The outcome of surgery in elderly patients remains poor in most cases. The common factors, for this reason, our frailty, late diagnosis, delayed consultant-led treatment, pre-existing comorbidity, and polypharmacy. For surgery of the back in older people, there is no guarantee that the patient will be relieved of pain. There are many other viable options than surgery that are more effective and painless. Being said so, spine surgery has many risks, including:
- Blood clots
- Reaction to anesthesia or other drugs
- Herniated disc
Nerve damage, which could lead to pain, sexual dysfunction, weak bladder or bowel control, weakness and paralysis
Out of all these factors, the biggest risk for spine surgery is not knowing whether it would relieve you of the pain.
Types of spine surgeries and their cons
This type of surgery is mostly done for chronic nonspecific back pain with degenerative changes in older people. In this surgical procedure, the surgeon joins vertebrae, the spinal bones, together. This surgery limits the motion between the bones and restricts nerves from stretching too far. Even though it is rare, the bones do not always unite together. Smoking can further make problems for this problem. If you experience complications after the surgery, you might need to undergo another.
For the lumbar spinal stenosis, laminectomy is a common surgical procedure that removes parts of the bone, spurs, and ligaments from the spine. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve pain, weakness, and pressure from the spinal nerves; however, the operation can make your spine unstable.
This surgery is done to relieve the patient of pain from a compressed nerve in the spine. The bone at the side of the vertebrae is cut away to make room for nerves that exit your spine. The widened space may relieve you of the pain; however, it may make your spine unstable. Just like other surgeries, this one also has risks. Surgeons perform a spinal fusion after this surgery as well. This will not only add to the risk factors but also increase recovery time.
Sometimes the disk can slip out of its place from between the vertebrae, which causes pain in the back. In Diskectomy, the surgeon removes all or part of the disc by making a large or small cut in your back. Often discectomy includes surgeries like foraminotomy, spinal fusion or laminectomy.
In this process, the surgeon removes the flawed spinal disc and replaces it with an artificial one. There is a chance that the new disc may slip or come out of place and require repair.
In this surgery, a U shaped device is inserted between two vertebras in your lower back. Even though this surgery is better than the spinal fusion, it may not allow the patient to bend backward.