If you’re suffering from back pain as a result of degenerative disc disease, there are several factors you should consider before undergoing a lumbar disc replacement. In addition to considering the risks involved with surgery, you need to consider your own specific needs to choose an option that will best serve your needs and comfort level. Here are just some of the things you should think about before committing to lumbar disc replacement surgery.
1) Understand the Surgery
Certain types of lumbar disc surgery can be performed through the front opening of the abdomen, under local Anesthetics (blocks), or by a general anesthetic. The latter is recommended for those with serious back disorders, as this method allows patients to be completely conscious during the operation.
2) Understand the After Effects
This kind of major surgery can cause intense pain in the lower back. It’s important to understand that substantial recovery time is involved in returning your body to normal after such a procedure. You should expect a lot of temporary pain and discomfort in your lower back for several weeks after surgery before you begin to find relief.
3) Understand the Risks
Lumbar disc replacement surgery is a relatively safe procedure with very few risks. The biggest risk is an infection, which can easily be eliminated by a qualified, experienced surgeon who uses the latest techniques and technology. You also have to consider that you could have life-threatening reactions to the anesthesia or other medicines related to the operation.
4) Understand Your Needs
Thinking about your own needs before committing to lumbar disc replacement is very important. If your back pain is only going to affect you for 2 or 3 months, then it may not be worth the potential risks involved in undergoing surgery just for temporary relief from discomfort. In the long run, surgery can negatively affect bone density, muscle, and nerve function, as well as potential cognitive disorders.
5) Understand Your Budget
Lumbar disc replacement surgery can be extremely expensive. You’ll have to pay for a surgery center, an operating room, and the cost of anesthesia and doctors for the recovery period. You may also be required to pay for an expensive patient-specific machine that allows you to operate a computer from your bed to track pain levels, heart rate, and circulation.
6) Understand the Recovery Process
The recovery process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the type of lumbar disc replacement performed. Patients who undergo anterior disc replacement experience the shortest recovery time and are expected to be able to resume normal activities after a few weeks, while those who undergo posterior disc replacement surgery typically require an additional 6 to 12 weeks of recovery time.
Before committing to a lumbar disc replacement surgery, it’s important to understand your needs and the potential risks you are taking on. The best option is a conservative treatment such as non-surgical or less invasive procedures that take the same amount of time and may even be a better choice in many cases.