It’s no surprise that chronic back pain can seriously limit a person’s ability to enjoy life. Joining a friend to sit through a two-hour movie in a cramped theatre seat can be excruciating. “Hey Dad, come play ball!” or Mommy, let’s go ride bikes!” may feel more like a taunt than the enthusiastic invitation that it actually is.
People experiencing chronic pain often tend to recoil from social activities, spending more time alienated from friends and family, and more time with their pain. The sidelines can be a very sad and lonely place to reside—especially over an extended period of time—and at some point, friends and family may simply stop asking people with chronic back pain to participate.
According to WebMd, depression is not only the most common mental health issue facing patients with chronic pain, it may also complicate treatment and recovery.
Why Does Chronic Pain Sometimes Lead to Depression?
The answer may lie in the condition of being “chronic.” The term chronic, as defined by dictionary.com, is “having a long duration.” It may seem as if no end is in sight.
Chronic pain—as opposed to acute pain caused by a sudden injury—lasts 12 months or even longer. The human body responds to pain with an emotional response. Anxiety, fear, fatigue, agitation and irritability are all common feelings that emerge when pain continues for extended periods of time.
People with chronic pain often have difficulty getting enough truly restful sleep, leaving them groggy, and medications prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation can add to an overall feeling of dullness.
When a family member experiences chronic pain, the entire family feels the backlash the unwelcome houseguest brings—particularly when a breadwinner is unable to provide per usual, resulting in financial burdens.
Taking Control of Chronic Back Pain
Feeling as though one has lost control over their life due to chronic back pain can be a trigger for depressive responses, and can worsen pain and depression as a person begins to feel victimized by both.
A widely accepted treatment philosophy is to implement conservative approaches to treating any type of back pain prior to recommending surgery.
Non-surgical Treatment for Chronic Back Pain
Antidepressants have shown promise in reducing chronic pain and depression, as both conditions involve the same neurotransmitters and nerves. Electrical stimulation, nerve blocks, physical therapy and/or an exercise regimen approved by a physician have also been successful in reducing pain, thereby controlling the accompanying psychological issues.
When Conservative Treatment for Chronic Back Pain Fails to Provide Relief
In some cases, conservative measures simply aren’t enough to truly resolve the underlying cause of chronic back pain and the subsequent emotional depression. Spine surgery may the answer for alleviating the issue of chronic, debilitating pain.
What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Spine surgeries are often performed with traditional “open surgery” which requires creating a long incision—five to six inches—to allow the surgeon access to the spinal column.
Due to advancements in medical technology, certain spine surgeries can now be conducted with techniques that don’t require such a large incision. This is known as minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). Some of the more common minimally invasive spine surgeries include diskectomies, fusions and laminectomies.
What are the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through very small incisions and frequently doesn’t require retraction of muscles surrounding the spine that can cause trauma to adjacent tissues.
The Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery lists benefits that include reduced scarring, less loss of blood during surgery, a shorter recovery period, less postoperative pain and improved function. Many specialists believe that minimally invasive spine surgery can achieve the same goals as traditional open spine surgery, yet with far less trauma.
When considering any surgical procedure, it’s important to know just exactly how qualified your surgeon is. Questions to ask: Is the surgeon board-certified? How many times has the surgeon performed this specific procedure? What is the rate of success achieved by the surgeries?
Do you want to know more about minimally invasive back surgery? Dr. Kornel can analyze your specific situation and provide you with answers. He specializes in minimally invasive surgical procedures that significantly reduce the trauma associated with surgery while increasing the speed of patients’ recovery.
Call (914) 351-3600 to learn more about Dr. Kornel and how his expertise can benefit you.