Alternatives to treating herniated discs with fusion surgery
Being diagnosed with a herniated disc can be both confusing and alarming. Maybe you aren’t sure what your next step for treatment should be and you want to avoid spine surgery at all costs. Maybe you are still a little unsure about what your diagnosis means and you have some questions about your condition and the changes it may have on your lifestyle.
Many patients diagnosed with a herniated disc are able to find lasting pain relief without undergoing spinal fusion. Your physician will most likely recommend a series of conservative treatments to help you find pain relief. These conservative treatments are nonsurgical methods of reducing the pressure on the pinched nerve in your spine. When a disc herniates (or tears) under the pressure from the surrounding vertebrae, a piece of the torn disc can press against a nerve in the spinal canal. When this happens, the nerve sends pain signals along the nerve pathway, extending from your spine to your nearby extremity.
The conservative treatments your physician will recommend aim to relieve the pressure on your pinched nerve by lengthening, stretching and strengthening the spine. This helps the damaged disc to move back into alignment in the spine and also increases circulation to the herniated disc so the body can begin to heal it.
Conservative methods of treatment
The most common methods of conservative treatment for a herniated disc include:
- Pain medication — Analgesics such as acetaminophen, and anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen are a good place to start; more severe pain may call for stronger, prescription medicines.
- Physical therapy — Under the supervision of a licensed therapist, a patient can combat symptoms and learn how to prevent future injury.
- Exercise — After receiving proper clearance from a physician, stretching, weight training and other exercises can be used to strengthen back muscles.
- Behavior modification — Eliminate activities that worsen the symptoms.
- Alternative methods — This includes massage, chiropractic therapy, traction, contour beds and pillows, acupuncture and acupressure.
An alternative surgery to traditional spine fusion
If chronic pain continues after at least several months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization procedure can help treat your herniated disc.
Unlike traditional spine fusion, our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through a small incision that does not disturb the muscles surrounding the spine. This allows our patients to experience a safer, more effective surgery with a shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back surgery. For patients with a herniated disc, our minimally invasive discectomy removes a small portion of the damaged disc to release pressure on the pinched nerve that is causing your pain and symptoms. In some cases, the disc may have to be removed entirely and replaced with an artificial disc and/or bone grafts to stabilize the spine.
To see if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute and request a review of your MRI or CT scan from one of our spine care experts.