When you suffer any sort of back pain or injury, visiting a chiropractor should be your first course of action. Chiropractors take a natural and safe approach to caring for the spine, focusing on keeping the spine properly aligned so that the nervous system can function optimally and keep the body healthy. Typically, chiropractors are able to use gentle spinal adjustments to restore alignment, sometimes working with physical therapists. But in some cases, chiropractors may recommend you search for “orthopedic surgeons near me” for relief. Typically, this will be the case only when conditions become serious or are not responding to other treatments. Read on to see some reasons a chiropractor may refer you for surgery.
Your spine is made up of vertebrae stacked on top of one another, and between these bony vertebrae are rubbery, soft cushions that prevent the bones from causing friction. During an injury, these discs can be knocked out of place, causing them to press tightly against spinal nerves and impact its function, often causing pain. Even without a traumatic event, these discs begin to degenerate as they age with us, which can lead to similar issues. When a disc is bulging, herniated, or ruptured, you can experience severe pain and trouble using your back and legs. Many of these issues can be resolved with regular chiropractic care, but in severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.
An orthopedic surgeon near you can perform a discectomy, in which the herniated portion of a disc is removed, relieving irritation and inflammation in the compressed nerve. Often this also entails removing a portion of the vertebrae to provide access to the affected disc.
When a disc is injured or degenerated beyond this type of repair, you may be referred for a spinal fusion or to receive artificial discs. In order to stop painful movement between vertebrae, they can be permanently connected, adding stability to the spine and reducing movement. Some doctors will instead place artificial discs between the vertebrae, but this is a newer technology that is not always as effective as the traditional spinal fusion.
Narrowing of the Spinal Canal
Arthritis that appears in the back can lead to the creation of bone spurs on your spine. This excess growth of bone often impacts the hinge joints near the back of the spinal column, narrowing the amount of space available for nerves to pass through openings in your spine. A similar narrowing can occur when someone suffers from spinal stenosis, in which the space is gradually reduced over time without the growth of bone spurs. Both cases can lead to pain as nerves are compressed and inhibited as they lose room for movement.
When this problem occurs, a common surgery is a laminectomy, in which portions of vertebrae are removed to make room for nerves as a form of spinal decompression. This can often entail removing ligaments and bone spurs that attribute to the narrowing as well. Once these barriers are removed, the spinal canal is enlarged and nerve pressure can be released, leading to less pain. Spinal decompression can also happen when a spinal disc is removed entirely in a discectomy, or in a procedure known as a foraminotomy. In the latter, the opening in the vertebrae that allows nerves to travel is enlarged.
An abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine is known as scoliosis and occurs in about 3% of the US population. The vast majority of people with scoliosis can use chiropractic care for pain management and for preventing the curve from worsening; however, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary. When this happens, a form of a spinal fusion can be performed that realigns the spine in a more straight form, allowing the bones to heal and fuse in a better position. Because scoliosis often worsens over time, it can be important to check in periodically and make sure the condition has not become so severe that surgery is needed.
Making the Best Decision
A chiropractor’s goal is always to reduce pain and improve your quality of life, and in most cases, this can be done through their natural adjustments paired with physical therapy and pain management. At AICA Orthopedics, our chiropractors work to achieve that goal while also being a part of a team that includes orthopedic surgeons and other specialists. This network of practitioners allows us to work with patients to develop the safest and most effective treatment plans for them, based on their individual needs. Whether you would like to speak with a chiropractor about potential solutions or are in need of a skilled orthopedic surgeon near you, contact AICA Orthopedics today for your first consultation.