• Surgical Treatment Options

  • Surgical Treatment Options for Back and Neck Pain

    As an orthopedic specialty hospital, OrthoColorado focuses solely on caring for the critical components of your body responsible for movement and physical function.

    At OrthoColorado, our highly qualified spine care team works one-on-one with back and neck pain patients to determine the best approach to meet each patient's individual needs and goals. We offer a full scope of treatment options including activity modification plans, pain management medications, steroid injections, manual therapies, and surgery.

    Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons start first with conservative treatments, with the exception of rare cases where a condition requires immediate surgical intervention. For our patients who do require spine surgery, we offer traditional open spine surgery procedures as well as innovative minimally invasive spine surgery techniques.

    Our exceptional spine care team and state-of-the-art facilities have made us recognized leaders in spine care.

    We are the trusted experts for the following surgical spine treatments:

    • OrthoColorado is a state-of-the-art orthopedic specialty hospital that prides itself on offering patients the best medical treatment possible with the newest available technologies.

      Minimally invasive spine surgery brings us closer to realizing our goal of safely providing spine care patients with all of the benefits of surgery, and fewer of the drawbacks.

      Minimally invasive spine surgery utilizes microscopic instruments to perform the same types of procedures as open surgery, without the same level of disruption. The potential benefits include:

      • Smaller incisions and less scarring
      • Less pain
      • Shorter hospital stays
      • Reduced risk of infection
      • Less blood loss
      • Less damage to surrounding muscles and tissue
      • Quicker recovery times
      • Better outcomes

      Minimally invasive spine surgery is used most commonly at OrthoColorado to treat patients with herniated disks, pinched nerves, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis and traumatic instability of the spine.

      It is important to note that not all patients are good candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our spine care team considers it a viable treatment option for a patient when it can be used to accomplish the same surgical goals as open surgery.

      Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed using a high-tech microscope to work through a small retractor. Some of the retractors are smaller than an inch in diameter. These tools allow surgeons to access and address problem areas along the spine without having to drastically reposition surrounding muscles and tissues.

      Surgeons utilize live x-ray machines during the procedure to ensure proper navigation of their tools and proper placement of any necessary medical hardware.

      While open surgery requires an incision that is five to six inches in length, the incision needed for minimally invasive spine surgery can be less than one inch.

      In many cases, the incision used for minimally invasive spine surgery can even be smaller than that used for laser spine surgery. The procedure also allows surgeons to address issues that a laser may not be able to address.

      Technology and surgical techniques have evolved to the point where minimally invasive spine surgery is now a good option for an increasing number of spine conditions.

      A cervical discectomy or cervical fusion is a surgical procedure performed on the cervical (neck) region of the spine to help relieve pressure on nerves, and perhaps even the spinal cord itself. Over time, wear and tear, arthritis or an injury can damage the structures of the cervical spine resulting in pressure and irritation to nerves and nerve roots. This pressure can cause severe pain, discomfort, and numbness not only to the neck, but down the arms as well. During the operation, a small incision is made, usually in the front of the neck, and the surgeon removes the bony material or disc that is causing the problem. In most cases, the surgeon then fuses or joins together the affected vertebrae using bone graft or bone graft and a metal plate. Patients considering cervical fusion or cervical discectomy at the Denver area's only orthopedic specialty hospital can be confident in knowing that all members of our staff and team, from pre-operative care through recovery, are trained specifically in orthopedics. 

      Am I a Candidate for Cervical Discectomy and Fusion? 
      Frequent pain and/or numbness in the neck or down the arms will usually result in a visit to the doctor. A diseased or damaged disc in the neck is a common cause of this pain or numbness, and can happen for a number of reasons. Over time, a disc can wear and “flatten,” resulting in the vertebrae above and below the flattened disc to slide back and forth, or even touch. This can pinch or irritate the nerves causing pain and numbness. Another cause may be a sudden injury, resulting in a bulging out or herniating disc, causing pressure on the nerves and nerve roots. Bony growths (spurs) can also form, and further narrow the pathways through which the nerves must travel.

      What are the Alternatives to Neck Surgery? 
      Surgery is usually the last option considered. If your symptoms are mild, you may not require any treatment at all. Other conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications, and steroid injections may relieve symptoms for a time; however they usually do not permanently change the underlying cause of the problem. In some cases, cervical discectomy and fusion may be the only solution to remove irritation and create more space for the nerves.

      How Long is the Hospital Stay? 
      The time spent in the hospital after a cervical discectomy and fusion depends on several factors including your overall health and the extent of your particular surgery. Many people will return home after one to two days in the hospital.

      How Long Will it Take to Recover from a Cervical Discectomy and Fusion? 
      Recovery time after cervical discectomy and fusion varies depending on your particular situation, the number of levels involved, as well as your general health. The key to a successful recovery is maintaining a positive attitude. You will be able to take short walks while in the hospital, and need to gradually increase the distance and frequency of your walks once at home. If a fusion has been performed, it can take up to three months for the vertebrae to completely join together. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on activity levels, including when you can resume driving and return to work.

      The lumbar area of the spine is better known as the lower back. The lamina is a part of each vertebra. A lumbar laminectomy is the surgical removal of the lamina or part of the lamina on one or more of the vertebrae in the lower back. This is usually done to relieve pressure on nerves that may become inflamed from pressure caused by a narrowed spinal canal, bone spurs, or a herniated disc. Once the lamina is removed, the surgeon can then access the spinal canal and remove the source of irritation or pressure.

      Am I a Candidate for Lumbar Laminectomy at OrthoColorado Hospital? 
      Those seeking lumbar laminectomy in the Denver area and who suffer from frequent lower back pain and perhaps leg pain and numbness may in fact have a condition known as spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis describes the narrowing of the spinal canal in the area where the nerves and nerve roots exit the spinal column. This narrowing can occur as a result of arthritis in the spine, by calcium deposits, or by simply the wear and tear that occurs from repetitive stress on the lower spine. In addition, some people are born with a narrow spinal canal that becomes symptomatic as they age. The narrowing of the spinal canal may eventually cause pressure on the nerves and nerve roots that emerge from the spinal column. This irritation can result in pain and numbness, particularly after sitting or standing for extended lengths of time. Lumbar laminectomy may be suggested in order to make more room for the nerves or nerve roots. Another condition that is often treated with lumbar laminectomy is a herniated disc. The discs act as cushions or “shock absorbers” between the vertebrae. Part of the disc may herniate or bulge into the canal, again causing pressure to the nerves. Once the laminectomy is performed, the surgeon may then trim or remove whatever material is causing the irritation.

      What are the Alternatives to Lumbar Laminectomy? 
      Surgery is usually the last option considered. If your symptoms are mild, you may not require any treatment at all. Other conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications and steroid injections may relieve symptoms for a time; however they usually do not permanently change the underlying cause of the problem - the narrowing of the spinal canal. In some cases, lumbar laminectomy may be the only solution to remove irritation and create more space for the nerves.

      How Long is the Hospital Stay? 
      The time spent in the hospital after a laminectomy depends on several factors including your overall health and the extent of your particular surgery. Some people may return home the same day of surgery or after one day in the hospital

      How Long Until I can Return to Normal Activities? 
      Recovery time after lumbar laminectomy varies depending on your particular situation, the number of levels involved, as well as your general health. Key to a successful recovery is maintaining a positive attitude. You will be able to take short walks while in the hospital, and need to gradually increase the distance and frequency of your walks once at home. Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods and change your position frequently to help minimize back spasms and discomfort. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on activity levels, including when you can resume driving and return to work.

      The lumbar area of the spine is better known as the lower back. A lumbar fusion is an operation to stabilize the lower back by creating bony bridges between at least two vertebrae and eliminating motion between them. It can be done by fusing the vertebral bodies in front (anterior) or by fusing the facet joints and lamina in the back (posterior). Bone or bone substitutes can be placed on and between the lamina and the facet joints. Metal screws and rods or plates may be attached to the bones to secure the fixation while the bony bridge heals. During the operation, a four to five inch incision is made in your lower back and the muscles supporting the spine are divided. A small window is made in the sheet of bone (lamina) covering the spinal cord. Next, the surgeon removes any ruptured disc material or bone spurs that are pinching the nerves or spinal cord. The site is then prepared for fusion by obtaining bone graft and/or bone substitute and laying it on the bone. Metal screws and rods or plates may be attached to the bones to secure fixation while the bone heals. The operation typically takes two to three hours; however it may be longer, depending on the complexity of the problem and the number of vertebrae needing to be fused. Patients in Colorado considering lumbar fusion at the Denver area's only orthopedic specialty hospital can be confident in knowing that all members of our staff and team, from pre-operative care through recovery, are trained specifically in orthopedics.

      Am I a Candidate for Lumbar Fusion?
      Lumbar fusion may be recommended to treat a number of spine problems. However, the majority of people with these conditions will be successfully treated with conservative measures – that is, without surgery. Only after conservative measures have failed to relieve symptoms will surgery be considered. Problems that may be treated with lumbar fusion include:

      • Sciatica – Sciatica is one of the most common reasons for lumbar fusion. It is the irritation of a spinal nerve or nerves, usually by a herniated or bulging disc.
      • Spondylolisthesis – This term describes a particular type of abnormal movement of the vertebrae. With spondylolisthesis, one vertebra has slipped forward over another. If the vertebra continues to slip back and forth, the spinal nerves may be affected, causing leg pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness.
      • Degenerative Disc Disease – Age and wear and tear can cause the discs that act as cushions between each vertebrae to shrink, allowing abnormal movement. This abnormal movement can again result in an unstable area in the spine, and compress the nerves, causing leg pain and numbness.
      • Arthritis – Arthritis of the spine can lead to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal caused by bony spurs forming on the vertebrae, narrowing the openings through which the nerves and nerve roots must travel. Bone Graft Pedicle Screw Fused Vertebrae This narrowing can cause pressure on the nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling or weakness down the legs.

      How Long is the Hospital Stay? 
      The time spent in the hospital after a lumbar fusion depends on several factors, including your overall health and the extent of your particular surgery. Many people will return home after two to three days in the hospital.

      How Long Until I can Return to Normal Activity After a Lumbar Fusion? 
      Recovery time after lumbar fusion varies depending on your particular situation, the number of levels involved, as well as your general health. The key to a successful recovery is maintaining a positive attitude. You will be able to take short walks while in the hospital, and need to gradually increase the distance and frequency of your walks once at home. It can take up to three to four months for the bones to completely fuse together. During this time you may need to wear a brace to protect the operative area. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on activity levels, including when you can resume driving and return to work.

    • Spine Physicians

      Experts in Back & Neck Pain

      Our team of orthopedic spine surgeons represents an impressive level of training and experience in the full scope of back and neck conditions.

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