Published: Aug. 26, 2010
Updated: Aug. 26, 2010
Duke Medical Minutes are produced by local sports radio affiliates, and allow Duke specialists to give a brief snapshot into health offerings at Duke.
In this episode, Chris Brown, MD, discusses back pain and back surgery.
Announcer: We’re talking with Dr. Chris Brown, assistant professor at Duke Orthopaedic Spine Center, about backs.
When you hear back surgery, that’s a pretty scary thought, but that’s not usually the case for patients that you see.
Brown: No, it isn’t. The average spine patient -- with our minimally invasive techniques -- it’s now almost become an outpatient surgery. It’s safer with much quicker rehab.
Announcer: Now, when you talk about minimally invasive, I mean, you’re out and what -- two weeks -- when you’re really back in action?
Brown: You come in and the surgery usually takes about an hour, you go home that same day, and you’re back to unrestricted activity at seven to 10 days.
Announcer: We got our guy listeners, who are out golfing, maybe playing basketball -- rec-wise. With that type of injury, what are we talking about?
Brown: Those patients don’t need any type of surgical intervention. What they need is the trainer to give them a core muscle-strengthening program to get their back and stomach muscles in shape. It’ll help with the symptoms and it’ll prevent them from ever hurting it again when they go back out with their buddies doing recreational activities.
Announcer: Now, when do we get to surgery? Are we talking a pinched nerve?
Brown: Pinched nerves -- a lot of people refer to it as sciatica -- so when patients get pain shooting down, radiating down, the leg -- those are the patients that may need surgery -- often they don’t. Only 10 to 15 percent of them will go on to surgery. The patients that have nerve problems are the ones that generally go to the surgical OR.