Will I be paralyzed after back surgery?

Myth: Spine surgery can lead to paralysis.

With any surgery, there is a risk of complications, such as blood clots, allergic reactions and infection. Yet one of the most feared complications of spine surgery—paralysis—is also one of the least likely to occur. That’s because most common spine surgeries don’t involve the spinal cord. Today’s sophisticated surgical instruments, imaging devices and monitoring equipment provide surgeons with exceptional access and views into the spine, making spine surgery safer than ever.

Pain relief is the primary goal

Typically, people consider surgery for back pain only after all other treatments have failed to provide relief. For many people, the benefit is not only less pain, but additional advantages, such as:

  • Increased activity
  • Better physical fitness
  • Improved mood
  • Less need for pain medicines with fewer drug side effects
  • Ability to go back to work
  • Increased productivity at work

Safer, less invasive surgical techniques
Technological advances have made strides in the treatment of spinal conditions by using a minimally invasive surgical technique. But it’s not just the innovation that makes it significant—it’s what it means for you:

  • Smaller incisions, usually a few smaller scars instead of one larger scar
  • Less tissue dissection
  • Less damage to surrounding muscles
  • Potential for less blood loss, quicker healing, shorter hospital stay, and less pain
  • Quicker return to daily activities

Making educated decisions

Learning about back surgery ahead of time and understanding its risks and benefits can help you decide whether it’s right for you. You have to understand the rationale behind the proposed surgery, the chances of success and associated risks and expected rehab course. If you’re considering a minimally invasive approach, you should understand that each case is considered individually, and you should consult with a spine specialist for a comprehensive evaluation.  Learn more about treatments for back pain at the UAMS Neurosurgery Clinic.