Experts from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjbh.org.

After getting more conservative treatment for back pain, the relief is starting to wane. What other minimally-invasive treatments are available?

If you have been suffering from severe back pain and have tried conservative methods (medications, physical therapy, steroid injections) to treat the pain without any success, it may be time to think about making an appointment to see a neurosurgeon affiliated with RWJ Physician Enterprise and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton to further explore your options, including surgical and non-surgical options.

Nazer Qureshi

While most back pain is short-term, according to the Radiological Society of North America, about 20-30 percent of people affected by low back pain will develop chronic low back pain that could last a year or more. You do not have to continue to suffer, there are treatment options available.

When contemplating whether or not you need back/spine surgery or other minimally invasive procedures, you should always make sure you schedule a consultation with your physician at his/her office and ask questions that are specific to your particular ailment, so that a proper examination is conducted and as result, diagnosis and treatment plan can be created. Once the source of your back and/or leg pain is identified, open or minimally invasive surgery could be considered.

During an open surgery, an incision is made, allowing the surgeon to easily see where to place screws, cages and any bone graft materials necessary to stabilize the spinal column and promote healing. Minimally invasive spine surgery does not involve a long incision, and has been understood to reduce damage to the muscles around the spine. It typically causes less pain after surgery and a quicker recovery. The surgeon uses a combination of real time x-ray images and different tools to access the area.

In the end, every patient is unique and the final treatment depends on the pathology you present with and is based on the clinical examination that your physician performs. Some patients may qualify for minimally invasive treatment options, however, others may not, which is why it is very important to consult with a trusted neurosurgeon before making any decisions.

If you would like to learn more about back and spine surgery, contact Dr. Nazer Qureshi.

— Dr. Nazer Qureshi, neurological and spinal surgeon, RWJ Neurosurgical Associates

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician. Concerned about your health? Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjbh.org.