Backache

Updated 27 June 2014

Back pain with bladder problems

You’ll need emergency surgery because something is pressing on your spinal cord and is affecting the nerves to your bladder and sexual organs.

What should you do about the pain? And if you need an op, what are the available procedures? We've put together a guide to help you determine what could work for you.
BY BETINA LOUW AND THE HEALTH24 TEAM for YOU Pulse magazine

You have back pain and are experiencing loss of bladder or bowel control

You’ll need emergency surgery because something is pressing on your spinal cord and is affecting the nerves to your bladder and sexual organs. It could be a displaced vertebra, a tumour, a blood clot or even a spinal cord infection. The pressure must be relieved immediately or your bladder function could be permanently impaired. Fortunately this condition is fairly rare.

The operation that will be performed is a laminectomy, which involves the removal of the rear of a vertebra (the lamina) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

PROCEDURES FROM SIMPLEST TO MOST COMPLEX PATIENT'S AVERAGE AGE DURATION RECOVERY TIME SUCCESS RATE TOTAL COST
Implant of VERTEBRAL SPACERS (interspinous prosthesis)

A silicon or titanium strut is implanted at the back of the spine to support a herniated disc.

30-55 years 1 hour 6 weeks 70% R55 000
REPLACEMENT OF A HERNIATED CARTILAGINOUS DISC with a titanium one

The damaged disc is removed and a metal one inserted. The surgery is done through the stomach or neck, which makes any follow-up surgery extremely risky.

20-60 years About 2 hours 4-6 weeks 80% R80 000
SPINAL FUSION The vertebrae are permanently connected above and below a damaged disc by means of screws and a bone transplant. 30-65 years 3-4 hours 6-12 weeks 70% R80 000 - R100 000


Implant of vertebral spacers


Spine implant


Spinal fusion

(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, Autumn 2008. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)

 

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Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics. Read more here.

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