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3-D Image of Human Spinal Cord

What is Spine Surgery?

Spine Surgery is categorically divided into Open Spine Surgery or Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS), also known as Endoscopic Spine Surgery (ESS), or Arthroscopic Spine surgery. It is a surgical procedure that is performed to relieve a person of pain due to spine injuries. 

In the conventional approach of spine surgeries, the spine doctor makes a single long incision, spreads, or pulls a relatively large amount of muscle or tissues to fix the spine. Endoscopic spine surgery, on the other, is a state-of-the-art form of minimally invasive spine surgery that incurs less pain and provides quick relief to the patient. ESS, as the name suggests, is performed using a micro-sized incision with the help of an endoscope to visualize the surgical site. 

The MISS is generally performed to stabilize spinal joints and vertebral bones caused due to herniated discs, bone spurs, instability of the spines, or spinal tumors.

Surgeons performing spinal cord surgery on a patient

When do you need spine surgery or back surgery?

Aching back? You are not alone. If you are suffering from back pain, chances are, you can ease your pain without undergoing surgery. In many cases, back pain can be treated with conventional methods of pain management such as hot compressions, ice packing, spinal injections, physiotherapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. But, if the back pain does not get resolved and the pain continues to affect your daily routine, surgery might be a good option for you. 

Spine surgery might be a good treatment option for you if conservative treatments show no effective results and the pain continues to be disabling. Spine surgery not only relieves a patient of chronic back pain but also treats associated numbness that spreads to the shoulder or goes down to the legs.

Types of spine surgery

Endoscopic Spine Surgery

Endoscopic Spine Surgery










Spinal abnormalities mostly involve abnormal interactions between the soft and hard tissue components of the spine. A spine doctor may be able to rule out a spine injury by physical examination, by asking some questions about the accident that has caused the injury, or by testing for your sensory function and movement. 

In addition to these tests, the doctor may ask you a few questions to understand the condition better, some of which might be:

  • Whether you have any pain in your back or neck?
  • Did you suffer any injury on your back or had to undergo any surgery on your neck or back?
  • Do you feel weakness and balance loss in your legs?


If the above procedures don’t suffice in giving out a clear indication of the condition, the spine doctor will conduct a more comprehensive and detailed exam to diagnose the level of injury and determine the best treatment.

Doctor checking back pain in a patient

Risks & Complications

About 3 percent of people suffering a spine injury may develop syringomyelia – a condition in which syrinx or fluid-filled cysts form within the spinal cord. Syringomyelia may sometimes cause pain and discomfort, and at other times, cause no symptoms at all.

Questions to ask your doctor .

Treatments & Costs

It is generally performed for spinal stenosis patients. The surgeon removes bony spurs or walls compressing the spinal column to relieve the nerve pressure.

Health Insurance Coverage for Spine Surgery

Insurance coverage

Most insurance companies cover the cost of all spine surgeries. But the exact amount of coverage depends on your health insurance policy. To know the details, it is best that you talk to your insurance provider to discuss the insurance coverage of our surgery.

Health Insurance Coverage for Spine Surgery
Recovery rate of Spinal Cord Surgery

Recovery rate

Once you are home from the surgical center, it is time to focus on your recovery. Allowing the spine to heal properly, taking ample rest, and eating healthy foods are the keys. The best advice, however, is to follow the after-care tips by the spine surgeon for a speedy and safe recovery.

Take good care of the spine. Begin with short walks and gradually increase the distance and time. Moderate exercise enhances muscle toning and builds strength. Avoid twisting, lifting, and bending. If you have had a spinal fusion, avoid lifting weights. 

Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Since you will be less active physically, do not load the body on high calories and fatty foods. Healthy eating is crucial for smooth recovery.

Follow the advice of the doctor for bathing and incision care. Typically, doctors recommend keeping the surgery site clean and dry for 3-4 days. Avoid getting into the bathtub or the swimming pool until the doctor deems fit.

Take medicines for pain management after the surgery as directed by the doctor and make sure there are no gaps. Do not take any medicine without informing your doctor.

Ask your surgeon what is the best position to sleep in without hurting the back and try to follow it. Ideally, the following tips help relieve the stress from the back and the adjacent body parts. 

– Place a pillow under the knees or the back to keep the hips slightly bent.

– Don’t get up suddenly from the bed. Use the ‘log roll method.’

– While getting up, push your arms and legs rather than exert pressure on the waist or back.

Wear a post-operative brace if the surgeon prescribes one. The brace provides support to the neck and back and limits movements of the spinal levels. 

Ask your doctor if you may require physical therapy after the surgical treatment. Physiotherapy helps gain and build bone and muscle strength, and increase physical endurance. Ask your doctor if you need to include any form of exercise in the recovery regime.

The post-operative routine you adopt as part of your recovery from spine surgery can help prevent future or additional spine/health-related problems. So, it is important to maintain an active life, practice exercising, eat well, and get plenty of rest to stay on that recovery road for a long time!

Recovery rate of Spinal Cord Surgery

Video testimonial - by patient

Video on the disease and treatment - by Pristyn Care doctor

Latest Research

  • Clinical studies in spinal surgery

    Despite many challenges to the validity of clinical trials in orthopedic surgery, it is possible to conduct well-designed trials in this field and produce clinically important findings and reasonably valid conclusions about effectiveness, prognosis, and diagnosis in orthopedic surgery.

  • Minimally invasive spine technology

    New technologies involving hybrid procedures for the treatment of complex spine trauma are now on the horizon. Surgical corridors have been developed utilizing the interspinous space for X-STOP placement to treat lumbar stenosis in a minimally invasive fashion.


Is spinal cord compression and nerve compression the same?

A spinal cord compression and a nerve compression is medically different from each other. While spinal cord compression may affect the overall functioning of the body, nerve compression may cause pain, sensory loss, and motor impairment.

How long does spine surgery take?

The duration of a spine surgery depends on the complexity. But for most cases of minimally invasive spine surgery, the duration is approximately 1-2 hours.

Where is the incision made for cervical spine surgery?

In the case of cervical spine surgery, the incision is either made in the posterior cervical (back of the neck) or in the anterior cervical (front side of the neck). The decision entirely depends on the location of the health problem.

How soon after minimally invasive spine surgery can I return to my daily activities?

If you undergo minimally invasive spine surgery, you can resume your normal activities within 6-8 weeks, including bending, lifting, and twisting movements. However, some spine surgeries like spine fusion procedures may take longer recovery time depending on the location and severity of the condition.

Can children develop spine problems?

Although it is rare, children can develop spine disorders. Spinal disorders in children can be both prenatal and postnatal. Some spine problems are present at birth, but as the baby grows, they become more apparent, like congenital scoliosis, while some are diagnosed in a prenatal ultrasound itself, like osteoporosis. In severe cases, the baby might even need scoliosis surgery immediately.

Who is a good candidate for endoscopic spine surgery?

To confirm if a person is the right candidate for spine surgery or not, a detailed consultation with a spine surgeon is absolutely necessary. In common scenarios, an individual with the following problems is considered a good candidate for endoscopic spine surgery.

– One who has persistent pain in the back

– One who faces problems in bending, lifting, taking the stairs, or walking for long after a back injury

– One who has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or spondylolisthesis.

How to choose a good spine surgeon?

Spine surgery is a critical surgery. Hence, it is crucial to find a highly trained and experienced surgeon for the treatment. A good spine surgeon is one who has a steep experience curve in performing successful spinal surgeries and is trained in multiple spine surgical procedures including minimally invasive techniques. The track record of the surgeries that the doctor has performed during their professional career, reviews, and testimonials of his/ her patients can be of help to a great extent.

What is the success rate of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Medical research shows that minimally invasive spine surgery has a success rate of over 90 percent. But the percentage is not absolute and completely depends on how critical the condition of the spine injury is.


Facts and figures around spine surgery

  1. India sees more than 200,000 cases of spinal injuries a year. Of these, 30,000 relate to spinal cord injury and paralysis of various degrees. 
  2. Major causes of spine injury are road accidents (approximately 50%), workplace accidents with falls from heights (45%), and sports injuries, which are rare. More than 2 lakh patients are benefiting from good spine surgery.
  3. More than 2 lakh patients are benefiting from good spine surgery in India every year.
  4. Age and sex-adjusted population rates of lumbar fusion has increased 32.1%, from 60.4 per 100,000 adults in 2004 (95% CI 60.1, 60.8) to 79.8 per 100,000 in 2015.
  5. Spinal fusion has the potential to eliminate or seriously reduce back pain. 

Understanding medical terms related to spine injury and spine surgery

  • Anterior – The front portion of the human body. The term is often used to indicate the position of one structure relative to another.
  • Allograft bone – Also known as the donor’s bone, this term is used to indicate the bone which is derived from another human and is commonly used for grafting procedures.
  • Anterolateral – Situated or occurring in front of and to the side.
  • Arthritis – Inflammation of a joint characterized by pain, swelling, and restriction of movement.
  • Arthropathy – Any disease or disorder involving a joint.
  • Arthroscope – An instrument inserted into a joint cavity to view the interior of joint and correct certain abnormalities. 
  • Arthroscopy – The procedure of visualizing the inside of a joint by means of an arthroscope.
  • Articular – Pertaining to the movement of a joint.
  • Autograft bone – Bone transplanted from one part of the boy to another in the same individual.
  • Bone marrow – The tissue that lies within the internal cavities of the bones.
  • Centrum – The body of a vertebra.
  • Cartilage – Thin, white tissue that covers the end of the bone at a joint.
  • Compression – The act of pressing together that refers to the loss of vertebral body height either anteriorly, posteriorly, or both.
  • Disc (Intervertebral) – The tough, elastic structure that is between the bodies of spinal vertebrae.
  • Disc degeneration – The loss of structural and functional integrity of the disc. 
  • Endoscopy – Inspection of internal body structures or cavities using an endoscope.
  • Fracture – A disruption of the normal continuity of the bone.
  • Herniated Disc – Extrusion of part of the nucleus pulposus material through a defect in the annulus fibrosus.
  • Joint – The junction of two or more bones that permits varying motion between the bones.
  • Laminectomy – An operation for removal of part (laminotomy) or all of the lamina of a vertebra.
  • Ligament – A band of flexible, fibrous connective tissue that is attached at the end of a bone near a joint. 
  • Lumbar – The lower part of the spine between the thoracic region and the sacrum.
  • Osteoporosis – A disorder in which bone is abnormally brittle, less dense due to multiple diseases and abnormalities.
  • Posterior – Located behind a structure, such as relating to the backside of the human body.
  • Sepsis – A state of infection of tissue due to disease-producing bacteria or toxins.
  • Tendon – The fibrous band of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
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