There goes another one, limping, hobbling and grimacing in pain as they walk past me on the street. It hurts me to see so many people suffer with back and neck pain, either from scoliosis, spinal stenosis or a variety of other spinal conditions. But I know why. They know they need surgery and they are scared. They are scared of the long hospital stays, too much time away from work, the big incisions, the big ugly scars, never wearing a bikini again, the anesthesia, the painful recovery, the physical therapy.
Patients are understandingly scared of big old-fashioned back surgeries. My friend’s mother put off knee surgery for more than 10 years. She limped around and walked down the stairs backwards for years before she finally went in for surgery. A year after the surgery she’s walking and taking the stairs without a problem. “I should have done this 10 years ago, when I was 62. I could have been pain-free, enjoying my grandkids more and exercising all this time.”
But today, with minimally invasive spinal surgery (MIS), many of these things have changed. Cutting edge technology and new surgical procedures now allow a much faster recovery for spine surgery. Long hospital stays and big ugly scars are no longer the norm, especially if you seek out a doctor that has mastered MIS techniques. Many spine surgeries can now be done outpatient, which means you can go home the same day! The incisions are so small, and the pain is so much less with MIS surgeries, that patients recover much faster than traditional spine surgeries. MIS incisions are tiny, often as small as a penny. So you can wear your bathing suit without a hundred question about your scar.
The reason that minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS) allows smaller incisions and faster recovery is that MIS does less damage to the muscles and tissues in the area surrounding the surgery site. In the past, it was common to make big incisions and cut through important tissues like muscle, tendons, ligaments and even remove some tissue and ligaments. Now, MIS doctors pinpoint the problem area using MRIs and X-rays and use sophisticated instruments to avoid damaging surrounding tissue.The result is shorter hospital stays, less pain, less blood loss, fewer infections and faster recovery. It’s also less expensive!
Many spine surgeons in Tulsa do not perform MIS for spine because it requires additional time and training to master, and the surgeon will make less money. I do not believe that money should direct a patient’s care.