Treatment of a herniated disc is typically attempted one of three ways: non-surgically,traditional open back surgery, or through a minimally invasive procedure. And while all three treatment plans strive to accomplish the same goal – nerve decompression – they are starkly different in style.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the soft, spongy intervertebral discs that cushion the spine becomes ruptured and swells or bulges out of its resting place between the vertebrae. While the condition is not necessarily symptomatic itself, problems arise when extruded disc material irritates, pinches or impinges one of the neighboring nerve roots. The resulting nerve compression can lead to a variety of symptoms, known collectively as radiculopathy, including: local, chronic neck or back pain, traveling pain, muscle weakness, numbness, stiff neck, tingling and more.
Steps for herniated disc treatment
The first step of treating a herniated disc is to correctly identify the origin, location and severity of the symptomatic pad. Usually, some form of medical imagery is required to absolutely confirm the condition. With the prognosis is hand, a physician typically will attempt to manage the symptoms of the herniated disc conservatively, or non-surgically. This treatment plan can last for several weeks and usually incorporates a combination of rest, strength and stretching exercises, painkillers, back or neck braces, and heat or ice packs.
In the unlikely event that the pain or neurological symptoms have not been sufficiently managed by conservative treatments, a doctor may recommend surgery as a last resort. In this case, patients generally have two types of surgery available to them: open back and minimally invasive. With open back surgery, the herniated disc is removed through a large incision, and the affected vertebrae are fused together with hardware and grafts. This massively invasive procedure removes the problem, but also requires lengthy recovery, even longer rehabilitation, overnight hospitalization and a lot of patience.
Alternative to open back surgery
Conversely, Laser Spine Institute is proud to offer a gentle alternative in minimally invasive spine surgery. Unlike open back procedures, our award-winning team of spinal surgeons removes the portion of the herniated disc that is causing nerve compression with a small computer-assisted, state-of-the-art laser in a procedure known as a discectomy. This surgery is extremely precise and is actually normally conducted as an outpatient procedure.
To learn even more about herniated disc treatment, and for a review of your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.