As we age, our bodies change, and not in a positive way. Deterioration impacts many parts of our bodies, and perhaps none as much as our spine. The spine is vulnerable to numerous conditions associated with aging: lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve roots that emanate from it. This causes pain that increases as the narrowing progresses. Other patients suffer from bony growths and herniated discs that put pressure on nerves and cause significant discomfort.
Facing pain at an earlier age, most people would be open to surgical options, but as we age the idea of surgery tends to be something that people shy away from. There is significant fear of the impact of anesthesia on older patients, as well as the effect that other health issues may create. But the introduction of minimally invasive surgery has made spinal surgery a reality that offers the elderly real relief and big improvements in their quality of life.
Minimally invasive spine surgery provides older people countless benefits over traditional surgical techniques. Where traditional spine surgery involves surgical incisions that are five-to-ten inches long, minimally invasive procedures make incisions that are just one-to-two inches long. This means minimal blood loss, lower risk of infection and faster recovery. Most important of all, minimally invasive surgery has much less risk of adverse effects after the surgery is over.
The surgery involves moving tissue and muscle away rather than cutting through it, and therefore healing takes less time. There is less of a chance of patients’ other medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease, playing a role in their recovery, and a much lower chance of developing blood clots.
Patients are able to have the procedure in an outpatient setting rather than having to be in an unfamiliar hospital setting overnight and can usually return home the same day and recover in the comfort their own, familiar home environment.
When elderly patients undergo a minimally invasive surgery, they generally are able to recover more quickly and return to their normal daily activities within two weeks. Part of the reason for this is the lack of trauma to the muscles, tissue and skin, and part is that the procedures usually involves less involvement of the lamina, less blood lost and shorter surgery time.
If you are advanced in years and experiencing significant back pain, minimally invasive spinal surgery may offer you the relief you seek. The procedures are considered much safer and less intrusive than traditional surgery, and are particularly appealing for those who are in good health and who are cleared by their physicians for surgery. Most patients will be able to return to exercise and normal activities in a short period of time and go on to experience a high quality of life into their golden years.
For more information on whether you are a candidate, contact our office today.