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Performing Spine Surgery

Spine surgery is used to diagnose and treat problems with the spine. Common types of spine surgery and treatments include:

If you or a loved one has been referred to a specialist for spine surgery in the Bay Area, Dignity Health orthopedic and neurology departments offer advanced, personal care. To meet with a spine surgeon, Find a Doctor online or call (415) 353-6400 today.

Why Spine Surgery is Performed

Doctors perform spine surgery and treatment to relieve pain and correct anatomical abnormalities of the spinal column. These conditions can occur due to aging, injury, or trauma.

Your doctor might suggest spine surgery to treat: 

  • Back or neck pain that hasn’t responded to more conservative treatments
  • Degenerated, herniated, or ruptured spinal discs
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal due to osteoarthritis
  • Numbness and tingling in the legs or arms due to spinal nerve irritation
  • Scoliosis, a disease that causes curvature of the spine
  • Spinal instability
  • Traumatic injuries of the vertebrae, including fractures
  • Tumors in the spine

What to Expect in the Bay Area

Spine surgery can either be an open surgery or a minimally invasive procedure. Most spine surgeries take about two to four hours, depending on your specific problem.

Your procedure may require the placement of screws, pins, cages, or other structures to support your spine. These instruments will remain in your spine for the rest of your life. You will likely have general anesthesia so you won’t feel any pain during the surgery.

It’s common to stay overnight in the hospital following spine surgery. However, some surgeries can be outpatient procedures at a surgical center. Your spine surgery may be performed at any of our four Bay Area hospitals — St. Mary’s Medical Center or Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, or Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. To learn more, please call (877) 647-1149.

Spine Surgery Recovery

After spine surgery at Dignity Health in the Bay Area, you will receive detailed instructions about activity level, medications, and follow-up appointments before you go home.

You may need to wear a back brace or cast to keep your spine stable while it is healing. You may also need to restrict your activity level. However, your doctor will probably encourage you to walk frequently. This helps minimize the chance of developing a blood clot in your legs.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation will be part of your recovery. You will learn how to move properly, reposition yourself, turn over in bed, sit, stand, and walk in ways that protect your spine. You’ll also learn how to avoid twisting your spine during recovery. It can take several months to fully recover.

Many people experience great relief soon after having spine surgery. However, some people have persistent, achy pain afterwards. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight will help relieve this pain. Talk with a Dignity Health doctor to learn more.

Dignity Health Bay Area hospitals offer expertise in spine surgery in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.