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Spinal surgery

Tired of battling spinal pain? We're here to help.

If you're suffering from back pain, you're not alone. At The Ridgeway Hospital in Swindon, we see many people with different spinal conditions that affect their lives in different ways. We understand that back pain can have a devastating impact on your social life, relationships, and overall ability to function. But we also know it doesn’t have to be this way.

We offer a variety of tailored spinal treatment to manage and even eliminate back pain. To find out more about our services, you can book an appointment with one of our consultants online.

Sciatica is one of the most common conditions that can require spinal surgery. It happens when your sciatic nerve is irritated by factors such as a herniated disc or a back injury. Although the pain is felt down your leg, it comes from your spine.

Other reasons why you might need spinal surgery include:

  • A slipped disk 
  • Bone spurs in your spine caused by arthritis
  • A broken or dislocated bone in your spine
  • A tumor on your spinal cord
  • Degenerative spinal issues, such as stenosis
  • Spinal infection

These conditions can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Severe back pain
  • Numbness in your lower back and legs
  • A loss of bowel control
  • A loss of bladder control
  • Pain from your lower back that radiates to your arms and legs 
  • Weakness in your lower body
  • Sexual dysfunction

The price of your spinal surgery will differ depending on factors including which hospital you have treatment at, and the consultant you see. We offer fixed price packages, which are agreed before treatment so you always know what you'll be paying. The final cost will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

We offer flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your payment over a time that suits you. If you have private medical insurance, your surgery will normally be covered by your policy. We accept insured patients at all our hospitals and we work with all major providers.

You can usually see a consultant for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with The Ridgeway Hospital in Swindon. 

During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask about your general health and your medical history. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They'll ask you how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis, your consultant will carry out a gentle physical examination of your back. In some cases, they might also send you to get an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan, which will be done onsite by one of our radiologists. 

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey towards improved mobility and reduced pain. To make the most of the initial consultation, feel free to talk as openly and honestly as you like about the symptoms you're experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from surgery. 

The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and having spinal surgery (or any other treatment you're recommended) will differ from person to person. 

Your surgeon will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together.

Many people do not require surgical treatment for spinal conditions. Non-surgical treatment options include:

Injection therapy

Also known as steroid injection therapy, this form of pain relief involves the injection of steroid (corticosteroid) medication into the painful part of your back. This can effectively reduce pain and inflammation. This form of pain relief may be recommended if you are unable to tolerate oral anti-inflammatories.   

Oral anti-inflammatories

These will be prescribed by your GP or consultant. Your doctor might also recommend using heat therapy (in the form of icepacks or heat pads) to reduce swelling or numb your pain. This alternative method can be used in addition to anti-inflammatory medication.  

Physiotherapy for back pain

This is an effective form of pain relief involving a specialist exercise programme built and managed for you by your physiotherapist. Physiotherapy usually involves the use of specialist equipment to strengthen your joint muscles and improve your mobility. It can be a highly effective form of relief from back pain.

If these treatments do not alleviate your symptoms, you might require spinal surgery. We offer a variety of spinal surgeries at The Ridgeway Hospital in Swindon, including:

Lumbar decompression surgery

This is an umbrella term to describe surgery used to treat compressed nerves in your lower (lumbar) spine caused by a variety of conditions, including a herniated disc or a fracture or swelling of spinal tissue. There are three main ways to perform the procedure:

Laminectomy
When a section of your bone is removed from one of your vertebrae (spinal bones) to reduce pressure from the compressed nerve.

Discectomy
When a section of a damaged disc in your back is removed to reduce pressure on a compressed nerve.

Spinal fusion surgery
This treats debilitating pain in your lumbar (lower) spine. It involves fusing together two or more of your vertebrae (the bones that form your spinal cord) using a bone graft. 

Lumbar disc replacement surgery

This is another form of spinal surgery to replace a damaged disc in the lower part of your spine with an artificial one made of metal, or a combination of metal and plastic.

The process of your procedure will depend on which type of surgery you have, as will your recovery period. We explain the process for lumbar decompression surgery below.

Laminectomy

This surgery will be performed under general anaesthesia, when you are not awake, or spinal anaesthesia, when anaesthetic is administered into your spine to numb that area of your body. Your consultant will begin by making a cut over your damaged vertebra (spinal bone) to spread apart the muscles around your spine. They will then remove the bony arch of your vertebra (known as the lamina) to ease compression on your nerves. They may also remove any bone spurs or growths pressing on your nerves. After, your consultant will close the wound with stitches or surgical staples and apply a sterilised dressing. 

This will take between two to three hours for your surgeon to perform.

Discectomy

This surgery will also be performed under general anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia. Your consultant will begin by making an incision over your damaged spinal bone and carefully pull away the nerve to expose a prolapsed or bulging disc. They will remove this to relieve pressure on your nerve. Most of the disc will be left as a shock absorber. After, your consultant will close the wound with stitches or surgical staples and apply a sterilised dressing. 

This will usually take between two to three hours for your surgeon to perform, but can sometimes take longer.

Spinal fusion surgery

This surgery will also be performed under general anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia. Your consultant will begin by making an incision over your damaged spinal bone. To fuse your vertebrae together, they will place a bone graft material between them. This bone graft is usually taken from a different part of your body, such as your hip. Your consultant will fit the bone graft using metal plats, screws, or rods. After, your consultant will close the wound with stitches or surgical staples and apply a sterilised dressing.

This will usually take between two to three hours for your surgeon to perform, but can sometimes take longer.

Your recovery from spinal surgery depends on many factors, including your general fitness, age, and lifestyle. 

When you first wake up after lumbar decompression surgery, your back may feel sore and stiff. This is normal, so don't worry. You will be offered painkillers to relieve these symptoms and feel more comfortable. Your healthcare team will encourage you to get our of bed and walk the day after surgery. Your physiotherapist will guide you as you walk to make sure you don't overexert yourself. 

You will have stitches or staples on your back where your consultant made an incision during surgery. Deep stitches beneath your skin will dissolve. Your healthcare team will arrange a follow-up appointment for you to have non-dissolvable stitches removed, if needed.

Your stitches might be covered by dressing. Be careful not to get this wet when you wash before you have your dressing removed at your follow-up appointment. 

Recovering at home

You can usually return home after surgery within four days.

Be gentle with yourself for the first four to six weeks as you recover at home and slowly regain strength and mobility. Do not partake in high-impact, strenuous activities such as lifting or sport. Your physiotherapist will set you a programme of tailored exercises to perform at home to help strengthen your back and recover faster. 

Your consultant will advise when it is safe for you to return to work and begin incorporating more activity into your everyday routine. For many people this begins twelve weeks after surgery, but no recovery timeline looks the same, so it is always best to follow the advice of your consultant. 

Like any surgery, spinal surgery comes with potential risk factors, including:

  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Persistent pain

Your consultant can discuss these with you in more detail to put your mind at ease. 

 When you choose to go private with us, you can expect:   

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today.

Specialists offering Spinal surgery

Mr Robin Bhatia

Consultant Spinal Neurosurgeon

MA (Oxon), MBBS, PhD, FRCS (SN)

The Ridgeway Hospital

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