The type of spinal instability treatment you need will depend on the extent of your condition. Some patients may benefit from exercises or guided therapy with a physical therapist. If you have additional factors, such as compression fractures of the vertebrae, surgery may provide pain relief.
Your doctor may recommend any of these surgical approaches:
An anterior lumbar fusion surgical procedure fuses vertebrae to help ease your lower back and leg pain. It is generally done through an abdominal incision. Depending on how many vertebrae are fused, your spinal fusion surgery may take from three to eight hours. You will spend two to five days in the hospital after this surgery.
A cervical fusion surgical procedure fuses vertebrae to help ease neck and arm pain. Cervical fusion usually is performed through an incision in the front of the neck and generally takes from one to four hours, depending on how many vertebrae are fused. You typically will spend one day in the hospital after this procedure. Your neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon will provide guidance on when you can resume everyday activities.
For kyphoplasty, the surgeon inserts a small balloon through a needle in the vertebral space then inflates it to help make the vertebra taller. After the vertebra is lifted, the space is filled in with an acrylic, medical-grade cement mixture that hardens quickly and stabilizes the vertebra.
You may be able to start walking an hour after the procedure. You may feel some soreness where the needle was put into your back; this may last a few days. You may quickly notice that you have less pain in your back than you did before the surgery. Talk with your doctor about whether you should avoid any activities after the procedure.
This surgery fuses vertebrae to help ease your lower back and leg pain. Spinal fusion is performed through an incision in your back, and depending on how many vertebrae are fused the surgery may take from three to eight hours. You will likely be in the hospital for two to three days.
When a surgeon performs spinal fusion, he may need to put structures in place – called spinal instrumentation – to help steady the spine while the bone fuses. This fills the space left by the removed tissue. Recovery time depends on type of surgery (anterior lumbar fusion, cervical fusion, posterior lumbar fusion, scoliosis surgery) that is used in conjunction with spinal instrumentation.
Vertebroplasty is a procedure in which a special acrylic, medical-grade liquid cement is injected into a fractured vertebra and hardens quickly. When vertebroplasty is successful, the cement mixture injection stabilizes the vertebra and allows you to return to normal activity after a recovery period.
You may experience pain relief almost immediately after the procedure, but for some people it takes up to 72 hours. Your doctor may provide you with over-the-counter pain relievers to help ease the discomfort.