About 80% of the adult population will develop a significant episode of back pain at some stage during their lifetime. Fortunately most of these episodes are self-limited and improve spontaneously without treatment. Approximately 10-20% will have recurrent episodes of pain and some will develop significant chronic back pain symptoms.
Acute back pain from muscle strain and soft tissue tears heal spontaneously. Out of the small proportion of the population who do get recurrent or chronic pain, the most common underlying reason is degeneration of the supportive tissues of the spine, such as the disc, ligaments, and so on. Acute back strain, lack of exercise, poor flexibility, poor posture and smoking tend to aggravate the underlying conditions and cause symptoms. Symptoms may be mechanical, related to the stability of the spine, or neurogenic because of involvement of the nerves, or due to a combination of both mechanical and neurogenic causes. Uncommon causes of back pain include trauma, infection and tumours.
When is spine surgery required?
Surgery is contemplated when it becomes necessary to relieve neurogenic pain by decompressing the nerves and to relieve mechanical pain by correcting or stabilising the spine and placing hardware into the bony elements. Our surgeries are often a combination of these two procedures.