What is spinal surgery?
Spinal surgery is a surgical procedure performed anywhere along the spine, from the top of the neck to the base of the lower back. It is carried out by a neurosurgeon with the aim of treating a problem in the neck, upper back or lower back.
Minimally-invasive spinal surgery
This type of surgery involves making small incisions to gain access to the structures being operated on. It can be used for cases such as slipped discs or trapped nerves resulting in back pain and/or sciatica (pain radiating down the back of the leg).
Where this approach can be used, it often results in less muscle damage from the surgery, less scarring, reduced pain following the operation, and a faster recovery time.
Complex spinal surgery
This involves more extensive surgical techniques to treat complex spinal problems. Examples include reconstruction for major spinal deformity such as scoliosis (where the spine twists and curves to the side), and following trauma or vertebral fractures.
Complex surgery is also needed in the treatment of cancers and metastatic lesions (areas of cancer spread) that can arise from other types of cancer.
Which conditions may require spinal surgery?
Many spinal problems can be treated effectively using physiotherapy and medications or injections. However, some causes of spinal problems require surgery to relieve symptoms.
Some causes of back pain can be treated with a spinal fusion procedure (where two or more vertebrae are fused together into a single, solid bone), or through surgical stabilisation of the lower spine.
These procedures are targeted at treating back pain that is caused by instability of the lower back, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within the spine), general wear and tear of the spine, or fractures.
This is caused by a pinching of the sciatic nerve from the spine. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of the leg, so pinching of this nerve causes a characteristic shooting pain down the back of the legs. Surgery to remove any small bony spurs or a bulging disc that may be pinching the sciatic nerve can provide relief.
Sometimes the discs between the vertebrae in the spine can degenerate, causing pain and reduced movement. Surgery can be performed to remove the degenerated disc and replace it with a prosthetic disc.
What are the risks associated with spinal surgery?
As with every surgical procedure, there are a number of risks to consider. The neurosurgeon will be able to discuss these in detail, and help weigh up the risks and benefits of having the surgery.
The potential risks during surgery include:
- Allergic reaction to any of the medications given as part of the general anaesthetic
- Neurological damage (resulting in numbness, tingling, weakness or pain following spinal surgery)
- Excessive bleeding during the procedure
- Very rarely, paralysis or death can occur.
Some of the general issues to be aware of following surgery include:
- Pain - both over the incision site and from the surrounding muscles and tissues. This is often reduced following minimally-invasive spinal surgery Infection – This can occur at the site of the surgery itself or rarely, at other sites in the body
- Increased risk of developing a blood clot, this is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In rare cases, the clot travels to the lungs, causing a serious problem called a pulmonary embolism
- Excessive bleeding from the wound
Unresolved symptoms: Sometimes, despite undergoing spinal surgery, it is possible for the initial symptoms to come back, or even get worse.
Our specialist experts, anaesthetists and their teams are very experienced and will do their best to minimise any risks. They will discuss all the risks and benefits to individuals before surgery and be on hand to answer any questions.
Following surgery, if any unexpected symptoms are experienced, or problems persist or worsen, then patients are advised to make contact with their specialist teams immediately.
How long does it take to recover from spinal surgery?
Most people stay in hospital for three to seven days following spinal surgery. The length of stay often depends on the patient’s health prior to surgery, as well as their pain levels following the surgery.
A full recovery depends on the initial symptoms and the type of surgery that was performed.
We are also able to offer an extensive range of expert-led physical therapies to accommodate all health needs both before and after the surgery:
- Physiotherapy, including specialised therapies such as aquatic rehabilitation, exercise therapy, clinical Pilates, women’s health physiotherapy, falls prevention, and strength and conditioning coaching
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation
- Specialised rehabilitation services for vestibular (balance) disorders and breathing disorders
- Complementary treatments, including acupuncture, osteopathy and clinical massage therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Special assistive technologies such as the Biodex isokinetic system, AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, extracorporeal shockwave therapy and electrotherapy.
Why choose The London Clinic
Excellence in one place
We operate as teams of experts with world-class resources dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of medical care. You are surrounded by the latest treatments and advice with everything you need to get back to your best health.
Personal care, every time
Exceptional patient care is a way of life for us. Our nurses, clinicians and support teams are dedicated to the care of a very small number of patients, so have more time for you. They’ll be with you every step of the way, tailoring your care around you and giving the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re in the best hands.
We work together as one to guide you through each step of your experience, with complexities unravelled and answers readily to hand. Your personal treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
What's included in your package?
Choosing The London Clinic means your treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
Your treatment package will include:
- Enhanced pre-admission assessment
- Your treatment with our complete care team at your fingertips
- Personalised aftercare and follow-up
We want you to be in control of your health. That’s why we also offer optional services such as comprehensive recovery packages and extra touches for you to choose from during your stay with us.
How to pay
- You can use private medical insurance (PMI) to access this treatment. We work with all major PMI providers in the UK and many internationally
- You can pay for yourself (self-pay)
- If you’re paying for yourself, we have finance options available with Chrysalis