when other methods of coping have failed. Contact Jeffery M. Epstein for a consultation today to begin a journey to a pain-free life.