Lower Back Pain and Surgery



Surgery to treat low back pain can be extensive. Usually, patients are given six to 12 months of more conservative treatment, such as physical therapy, before surgery is recommended for lower back pain.

Recovery is also extensive, taking anywhere from three to 12 months to return to routine daily activity. As with any surgery, success rates vary—in the case of lower back pain, a success rate of between 70 percent and 90 percent is expected, with the main variable being the specific condition being treated.

Osteoarthritis and more

Lower back pain is caused by several factors. In patients 55 and older, it is often caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) that might result in a narrowing of the canal (spinal stenosis) and/or instability of one vertebral segment, as this Spine-Health article explains. The article continues:

Generally, the low back pain and/or leg pain created by these back conditions will get worse with walking and will improve with sitting. Often, the symptoms will have been present for years, and may get worse at a very slow rate. Once a patient gets to the point that he or she can no longer adequately function because of the low back pain, lumbar decompression with or without spine fusion may be recommended to help increase the individual’s activity tolerance and quality of life.

Spine surgery is usually elective and follows many months of alternative treatment. However there are two scenarios that may require emergency back surgery. As Spine-Health explains:

  • Sudden bowel and/or bladder incontinence (either the inability to retain or hold waste) or progressive weakness in the legs. Either of these symptoms could indicate nerve damage or cauda equina syndrome.
  • Severe, continuous abdominal and back pain, which could indicate an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Our Spine Center experts handle all types of back pain, and provide a range of appropriate treatments, from physical therapy through surgery. If you’re suffering from back pain that is getting worse or won’t go away, contact us @ 540.347.9220 and let’s talk.  Visit to learn more about the comprehensive services offered at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center.

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