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Alternatives to Open Spine Surgery

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Alternatives to Open Spine Surgery

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Oct 23, 2018

There are a variety of treatments for spinal conditions that you can try before having to resort to surgery, especially the more invasive open spine surgery. The purpose of non-surgical treatments is to decrease pain, improve mobility, and prevent future spine problems. The sooner you seek treatment from Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, the greater your chances will be of eliminating your symptoms through conservative treatments. Often, a combination of treatments such as those explained here can resolve your spine issues without requiring open spine surgery.

Medication
Pain medication, anti-inflammatory medicine, and muscle relaxants are commonly prescribed to manage back pain. These may relieve symptoms so that you can recover and continue activities, although long-term use is usually not advised due to the risk for side effects. 

Injections
Epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, nerve ablations, and other types of injections offer relief for many back pain patients. Injections can reduce pain for a period of time, although they are not typically long-term solutions. This type of treatment is almost always used in combination with other therapies. Injections should be used when the root source of pain has been identified so that they can be targeted to the appropriate area.

Physical therapy
Even though it may be tempting to completely rest your aching back, exercise is actually crucial in recovery. Under the guidance of NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer or a qualified physical therapist, low impact exercise is recommended. The movements should be focused on your specific condition and symptoms, as all exercises aren’t right for every back patient. Some of the key elements of physical therapy for the back may include aerobic conditioning, stretching, flexibility, posture support, and core strengthening.

Lifestyle changes
Correct posture is an important aspect of a healthy spine, so learning to improve your posture and focusing on proper techniques can help. Weight management is another factor, as maintaining a healthy weight reduces pressure on your spine. It’s also a good idea to consult Dr. Fischer for diet suggestions that avoid highly inflammatory foods like refined sugars and processed foods, because it’s been proven that diet may contribute to chronic back pain. Giving up smoking is another important lifestyle change so that nicotine doesn’t delay healing or heighten your pain. Another tip is to know your body’s limitations and quit doing activities that you notice worsen your symptoms.

Alternative treatments
Massage, acupuncture, laser therapy, biofeedback therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation are examples of additional alternative treatments that may benefit your spinal health and reduce your symptoms. 

Minimally invasive surgery
After you and Dr. Fischer have tried non-surgical treatments for at least three to six months without improvement, it may be time to consider surgery. Even if you need surgery, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure instead of open spine surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is usually performed in an outpatient setting, requires a small incision, involves no unnecessary muscle tearing or scar tissue, has fewer risks of complications, and has a faster recovery. If you suffer from back pain, speak with Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center to see which conservative treatments can benefit you.


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