Arthritis of the spine surgery — surgical methods for treating spinal osteoarthritis
Surgical treatment for spinal arthritis is typically recommended in cases where one or more conservative nonsurgical methods were attempted over the course of several weeks or months, but the patient is still experiencing chronic or acute pain and limited mobility. Nevertheless, the decision to undergo surgery is almost always elective. Depending on the severity of the condition, the most appropriate surgical treatment may involve decompressing a nerve structure, treating an arthritic spinal joint or possibly performing a spinal fusion.
Traditional open spine surgery for arthritis of the spine
Decompression surgery is a broad term describing procedures designed to relieve symptoms caused by pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord. During a decompression procedure, a surgeon typically removes the bone tissue, disc material or other displaced part of spinal anatomy that is putting pressure in order to relieve nerve compression symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the neck, back or extremities.
In more severe cases, spine conditions can cause spinal instability that may require more extensive surgery in the form of a spinal fusion. During a spinal fusion, a surgeon inserts bone grafts and other hardware into the spine to provide support and allow two or more vertebrae to grow together as a single section.
While they can be effective, traditional open spine decompression and fusion surgeries have several disadvantages. For instance, these highly invasive procedures are usually performed in a hospital setting and require overnight hospitalization. In order to view and access the spinal components, a surgeon must create a large incision that disrupts the surrounding musculature. As a result, a patient’s recovery and rehabilitation can be long and potentially difficult.
Minimally invasive decompression surgery
For certain patients, minimally invasive spine surgery can be an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Minimally invasive procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis with the use of muscle-sparing techniques. This results in a reduced risk of complications like infection and scarring as well as a shorter recovery period.^
At USA Spine Care our minimally invasive spine procedures involve a small incision and a series of dilating tubes to access the spine with minimal disruption to the surrounding tissue. Our surgeon then inserts direct visualization technology and micro-instruments to remove the bone or tissue that is causing nerve compression. After completing the procedure, the surgeon slowly removes the tubes to allow the muscles to slide back into place and then carefully closes the incision.
Minimally invasive decompression surgeries performed at USA Spine Care include:
- Foraminotomy. This approach may be utilized if bony matter, displaced disc material, scar tissue or excessive ligament development is blocking the spinal foramen. Formed by the spaces in between adjacent vertebrae, the foramina are canals – hollow archways through which sensitive nerve roots pass as they exit the spinal cord.
- Laminotomy. This procedure can relieve the symptoms of nerve root or spinal cord compression through the surgical removal of a portion of the lamina, the bony vertebral arch that surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The goal is to create more space within the spinal canal, which can reduce the pressure on neural tissue that is being encroached by the presence of displaced herniated disc material, bone spurs or inflamed facet joints within this limited area.
- Discectomy. A minimally invasive discectomy involves the removal of herniated or bulging disc material that is pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve root. Using small surgical tools, a surgeon can remove the displaced disc material to relieve painful pressure.
- Facet thermal ablation. Similar in theory to a dental root canal procedure, facet thermal ablation is performed to clean out a degenerated spinal facet joint and desensitize the associated nerve to relieve pain.
Minimally invasive stabilization surgery
If spinal fusion surgery is recommended to address arthritis of the spine, USA Spine Care’s minimally invasive stabilization surgery may be an option. Specific procedures include:
- Decompression with Interlaminar Stabilization™ device. A surgeon removes the source of the pressure, then inserts a coflex® device to help stabilize the spine and maintain the decompression without limiting the patient’s range of motion.
- Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF). A surgeon removes a degenerated disc, then prepares the remaining space for the placement of a bone graft stabilization and a small titanium plate.
- Cervical disc replacement. A surgeon replaces an unhealthy spinal disc with an artificial disc.
- Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). Accessing the spine slightly laterally (from the side) to minimize the movement of sensitive nerve roots, a surgeon inserts a bone graft and spacer into the empty disc space that has become unstable to encourage the fusion between two vertebrae.
- Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF). Accessing the spine laterally, a surgeon removes a portion of a degenerated disc, inserts a spacer to restore proper disc height and inserts bone grafts to help the adjacent vertebrae fuse together for enhanced stability.
- SI joint fusion. A surgeon accesses the SI (sacroiliac) joint where the base of the spine joins the pelvis and places a specialized implant designed to stabilize this heavily loaded joint.
- Posterior cervical fusion. A surgeon accesses the spine from the back of the neck and inserts bone grafts or implants to provide stabilization.
Reach out to USA Spine Care
USA Spine Care is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Since 2005 our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain. Our minimally invasive surgical treatments for spinal arthritis are performed in an outpatient environment and can directly treat an arthritic joint to relieve pain. The state-of-the-art technology used during these procedures is muscle-sparing and allows for a smaller incision compared to traditional open back surgery.
If you’ve been advised to consider surgery to treat arthritis of the spine, contact USA Spine Care today to learn more. We are happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.