If you have been experiencing back pain for months or years because of a damaged disc, it may seem like surgery is your last chance to find relief. Although hundreds of thousands of people per year determine that back surgery is the best option for them, it is still important to gather all the facts about surgeries and possible alternatives to surgery.
Naturally, you will want to try conservative, non-invasive treatments for back pain before you decide that disc surgery is the right choice for you. There is such a wide variety of conditions that affect the intervertebral discs in the back and neck, such as herniated discs, bulging discs, and osteoarthritis, that understanding your condition and what you can do to fix the problem can be confusing. First, let’s think about the anatomy of the spine. Segments of bone, called vertebrae, comprise the structure of the spinal canal. The vertebrae have a roundish opening in the middle, and are stacked in a way that allows them to form a long cylinder. At the center of this opening is the spinal cord. Between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc, which is a pad of cartilage that joins vertebrae and makes sure your spine has sufficient padding for all of its daily movements. As we age, however, these intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate. Let’s look at a conservative treatment option that your physician may suggest before talking to you about the details of disc surgery.
Many people just like you have found relief from epidural steroid injections, which are somewhat invasive to the back but help some patients avoid disc surgery. These are shots of a steroid hormone, called cortisone, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cortisone is slow-releasing, meaning it will stay at the site of damage and gradually work over a period of weeks or months. First, your physician will isolate the region of the spine affected by damage. Next, a local anesthetic will be administered so that the injection itself is less painful. Then, cortisone will be injected into the epidural space, which is the outermost space between the dura mater and the spinal column. The injection will only take a few minutes and you do not need to be put under general anesthesia. A steroid injection can be a less-invasive alternative to back disc surgery, and can help relieve pain so that you can still participate in a regimen of mild physical therapy.
If you have tried steroid injections and they have not proven effective, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure at Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Our team of experts is ready to give you more information on our revolutionary outpatient procedures, which have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover a life without pain. Contact us today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.