In this article Mr Shuaib Karmani discusses how
advances in spinal surgery have made it possible to treat very serious spinal
conditions through minimally invasive (keyhole) techniques, allowing quicker recovery,
less pain and better outcomes.
pain is one of the biggest health problems in General practice second only to
the common cold for days off work
There are approximately 5 million GP visits
a year due to back pain, with 25% of adults at any time reporting symptoms of
back pain. The TUC reported that almost 5 million working days a year are lost
due to back pain.
back pain is simple to manage
Most cases of back pain are due to minor
injuries to the muscles and joints in the lumbar spine. This causes a dull
aching pain in the low back associated with stiffness. There can be difficulty
sitting or standing for prolonged periods. Such attacks can be made worse by
stress. This pattern of back pain responds to simple painkillers such as
paracetamol and ibuprofen. It is important to remain active. Physiotherapy
focusing on improving posture and core strength (abdominal, back and pelvic
floor muscles) can help.
forms of back pain are important to recognize early
Sometimes back pain can be due to serous
conditions such as tumours, infection, fractures and trapped nerves. It is important
to recognize these conditions early. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to
better outcomes. If back pain is associated with numbness or tingling in the
arms or legs then this can be due to a trapped nerve. If you have back pain
after a serous accident this can be due to a fracture. In the elderly fractures
can occur after minor injury due to osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). Lastly
if you have a fever weight loss or are feeling unwell with the pain then this
can sometimes mean more serious forms of back pain due to infection or tumours
in the spine.
to see your GP
If you feel that you have a serious form of
back pain or your back pain has not resolved after a few weeks of simple
treatment then seeing you GP may be helpful. If you have difficulty passing
water or going to the toilet as a result of you back pain you should see your
GP urgently. This can mean severe pressure on the nerves in your lower back.
for back pain; the future is through the keyhole
Most forms of back pain respond well to
simple treatments such as painkillers, gentle exercise and manipulation.
Serious forms of back pain due to tumours, infection, fractures often require
surgery. Surgery on the spine is a daunting prospect for most patients with
long complicated operations, involving prolonged recovery and rehabilitation.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery or keyhole surgery involves advances in
imaging, engineering and a new skill set for surgeons. Mr Karmani has been a
pioneer in minimally invasive spinal surgery in the UK for many years. It is
possible now to perform complex surgeries rebuilding the whole spine for
serious conditions, through these techniques.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery allows
operations to be performed through multiple small incisions about 1-2cm
allowing complex reconstructions of the spine to be performed. This means less
pain, less bleeding, quicker healing and quicker recovery. The daunting prospect
of spinal surgery suddenly becomes a very manageable hurdle on the path to full
recovery. Also through this technique conditions previously thought untreatable
can be managed.
Complex reconstructions like this
rebuilding the spine with titanium rods and screws can be possible through