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Your back hurts! And you're looking for a treatment that will make the pain stop. You’ve read about Laser Spine Surgery, and you're interested in how it may help relieve your back pain.
There's been lots of press about Laser Spine Surgery. And, while it can help some back conditions and it does benefit some people, it seems to benefit those with only minor spine problems.
What IS Laser Spine Surgery?
Laser spine surgery uses a laser to remove tissue with heat rather that with traditional instruments. While it may be seen as "modern" or a "magic bullet", in truth, the use of lasers has been around for a long time. Lasers use a focused beam of light to cut soft tissue. Beneficial for
What are the PRO’S:
- It's Minimally Invasive
- Fast Recovery Time
- For Minor Conditions, Laser Spine Surgery Can Be Effective
What are the CON’S:
- For most painful back conditions, Laser Spine Surgery is Not Effective
- Laser spine surgery can truly only be used for a very small number of minor spine conditions.
- Laser surgery can result in an procedure which does not completely address or alleviate the problem (inadequate operation) ,which sometimes means you’ll need additional surgery.
- Pain may be from back instability. Laser surgery does not address or alleviate this condition. The basic problem is missed.
- Using a laser during surgery can sometimes limit nerve damage. But in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon, a laser can actually increase the chances of tissue or nerve damage,
- Using a Laser Scalpel can be less effective and pose more risk than other minimally invasive procedures.
- The heat from the laser can damage adjacent nerves and lead to increased pain.
- Laser Spine Surgery is not taught in medical schools and is not considered a viable approach to spine surgery by medical advisory boards.
- Laser Spine Surgery is generally not covered by health insurance.
A very important consideration:
Laser Spine Surgery does not have to be performed by a Spine Surgeon. Practitioners who do not have the education, experience or understanding of the anatomy and function of the spine can legally perform Laser Spine Surgery.
A wise plan of action is to have an exam and consultation with a Spine Surgeon who is both Board-Certified and Fellowship Trained. At that exam, your spine surgeon can explain all options available for treatment of your particular (and unique) condition.
Before committing to any spinal procedure, it's wise to consider non-surgical options such as physical therapy, medication, and supervised exercise.
If surgery is indicated, explore all options available, including minimally invasive procedures that offer the benefits of less post-procedure pain and shorter recovery time.
Statistics prove, more complicated back problems often require traditional surgery for the best outcome.
DOCTORS WEIGH IN ON LASER SPINE SURGERY
"Lasers are not used by mainstream spine surgeons in the United States" -Atlantic Brain & Spine
"If you are considering back surgery, you should know that while minimally invasive surgery using a laser is effective for some conditions, it isn’t a miracle cure, and it isn’t for everyone. Using a laser during surgery can sometimes limit nerve damage. But in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon, a laser can actually increase the chances of tissue or nerve damage." Michael Steinmetz, MD, Co-Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Spine Health
"Spine-health.com has thousands of pages of information, all of which have been peer reviewed by a medical advisory board of prominent spine physicians. However, there is not one article on laser surgery as it is not an accepted spine procedure. At the major spine meetings and in the major spine journals there is a paucity of (if any) peer reviewed articles documenting any use of lasers in spine surgery. So if mainstream spine surgery is not interested in lasers. . It seems to me that the most practical use for lasers in spine surgery is for marketing." -Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD, Orthopedic Surgeon (retired)
"Very few neurosurgeons regard laser spine surgery as a viable alternative to conventional spine surgery techniques. At Mayo Clinic, we don't use or recommend laser spine surgery." -H. Gordon Deen, M.D., Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.
“Do you use a laser in your spinal surgeries?”
That question makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I reply calmly and with authority, “No.” I continue, “I am trained in laser surgery. It has almost zero usefulness in your spine surgery and in fact may be harmful.” -Mark R. McLaughlin, MD, FACS, FAANS, Princeton Brain & Spine