Q Could I suffer paralysis as a result of back surgery?
While you may suffer some loss of motion after a back injury, it is rare that a patient will suffer permanent paralysis. However, the risks and outcome of your back surgery will greatly depend on which procedure you are having, as well as the extent of damage to the spine.
Which Kinds of Back Surgery Could Cause Disability in the Future?
After you have been injured in a work accident, you may have no choice but to undergo spinal surgery. Many victims who are unable to walk, sit, or endure any movement without extreme pain will likely be referred to a surgeon for help. The most common types of surgery include:
- Spinal fusion. In this process, two or more of a patient’s vertebrae will be permanently connected (fused) together, so that the bones move as one solid piece.
- Discectomy. This procedure involves the surgical removal of either a part of, or an entire, herniated disc in the spine.
- Laminectomy. A surgeon may be able to relieve some of a patient’s pain by relieving the pressure on the spinal cord. This may be done with a laminectomy, or removal of bone tissue covering the spinal canal.
- Vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. Doctors may be able to repair damage to one or more discs by injecting bone cement into your vertebrae.
- Artificial discs. If you are not a good candidate for spinal fusion surgery, you may need to have an artificial disc created to replace the damaged vertebrae.
Unfortunately, all surgeries carry some level of risk. Since back surgery may take place close to the spinal cord, there is a greater chance of the patient suffering some form of nerve damage. You should discuss the following complications with your doctor before your surgery:
- Infection. Wound care is very important during surgical recovery, as the surgery site or the vertebrae itself may become infected, leading to longer hospital stays—even a secondary surgery.
- Spinal damage. Pressure on the spinal nerves can cause a number of complications, including limited range of motion, loss of sensation, incontinence, and pain or numbness in the legs.
- Instability. Even after surgery, patients may be unable to lift heavy objects, sit for long periods of time, and may suffer disc degeneration in the vertebrae surrounding the fusion site.
Read through our related links on this page for more ways to prepare for an upcoming surgery, or contact us to find out how we can help you get compensation for your medical bills.