Cervical disc herniation and fusion surgery

You’ve had chronic neck pain for months. Your doctor has prescribed a conservative treatment plan including pain medication, specialized exercises, and the use of warm and cold compresses. Maybe you’ve even gone to see a chiropractor or undergone acupuncture, but no matter what you’ve tried, your herniated disc continues to cause significant neck pain. Now your doctor recommends a more aggressive treatment for your cervical disc herniation – fusion and disc removal. What should you do?

Cervical disc herniation facts

A herniated disc can occur almost anywhere in the spine due to trauma, degenerative disc disease, or poor lifting techniques. When a disc herniates, its outer lining ruptures and allows the gel-like material inside the disc to escape, potentially pressing against the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. This is what causes neck pain and other symptoms (like numbness or tingling). Ordinarily, a herniated disc will heal over time, especially if the patient adheres to a conservative treatment regimen. For some people, though, conservative treatment will not provide sufficient pain relief and their doctors may recommend surgery.

Disc fusion surgery facts

In a cervical discectomy and fusion procedure, the surgeon will access the cervical (neck) spine through an incision in the front of the neck. Once the incision is open, the surgeon will remove the herniated disc bit by bit, remove any bone spurs on the vertebrae, remove the surface layer of the vertebrae, and insert a bone graft. This latter step is intended to promote bone growth that will fuse the vertebrae together; in the meantime, though, they are held together by a metal plate that the surgeon screws into the vertebrae.

Clearly, this procedure is very invasive and will result in a great deal of postoperative pain and a lengthy recovery. A hospital stay of at least two or three days is standard, and a gradual return to activity — over several months — is necessary.

An alternative

Highly invasive surgery may not be necessary, however, since Laser Spine Institute provides a minimally invasive alternative: procedures that allow our expert surgeons to access your herniated disc through an incision that is less than half an inch long. The procedure causes so little disruption to the body that many of our patients are able to leave the same day and return to full activity only a few days later.^

If your doctor believes that your cervical disc herniation requires fusion and disc removal, contact us today. Let us review your CT scan or MRI, and tell you more about how Laser Spine Institute can help you rediscover your life without back pain.

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