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London Bridge hospital carries out a range of spine surgery for a wide variety of back and spinal problems. If you have an infection of the spine, an inflammatory disorder, a congenital deformity, spinal tumours, or have fractured your spine, there are many options to consider and making an appointment with one of our specialist orthopaedic surgeons can help you decide on the best course of treatment. In many cases surgery will be the last option after other remedies and techniques have failed to bring results.
Common conditions treated include:
- Neck and lower back pain
- Trapped nerve causing leg pain (sciatica) and arm pain (brachalgia)
- Osteoporotic fractures
- Inflammatory disorders
- Scholiosis and kyphosis
- Injection therapies (facet injection, nerve root block, epidurals)
Further detail on some of the above conditions where spinal surgery can be useful are listed below:
Lumbar and cervical disc degeneration surgery
Lumbar disc degenerative disorder sometimes causes low back pain, which feels much worse when sitting. A fairly common complaint, it’s often sparked off by a twisting injury (such as when playing golf), but can also be due to the natural aging process.
Cervical disc degeneration is characterised by neck pain and can also be caused by injury or the natural aging process. Pain can often be reduced by lying down or reclining.
Treatment options for these two conditions start with conservative care; in other words, treatment you can do at home, such as ice or heat packs, special exercises, pain relief medication, and physiotherapy. If the pain has not been reduced or eliminated after six months of conservative treatment, and you can’t bear your own weight when walking or moving around, spinal fusion surgery can be considered. During the operation one or more vertebrae are welded (fused) together using bone grafts or metal parts, such as small cages, plates, rods, and screws.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the base of the spine, down the back of the thigh to the knee, where it divides into smaller nerve branches. People suffer shooting pains when the sciatic nerve becomes trapped or compressed at the point at which it leaves the spine. Often the pain will clear up by itself after a course of painkillers, anti-inflammatories and gentle exercise. You may require physiotherapy, and if it still won’t clear up, an epidural injection. In the rare cases where nothing seems to help, and after months of trying other remedies, you are still in great pain, various surgical options are available - from low-invasive microdiscectomies through to the more aggressive laminectomies and spinal fusion procedures.
If you’ve recently had a spinal injury and one of your vertebrae is fractured, a kyphoplasty operation can be performed to stabilise the bone and stop the pain. A small balloon-like device is inserted into the fractured vertebra and slowly inflated until the normal height of the vertebra is reached. This creates a cavity which is filled with special bone cement, increasing the strength of the vertebra, restoring its original height, and relieving the pain you feel.
The bones of your vertebrae run down the middle of your back protecting your spinal cord, and it’s vital for them to remain solid and functional. Similar to the kyphoplasty, the vertebroplasty operation involves injecting special bone cement into the fractured vertebra to restore its original height and stop the pain you feel.
These types of spine surgery are also options for people with vertebral haemangioma and painful vertebral body tumours (metastasis and myeloma).
Injection therapies (facet injection, nerve root block, epidural)
Severe spinal injuries and problems need not always mean you have to have an operation. There is an important role for various types of injection therapy to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. We perform epidural corticosteroid injections, nerve block injections, discography, cervical, lumbar and thoracic injections, soft tissue injections and spinal joint injection therapies, amongst others. Injection therapy is much less invasive than an operation and could help significantly relieve your back pain symptoms without the need for open surgery.
Spinal Stenosis (spinal decompression surgery)
In response to the natural ageing process, wear and tear, and/or an inherited predisposition, your spinal canal can become too narrow, compressing the nerves inside it and causing pain. This is known spinal stenosis. After all other treatments have been tried and failed, including physiotherapy, pain killers, anti-inflammatory medication, epidural steroid injection etc the final option is surgical decompression of the nerves. During this operation the spinal column is widened by removing a small section of bone, which releases the build up of pressure on the nerves inside the spinal canal.