1. What are the common causes of low back pain or neck pain?
Commonest causes are life style related such as sitting at a desk for long duration, lifting heavy weights, riding two wheelers on bad roads, lack of exercise in general. Smoking tends to aggravate spine degeneration and spondylosis. There can be serious conditions such as tumors and infections which will give rise to back or neck pain.
2. When should I visit a doctor for my back pain or neck pain?
You should meet your Doctor when the pain is severe, interfering with your routine
activities and occurs even during sleep. It is usually associated with sharp shooting pain
along the arm or leg. Pain associated with weakness or numbness or with urinary disturbances
needs urgent evaluation by
3. What are the common treatment options available?
The most scientifically accepted and proven methods are rest, physiotherapy and short term pain killers. Almost 50 to 60% patients respond to these measures in 1 to 2 weeks time. However continued physiotherapy and life style modifications are necessary to maintain spine in good health.
4. When do I need surgery for back or neck pain?
The most common condition that requires surgery is a disc prolapse in the cervical or lumbar spine causing severe pain, weakness or numbness. Surgery is offered only if the patient has not responded to medications and physiotherapy or if the patient has loss of function or sensation in the limb.
5. What are the types of surgery available?
The surgery for disc prolapse is called micro discectomy. It involves removal of the bulging disc and decompression of the nerve through a small 2 to 2.5 cm incision in the back.
6. Do I need screws and plates or rods for spine surgery?
Yes, in some cases, if there is slipping of the vertebral bones in the spine or in case of highly mobile areas of the spine. Screws and rods are inserted to add to the stability of the spine and prevent recurrence of symptoms. It also facilitates early return to work.
7. What are the types of investigation I will need for back or neck pain?
A routine x-ray is enough in case of only back or neck pain. In case of severe pain with weakness or numbness, an MRI scan is required. CT scan may be required to appreciate the bony changes in the spine. Bone scan may be required in suspected osteoporosis or tumors of the spine.
8. Is spine surgery dangerous?
No. With current levels of medical care and technology, spine surgery can be very safely performed, with remarkable results.
9. Can disc prolapsed recur after surgery?
Recurrence of the disc at the same level is very rare and uncommon. It may occur at other level, unrelated to surgery. It is more common in patients who have not had adequate rest following surgery, continue to have poor posture and do not exercise the back muscles regularly.
10. How long do I need rest after surgery?
You can start walking the very next day after surgery. It is advisable not to sit for long duration, bend, lift weights and avoid two to three wheeler rides for about 2 weeks after surgery.
11. Do I need to wear a belt or neck collar all the time after surgery?
No. Neck or spine braces are required only in case of spine fixation with screws and rods. One needs to wear them only while sitting or travelling for long duration.
12. Will I be able to perform all activities following spine surgery?
Yes. You can perform almost all activities after about 4 weeks of spine surgery. However it is advisable to adopt the right posture, perform regular and proper back strengthening exercises and avoid lifting heavy weights to prevent recurrences of the spine problems.
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