If you’re researching laser spine procedures as an option to treat your back or neck pain, it can be helpful to learn and understand the benefits of laser spine surgery as they compare to open spine surgery before you make a final decision. These two approaches to surgery are similar in that the main goal is to relieve pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness caused by pressure on nerves in the spine. Several common conditions and anatomical abnormalities can cause spinal nerve irritation, such as a herniated or bulging disc, bone spur, osteoarthritis, or calcified ligament in the spine.
A laser spine procedure takes a minimally invasive approach and involves the insertion of an endoscope (camera with light), a laser, and small surgical tools through a small incision in the back or neck to access the affected area. An open spine operation, however, is highly invasive, requiring a large incision in the neck, throat, stomach, or back, the dissection of soft tissues to access the spine, and the removal of spinal anatomy where necessary.
Undergoing laser spine surgery means that you could enjoy benefits such as:
- No hospitalization – Laser spine procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, which means that you wouldn’t have to stay in a hospital overnight like you would have to following open spine surgery. In fact, you’ll likely be back on your feet within an hour or two of your outpatient procedure.
- A reduced risk for complications – The chance for developing complications, such as bleeding, infection, nerve damage, scar tissue buildup, and others is drastically reduced due to the less-invasive nature of laser spine surgery.
- Spinal mobility – Unlike open spine surgery, laser spine procedures typically involve the removal of a minimal amount of tissues to decompress a nerve root or the spinal cord, so the majority of the spinal anatomy stays intact. As a result, spinal fusion, which permanently fuses two vertebrae together and can significantly reduce spinal mobility, usually isn’t required.
- A quicker recovery – You’ll likely experience a faster and less arduous rehabilitation following a laser spine procedure than you would after undergoing open spine surgery. Many patients return to work and other normal activities within two weeks of a laser procedure, as opposed to several months after an open surgery.
If you’re considering undergoing surgery to treat your back or neck pain, consult your primary care physician or spine surgeon, and research all of the surgical options available to you. You may even consider getting a second opinion from a facility that specializes in laser spine procedures, where they can review your particular condition and let you know if you’re a candidate.