Spine surgery is not as serious of an option for back and leg pain anymore. Today’s minimally invasive techniques can make as small of an incision as a half inch, with recovery time practically overnight as opposed to some of the procedures offered in the past. A physician can decide whether a minimally invasive spine surgery is appropriate after diagnosing the situation and determining whether or not there is a high potential for success. There are several procedures available for different conditions, and some that are now under study. With lower back pain as the most common reason for people over the age of 60 to have surgery, these techniques offer plenty of relief.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion can address scoliosis, spinal degeneration and instability caused by injury or aging. Conducted through small incisions to the back with an endoscope (a tube with a camera running into the site) and high-tech tools that perform the surgery, the surgeon can see the procedure on a television monitor with great clarity. The fusion itself occurs when the physician inserts bone tissue between the bones to help it grow – or fuse – together. Screws or a tiny “bone cage” can also be placed in between the bones to encourage quick growth. This attachment of the two vertebrae together prevents future movement that in the past was causing pain.


Bone fractures in the spine can come from a variety of causes, including osteoporosis, hyperthyroidism, or cancer and its treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Kyphoplasty was developed to provide stability to crushed or fractured vertebrae. During the spine surgery, a small incision is made in the back and an endoscope is inserted next to the injured bone. A modified “balloon” is inserted through the tube with fluoroscopy lighting the way and using X-ray images, the surgeon inflates the balloon at the point of the vertebrae and creates a cavity. The balloon is removed and a cement-like substance is injected there where it hardens quickly. Patients typically feel relief immediately or within a couple of days.

X-Stop Spacer

When people suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis – which is the narrowing of the passageways of the vertebrae where the spinal cord and nerve roots pass – they will have pain in the buttocks, groin and either leg. When the individual is bending over or sitting down, the back bones release the pressure on the nerves and offer relief. This compression can be duplicated by placing an implant, a spacer, between the two bones that are pressing together, and sustained relief is offered. This procedure is a welcome addition to the 1.2 million Americans suffering from spinal stenosis.

Investigational ISS

The Superion Interspinous Spacer is an investigational technique very similar to the X-Stop Spacer, in that a device is placed between two vertebrae and acts as a support column to release the compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots. As of this writing, the procedure is still under study in locations across the US, and is expected to receive FDA approval by 2014.

With Americans spending around $50 billion each year on back pain alone, the time has come for spinal surgeries to be less invasive, with a quicker recovery time, at less cost.

Author's Bio: 

The author of this article has expertise in spine surgery. The articles on herniated disc reveals the author’s knowledge on the same. The author has written many articles on back surgery as well.