August 24, 2018 by: Luis M. Tumialán, MD
Neurosurgery is a highly challenging surgical speciality which is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect any part of the central nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and the extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.
Back pain often produces neurological symptoms, and these can range from mild to severe, including:
- Unusual sensations in your body such as tingling or pin prickles
- Muscle weakness
- Mobility problems
- Loss of bladder and bowel function
If you have back problems and are suffering from neurological symptoms, then you may be recommended to have a surgical procedure that is actually classed as neurosurgery.
There are a number of different spinal procedures that come under the term ‘neurosurgery’ that are used to relieve back pain and treat the underlying cause. These include:
A discectomy can be performed anywhere along the spine from the neck to the lower back. It is a highly successful surgery with between 80-90% of patients achieving substantial relief from their discomfort and improvement in their condition. It is usually used to treat back pain caused by a herniated disc. This is a disc that has ruptured and is no longer able to provide sufficient cushioning in that area of the spine. The inner fluid that may have leaked out of the disc may also be irritating the surrounding nerves, causing pain and other neurological symptoms.
A discectomy procedure involves accessing and then removing the affected disc/s. This is done by first removing a section of the bone that forms the backside of the spinal canal and a protective roof over the spinal cord. This is called the lamina.A laminectomy can also be performed as a standalone procedure (see below).
A laminectomy is a type of surgery that is designed to create space in the spinal canal so that pressure is not placed on the spinal cord or nerves – a problem that can cause significant pain as well as a range of other neurological symptoms including changes in sensation and even loss of mobility. A laminectomy is also known as decompression surgery.
The exact cause of pressure inside the spinal canal can vary, but it is most commonly triggered by the development of bony overgrowths, known as bone spurs, which is often seen in patients with arthritis in their spine and those who are of senior age.
Spinal fusion surgery
Spinal fusion surgery is designed to join two or more vertebrae into one single structure. Once they have been fused, you will be prevented from stretching nearby ligaments and muscles that were previously causing you discomfort.
Spinal fusion is used to treat a range of different problems, all of which can cause neurological side effects such as pain, tingling, numbness and loss of movement in certain parts of your body. It is generally recommended for patients who suffer from:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord such as is seen in patients who also require a laminectomy)
- Spondylolisthesis, which is caused when a spinal disc shifts forwards out of alignment
- Spinal fractures
If you are experiencing back pain and other neurological symptoms, you could benefit from the expert advice and care of our experienced and knowledgeable neurosurgeon, Dr. Randall Porter. To arrange a consultation to assess your condition and discover the underlying cause of your discomfort, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our modern, comfortable offices here in Phoenix, AZ.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.