Even today, many people—including some health professionals—believe that back surgery is a high-risk procedure. While back surgery should be seen as a major event it isn’t “risky” and the results can be anticipated with some certainty. This is particularly true when surgery is being done by a properly trained surgeon for the right reasons. The actual risks are specific to the type and extent of surgery and should be discussed with your surgeon.
The single greatest concern among patients considering spine surgery is a fear of becoming paralyzed. Paralysis is caused by an injury to the spinal cord. The cord fills the spinal canal down to about the bottom of the ribs. Below that point the canal contains only nerve roots. For the surgeries discussed on BackCareCanada.ca the local loss of power from single nerve damage is a risk but generalized paralysis is impossible.
Even in the best of hands, complications occur. But most of them can be handled successfully with no lasting damage. The key message here is that even though the risks are small, the potential benefits should outweigh the hazards. This should always be discussed with your surgeon.