Spinal stenosis surgery is one of the more widely used therapy options, particular for patients who have not found relief using more conservative methods of care. I must be completely upfront with all of you from the get go in this article and tell you that I am notoriously anti-surgery. I am however, also basing my feelings regarding surgical interventions on solid facts and research statistics, as well as the actual experience of tens of thousands of patients I correspond with each year.
I am the first to say that in some cases, surgery is warranted and truly needed, even when the hope it provides is a small one. However, I am also telling that the majority of back surgeries are not needed, not indicated, and that many are based exclusively on the greed and lack of common sense demonstrated by many callous doctors.
This resource section details all the topics which are relevant to treating stenosis using surgical interventions. The articles contained herein will guide patients to understand all their procedural choices before making the wrong decision.
Spinal Stenosis Surgery Techniques
Here are some dedicated topical articles on various spinal surgery techniques used for treating central canal stenosis, as well as neuroforaminal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis laser surgery is an updated form of minimally invasive intervention which has many variable options.
Back surgery for spinal stenosis consists of several distinct treatment choices, each with different goals in mind.
Surgery for spinal stenosis should always be a last resort effort, after all conservative options have been exhausted.
Spinal stenosis surgeons literally hold a patient’s life in their hands on the operating table. You better choose a good surgeon.
Minimally invasive spinal stenosis surgery has become the industry standard in most countries of the world. A minimally invasive procedure is always better than a full open technique, as long as it can still accomplish the same surgical objectives.
Spinal fusion for stenosis is one of the worst possible surgical options for most patients.
Corpectomy for spinal stenosis goes beyond fusion, incorporating vertebral removal for the most invasive option possible.
Laminectomy for spinal stenosis, and laminotomy for canal stenosis, are antiquated operations which have been given new life with less invasive techniques.
Foraminotomy for spinal stenosis is generally used to treat neuroforaminal stenosis, rather than central spinal stenosis.
Failed spinal stenosis surgery is the sad reality for millions who have invested so much hope and trust in their surgeons, but have been let down by disappointing surgical outcomes. This outcome is often the rule, not the exception, either immediately or eventually.
Learn more about foraminal stenosis surgery.
Make sure to be well prepared for your surgical consultation by reading our patient guide before meeting your prospective surgeon.
The Business of Spinal Stenosis Surgery
Surgeons operate. It is their job. Getting a recommendation for surgery from a surgeon should not be a surprise to anyone. Remember, medicine is a business, now more than ever.
I see literally thousands of surgical cases. Many people are recommended to undergo an operation and never do so (I am one of these.) Virtually all are fine and many actually truly recover from their pain with time. None have to face the terrors of the incredible damage which is done to their anatomy during surgery.
Many others have surgery with varying results. Some are better at first, then go downhill. Others are immediately worsened and wind up incapacitated. Some feel great for years then have a relapse and often more surgery. A few enjoy complete cures.
When considering a surgical cure for any back pain issue, the odds are stacked way against you. This is a fact. Doctors consider an operation to be a success if the immediate surgical goal is realized. Fusion succeeds if the spine actually fuses. Laminectomy succeeds if the lamina is indeed removed and the spinal canal increased.
Success is never measured medically by pain relief. This is why doctors who cite success stats are typically blowing hot air and nothing else. I have heard it all. Maybe it is time for you to learn the facts also, before it is too late.
Spinal Stenosis Surgery Controversy
I always get a few letters from angry doctors at these types of articles. Honesty hurts. If these things were not true, the articles would be ignored, not inflammatory.
Likewise, a few patients tell me that they are cured by their surgeries and feel great. I am thrilled for them, but am not surprised when at least 80% of them (yes, statistically) write again a few months or years down the line telling me how things changed and how right I was.
My advice is simple:
Surgery? Don’t do it, unless it is the only available option. Even then, be careful.
The worst part of this big medical mess?
There are actually many cases where the recommendation for surgery is correct and is truly the only option. I can’t help but agree with the doctors sometimes. However, the curative stats are still horrible. There just seems to be little except dumb luck between you, your spine and either a life of relief or an existence full of chronic torment. It is quite a risk to take.