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Your spine is made up of bones called vertebrae, which are cushioned by discs of tissue that act as shock absorbers. Your spinal cord runs through a channel in the spine and it is here that nerves branch off to the rest of the body. When one or more nerves in your spine are put under pressure they can cause pain, and back surgery may be performed to relieve some of this pressure.
Pressure on the spinal nerves causes problems with the traffic of nerve signals to and from the brain. Compressed nerves can also lead to sciatica, which is usually seen with these symptoms:
The type of surgery recommended for you will depend on the source of your back pain, as there are several causes of nerve compression. These include:
We pride ourselves on our clinical excellence, you'll be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-speciality surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
If you normally take medication (eg tablets for blood pressure), continue to take this as usual, unless your surgeon or anaesthetist, specifically tells you not to. If you are unsure about taking your medication, please contact the hospital.
We understand that having surgery can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
Back operations are generally done under general anaesthetic, which means you are asleep throughout the procedure and feel no pain. The operation may be done by open surgery, which involves a large cut being made in your back, or keyhole surgery, which uses a thin and long microscope and other special instruments through several small incisions on your back. Your surgeon will discuss with you which type of back operation is most suitable for your pain.
Common treatments include:
This procedure, the centre of the disc that is affecting the spinal cord or nerve is removed; this relieves the pressure and the pain caused by the protruding disc.
The nerve root or spinal decompression method is done to remove any bone, disc tissue or other material that is putting pressure on the nerve or spinal cord areas.
Vertebrae are joined together using bone taken from your hip, metal implants or a specially designed cage.
Your surgeon may perform more than one type of procedure, if needed, during a single operation.
Depending on the type of operation you have, you will usually need to stay in hospital for between two and seven days.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.
After this, you will be taken to your room where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
While you are in hospital a physiotherapist will help you exercise while you are in bed and then will be able to help you get up and down the stairs before you are discharged.
Your anaesthetist will prescribe painkillers after the operation. Suffering from pain could slow down your recovery, so please discuss any discomfort with your doctors or nurses.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
You should gradually increase the amount of walking and sitting you do during the first month after your surgery. During this time you should avoid bending, lifting, twisting or stretching. Your surgeon will give advice that is specific to you about how soon you can return to work and leisure activities such as sport.
Once you’re ready to be discharged from hospital, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home as you won’t be able to drive. You need to follow your surgeon’s advice about driving. You shouldn’t drive until you are confident that you could perform an emergency stop without discomfort.
Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way.
Typically your consultant will want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing. You might also be seen by one of our physiotherapists.
On rare occasions, complications following back surgery can occur. If you experience any of these symptoms – infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, numbness, loss of muscle control, pain or paralysis – call us straight away.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.
A fixed price for this treatment may be available on enquiry and following an initial consultation.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
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