Spine Surgery in Elderly
With increased life expectancy, spine problems are more prevalent in old age
Spine problems can reduce the quality of life in old age
Most of these spine problems can be managed with out surgery
Surgery is required in a small percentage of patients
With advent of modern techniques and better surgical training, spine surgery can be done in older patients with a very high success rate
Gone are the days when senior citizens would like to retire from their active lifestyle and be confined to the walls of their own houses. Now our next generation senior citizens are young at heart and want to live their life to the fullest. They want to go to trips with their families, socialise with friends, play with their grand children and never be dependant of anyone for their needs. And these expectations are in no way unrealistic. Who would want live a boring monotonous life even if one turns 70?
However, with ageing, certain factors can limit ones mobility. One of the most common factor is ageing of the spine. Problems like back and neck pain, Lumbar canal stenosis, osteoporosis, osteoporotic vertebral fractures, Cervical spondylosis, Myelopathy occur frequently in senior citizens. At times, senior citizens may even suffer from spine infections and cancer where in the bones of the spine get weakened and become a source of pain. These disorders may even cause severe pain in the arms or legs, weakness, imbalance while walking and at times even loss of control over urine and motions. Altogether, these issues may have a negative effect on ones physical and mental well being. Time and again it has been observed that there is a rapid decline in health and wellbeing of elderly people if they become home bound or bed bound for any reason.
The good news is that most of these spine problems can be taken care of with simple measures like activity modification, ergonomic correction, spine specific exercises, medications and certain dietary modifications. A very few percentage of these patients may need a surgery to decompress the spinal nerves or to treat a fractured vertebra. Even in cases of spine cancers, the treatment modalities have evolved over the years and spine surgeons or spine specialists can successfully treat the involved spine segment with relative ease.
Elderly people may be suffering from diabetes, hypertension, thyroid and heart diseases. In such cases, though the general risk on any surgery in elderly may be higher than a young healthy person, they absolute risk of anything going wrong in a surgery is still very small. In fact, avoiding a surgery and continuing medications for a long time may be dangerous. Many pain medications if taken for long time can cause permanent damage to the kidneys and liver.
Modern anaesthesia, operation theatre facilities and surgical skills have made these surgeries safer than ever before. Depending on the complexity of the problem and type of surgery, patients can expect to get discharged from the hospital within 4-5 days of surgery. Many of minimally invasive spine surgery procedures can also be done on day care basis wherein patients can go home on the same day after the procedure. Patients can now expect to resume active lifestyle within 1 - 2 weeks after Spine surgery.
Today, we live in a world of possibilities. Don't let the Spine problems come in way of your parents or grandparents happiness. Let them age gracefully and enjoy their second innings. Seek help at the right time.
Dr. Mayur Kardile
Spine Specialist in Pune
For Appointment call: +91 777 404 0002