Many people are likely to ask this question if they’re considering laser spine surgery among other options. Here we’ll go over whether or not this procedure is worth your time and money based on its effectiveness.
What Exactly is Laser Spine Surgery?
Spine surgery is typically performed to relieve pain and other types of symptoms by decreasing pressure on compressed nerves or stabilizing the spine.
In some cases involving ruptured or herniated discs, a discectomy may be required to remove the damaged part of a spinal disc, or a laminectomy can be performed to remove spurs or other abnormal growths.
In instances where the spine is unstable, patients can have a spinal fusion performed to fuse together two or more of the vertebrae.
All of these procedures are often done with minimally invasive techniques to help prevent damage to surrounding tissue and to allow for shorter recovery time and reduced blood loss. Laser spine surgery is often advertised as being essentially risk-free and noninvasive. However, patients may need incisions beforehand and damage from the laser could result in serious complications in rare cases.
Another point to consider is that laser spine surgery hasn’t been studied in a controlled clinical trial to determine how effective it is.
While many marketing efforts promoting laser spine surgery promote it as a painless and noninvasive procedure, it does actually involve surgery, requiring bone and ligament to then be removed to free the nerve from compression, through the use of small surgical instruments. The laser is only secondary to these.
Spinal Surgery and Its Overall Effectiveness
Most cases of neck and back pain are only muscle-rated and don’t require or benefit from any additional surgery. Unless you’re experiencing severe pain or muscle weakness that’s making it a challenge to walk or perform regular daily tasks, surgery isn’t often the first option.
In most cases, physical therapy and exercise, along with anti-inflammatory medications and lifestyle changes, are often more effective means of eliminating neck and back pain.
If conservative treatments don’t succeed in reducing this pain, you may require surgery, but this depends on the diagnosis. For instance, if you have a herniated disk with extreme pain that isn’t treatable with other options, you may require a discectomy.
Consider Traditional Spinal Surgery
Unlike laser spine surgery, traditional spine surgery has been been tested in clinical trials, and most patients who go through discectomies rather than laser spine surgery have experienced relief from pain and other symptoms.
Laminectomy is also effective for older patients who have received a diagnosis for spinal stenosis. Only a select few neurosurgeons recommend laser spine surgery as an alternative to these traditional surgeries, as there is very little evidence proving that laser spine surgery is worthwhile compared to discectomies and laminectomies, among other traditional procedures.
While laser spine surgery may work in some cases, you’re better off sticking with other more traditional methods to treat severe pain before resorting to it.