Endoscopic Spinal Decompression

spine pictureThe camera has been a staple of family gatherings and reunions for generations. This isn’t the only way to use a digital camera anymore however. The lens not only gives you a perfect picture of your external features but can also capture any disharmony within you. High-resolution fiber optic cameras have completely revolutionised the surgical world by allowing us to view the insides of joints. From taking the pressure off a nerve trapped in the carpal tunnel on the wrist, to relieving the painful tingling numbness radiating from the spine, endoscopic decompression procedures have a lot to offer.

A common example of nerve compression is carpal tunnel syndrome. Here, the median nerve is compressed under the wrist ligaments causing painful tingling and/or numbness in the hands. Sports like cricket, weight lifting and games involving a racquet require excessive use of the wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in their players. When a trial of conservative medical therapy fails, surgery remains the only option. Two incisions are taken over the palm and wrist where the surgeon, using an endoscope, will dissect the transverse carpal ligament to release the compressed median nerve. With the bandages coming off in a couple of days and complete recovery within two to three weeks, the player finds himself having a firm grip on his equipment as well as his game.

Almost every player suffers from backache at some point in their professional life. Though most get away with a good physical rehabilitation program and medicines, some less fortunate ones need the aid of a good surgeon to get back to their feet. Trauma to the spine can occur due to poor body mechanics, improper stretching and overuse of the muscles which is seen in sports like football and boxing. Herniated discs, sprained ligaments and stress fractures can impair the functional capacity and hamper the performance of the sportsperson.

In the long run, the increasing severity of spinal wear and tear might require surgical intervention. When a ‘stinger’ starts to sting, you know that the compressed spinal nerves due to a herniated disc or a bone spur might be acting up. When conservative treatment modalities have been exhausted, an endoscope down the spinal cavity, guided by the hands of a skilled sports surgeon, will help calm the irritated nerve. Spinal decompression can relieve the pressure on your spine and put it back on your opponent.

Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, M.D.

References:

1) http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/hand/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-minimally-invasive-endoscopic-carpal-tunnel-release.html

2) http://www.knowyourback.org/Pages/SpinalConditions/Injuries/SportsInjuries.aspx