Spinal disorders have been recognized as early as 1500 BC. Treatment of Spinal disorders has evolved through various phases since then to the present day advanced interventions on the Spine.
Although most of the spinal disorders are treatable with conservative measures like medication, physiotherapy, exercises, braces etc., certain conditions need a surgical intervention to achieve best possible results. But any surgical procedure has certain risks associated with it. Spinal column houses the spinal cord and the nerve roots, which are very delicate and sensitive structures, carrying signals from the brain to the rest of the body. These structures are at risk of damage during a surgical procedure on the spine, which can lead to a minor or sometimes a serious disability due to loss of function of the limbs, bladder or bowel control or due to pain.
Spine surgery in particular, had earned a bad reputation among the general population due to the bad results of wrongly done surgeries without a complete understanding of the bio mechanics of the spine, lack of adequate surgical implants or instruments, or lack of adequate training in the early decades of the 20th century.
Treatment of spinal disorders has undergone a significant and rapid change in the last few decades with introduction of various equipment and techniques. There has been a tremendous advancement in understanding the biomechanics of the spine as well as in the technological support in the last few decades, which has dramatically changed the way of surgical management of various spinal disorders. At the same time it has also improved the safety of the surgical procedures on spine by many folds. The imaging techniques like MRI and CT scan have made possible an early diagnosis of spinal problems. The imaging techniques used in the operation theatre help visualise the spine while inserting implants into the spine used to stabilize it. Technologies like computer navigation and O-arm image intensifiers provide a three dimensional visualization of the spine and help protect the neural structures from damage during surgery. Neuro-monitoring systems are used to monitor the neural function during surgical manipulation of the spine, especially while correcting spinal deformities. These systems warn the surgeon of any impending damage to the spinal cord and help make the surgery safer. New spinal implant systems are continuously being developed to make surgical manipulation and stabilization of the spine easier and safer. Minimally invasive techniques, made possible by the special instruments, are designed to preserve the spinal muscles.
Today spine surgery has obtained a special place for itself and both Orthopaedic surgeons and Neurosurgeons dealing with spinal disorders need to have a specialized training and focus on spine surgery to be able to achieve best results consistently. Improved safety and the good results have changed the image of spine surgery today and more and more people with spinal disorders are getting the benefit of having a better quality of life with a pain free spine.
With multiple non-surgical and surgical treatment options available, it is the thorough evaluation in the clinic and the right decision making that makes a big difference in the results of treatment of spinal disorders and hence, it is of utmost importance to take the opinion of a spine specialist.