Q:

What does laser spine surgery treat?

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Laser spine surgery is used to treat spinal pain, remove damaged parts of spinal discs, cut away growths on the spine and fuse vertebrae to strengthen weak spines. Laser spine surgery typically relies on techniques that minimize damage to surrounding tissue. This reduces blood loss and encourages faster healing. However, like other forms of surgery, laser spine surgery can result in complications if not done properly.

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The use of lasers for back surgery remains controversial. According to David Armstrong of Bloomberg, no independent research has been conducted to prove the superiority of laser back surgery over competing treatments. The procedure is typically marketed as a novel, high-tech treatment despite the fact that it has been used in a number of hospitals and private practices since 1973. Armstrong cites insurance data that shows higher-than-average malpractice claims for laser spine surgeries.

The Orthopedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, an organization headquartered at Greenwich, C.T., has voiced similar sentiments. In place of laser spine surgery, ONS recommends lifestyle changes, physical therapy, exercise and anti-inflammatory medication, among other options.

However, the Virginia Spine Center seems to dispute this viewpoint. According to the organization, laser spine surgery works, at least for some patients. The center does admit that the procedure is not suitable for everyone with back pain.

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