Doctors will almost always try non-surgical back pain treatments before recommending surgery. People with chronic (recurring) back pain are often good candidates for back surgery, as are people who have lower back pain without leg pain. Some of the diagnoses that may need surgery include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, vertebral fractures, and discogenic low back pain.
Depending on the diagnosis, back surgery is sometimes used when other non-surgical treatments have failed. People who may be candidates for back surgery have:
- Constant pain
- Pain that recurs frequently and interferes with their ability to sleep
- Pain that prevents them from functioning at their job
- Pain that makes it difficult to perform daily activities.
In general, there are two groups of people who may require back surgery to treat their spinal problems. People in the first group may have:
People in the second group may have predominant lower back pain without leg pain. These are people with discogenic low back pain (also called degenerative disc disease), in which discs wear out with age. In most cases, the outcome of back surgery is much more predictable in people with sciatica than in those with predominant low back pain.
(Click Lower Back Pain for more information.)
Some of the diagnoses that may require back surgery include:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Vertebral fractures
- Discogenic low back pain.