For many patients suffering from chronic back pain due to herniated discs, arthritis of the spine, damaged vertebrae, or other spinal conditions, daily living can be challenging at best and downright agonizing at worst. More often than not, persistent and debilitating back pain is accompanied by decreased quality of life, a loss of independence, and even depression.
“When conservative treatments fail to improve one’s symptoms, outpatient procedures have proven to be an effective way for patients to reclaim their previous form and quality of life,” says Anuj Prasher, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., a board certified orthopaedic surgeon at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
Many patients over 50-years-old start to develop spinal conditions in the low back caused by aging and natural wear and tear. These degenerative spine conditions can be aggravated by being overweight, awkward lifting techniques, and other lifestyle factors that place added stress on the vertebrae, discs, spinal joints.
The Benefits of Outpatient Spine Procedures
According to Dr. Prasher, outpatient procedures available at the South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine surgery center or at the office provide a myriad of benefits to patients including:
- A lower risk of infection
- Improved patient comfort
- Reduced cost
- Higher effectiveness
- Patients can go home the same day
“Outpatient procedures allow you to sleep in your own bed, and eat your own food,” says Dr. Prasher. “You will not be bothered by noisy neighbors or people waking you up in the middle of the night as can happen in some inpatient settings.”
“In some instances, outpatient surgery is associated with lower costs than being in an inpatient setting,” continues Dr. Prasher. “Some of the procedures that I perform in the outpatient center are lumbar laminectomies for spinal stenosis, microdiscectomy for herniated discs, single level cervical spine fusions and in some instances, minimally invasive lumbar fusions.”
Outpatient options are not limited to surgery. In some cases, non-surgical procedures can help patients overcome degeneration or injury to the spine. “The other types of procedures we can perform in the office setting include epidural injections for pain and kyphoplasty to treat compression fractures related to osteoporosis,” says Dr. Prasher.
“These procedures have the same benefits as in the outpatient center and patients can go home the same day; hopefully with significant pain relief. All procedures are safely performed in an outpatient setting with no added risk to the patient. The benefits are lower infection rates and improved patient comfort at home.”
Treating Chronic Back Pain with Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion Surgery
Also performed in an outpatient setting, minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery can treat a host of spine conditions including:
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Bone spurs
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
Dr. Prasher notes that modern, minimally invasive surgical techniques are leaps and bounds ahead of traditional open lumbar fusion surgery. “Traditionally lumbar fusion surgeries were done through larger incisions, which disrupt a lot of the normal musculature of the spine,” says Dr. Prasher. “They also involved larger amounts of blood loss, increased amounts of postoperative pain, and longer hospital stays.”
“With newer technology and modern techniques, we can perform minimally invasive surgery with much smaller incisions, less operative time, less blood loss, and shorter hospital stays. And in some instances, we can perform the procedure in an outpatient setting. For the patient, that means a quicker recovery, faster return to sports and other activities, and overall a much better outcome than the traditional open surgical method.”
Case Study: Spondylolisthesis
According to Dr. Prasher, a spinal condition known as spondylolisthesis is responsible for the deterioration of essential vertebrae in the lower back. “Spondylolisthesis, which is Greek for a slipped spine, is a degenerative condition that affects the vertebrae number four and number five in the lower spine,” says Dr. Prasher. “What happens is that the vertebrae start to shift forward. As they start to move forward, they pinch some of the nerves in the back of the spine and cause spinal stenosis or sciatica.”
Watch here as Dr. Prasher uses an actual MRI scan to describe how the condition manifests, how it affects the spinal column, and the results after having undergone minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery.
“Minimally invasive lumbar fusion accomplishes the same goal as the traditional open techniques. It employs those small incisions and improves the alignment of the spine fixing this person’s problem and getting them back to their normal lifestyle as soon as possible.”
Recovery After Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion Surgery
Every patient’s recovery time will depend on their unique medical history, the scope of the problem, and lifestyle. Most minimally invasive spine surgery patients go home the same day and feel an immediate improvement in their symptoms. A spine surgeon will often recommend physical therapy to help strengthen the spine and optimize one’s return to work and daily activities.
“After surgery, generally the recovery is somewhere between four to six weeks,” says Dr. Prasher. “People are typically up and walking that same day, and usually, right after the procedure, you have a significant improvement in the sciatica-type pain in the legs. Generally, at about six weeks, you can gradually return to normal activities. Full recovery is achieved within three months where you can return to unrestricted activity and without insignificant pain or sciatica-type symptoms.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, or any other degenerative condition of the spine and are curious to see if you would be a good candidate for an in-office or outpatient surgery, please feel free to contact us. We can discuss what your options are to get you back to an active lifestyle as soon as possible.