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When might surgery to the spine be a better option? A guide to some of the different operations.

As a spine surgeon, I understand that surgery is not always the first option for patients experiencing back pain or spinal conditions. At The Spine MDT, we take a comprehensive approach to spine care, and surgery is only recommended when conservative treatments have been exhausted, and the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks.

Here are some reasons why surgery may be a better option for some patients:

1. Severe pain not responding to conservative measures: If you are experiencing severe and persistent pain that is affecting your quality of life and this has not responded to simple conservative measures (e.g. rest, simple pain killers, physiotherapy, osteopathy etc), surgery may be the best option to alleviate your pain and improve your overall wellbeing.

2. Neurological symptoms: If you are experiencing neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs, surgery may be necessary to prevent further nerve damage.

3. Loss of mobility: If your spinal condition is causing a loss of mobility or function, surgery may be the best option to restore your mobility and improve your overall quality of life.

This of course all depends on your clinical assessment and diagnosis from your scan. I have developed a One-Stop Spine Clinic to help get to the root of the problem more directly.

Having had spine surgical fellowship training from both an orthopaedic and a neurosurgery background, I can offer a broader range of procedures including:

1. Microdiscectomy: A procedure where a surgeon removes a portion of a herniated disc in the spine, through a very small incision (approximately 2cm) under a powerful surgical microscope. This is necessary when a patient is experiencing pain radiating down the leg that has not responded to the above basic measures. This is usually caused by a disc pressing on a nerve root.



2. Minimally Invasive Fusion: Fusion surgery is a procedure where two or more vertebrae are fused together to provide stability to the spine. This is necessary when a patient has a spinal instability demonstrated on scans that can lead to nerve compression and damage. With newer techniques and image guidance this can also be carried out through very small incisions, minimising tissue damage and speeding up recovery when compared to traditional methods.

Fusion surgery


3. Cervical foraminotomy: If your are experiencing neck pain that travels through your shoulder and arm caused by a disc in your cervical (neck) spine, this may be a solution if conservative measures have failed or if you are experiencing loss of neurological function of your arm or hand. Like a microdiscectomy, this is also carried out under the microscope, allowing the incision to remain very small at the back of your neck.

Cervical foraminotomy


4. Minimally Invasive Posterior lumbar decompression. If you are experiencing pain in your back and legs that worsens when you stand or walk for a period of time, this could be due to narrowing of the spine with compression of the nerves (lumbar canal stenosis). If you have not improved with the above basic measures, then an operation through a very small incision in the lower back can create space around the nerves by removing some of the overgown tissue (from wear and tear) under the microscope.

Kyphoplasty: Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat vertebral compression fractures. In this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the compressed vertebra and inflated to create space. Then, cement is injected into the space to stabilize the vertebra.



Most of these procedures require no more than a single night in hospital, with some patients able to go home the same day!

At The Spine MDT, we believe in a multidisciplinary approach to spine care. That's why we work closely with physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and pain specialists to provide the most appropriate and least invasive treatment possible for our patients.

Our one-stop spine clinic ensures that patients receive an accurate diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment plan right from the start. We use advanced imaging technology to identify the root cause of the problem, and our team of experts collaborates to develop a customized treatment plan that is tailored to the patient's individual needs.

If you're experiencing back pain or a spinal condition, don't suffer in silence. Contact The Spine MDT today to schedule an appointment and learn more about our approach to spine care. With our comprehensive approach to care and cutting-edge surgical techniques, we're committed to helping our patients achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

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Our Locations

With our head office located in Northampton, we have access to a network of clinic locations throughout the UK.

In addition to face-to-face appointments, we also offer remote video consultations. Many hospitals have set up secure video consultation access via popular video platforms such as MS Teams or Zoom, and if required the appointment staff can help you to set up these consultations.

Primary Clinic Locations

Central London
9 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QY

BMI - Chelsfield Park Hospital
Private Consultations and Surgery
Bucks Cross Rd, Chelsfield, Orpington, BR6 7RG

Spire - Hartswood Brentwood
Private Consultations and Surgery
Eagle Way, Warley, Brentwood, CM13 3LE