Neck surgery for a herniated disc

A herniated disc in the neck can be a very painful condition to endure. Because of the neck’s flexibility and ability to turn and twist, the cervical (upper) spinal region is vulnerable to developing a herniated disc and other disc conditions.

If you are suffering from the pain of a herniated disc in your neck, you understand the limitations it can bring to your daily activities. Even the most normal tasks like driving require the ability to turn the head, making it difficult to run errands or visit family. Many patients who have this condition continue to suffer because they think the only treatment option is spine surgery, but it is important to understand that surgery is generally a last-resort option. Very often, conservative treatments are able to deliver the relief necessary to return to a normal and comfortable activity level.

Herniated disc overview and conservative treatment

A herniated disc occurs when the inner material of a spinal disc begins to push through a tear in the fibrous outer layer. The discs absorb much of the shock that travels through the spine as we perform regular movements and also prevent the vertebrae themselves from rubbing against one another.

As we age, the discs lose moisture and become prone to cracks in the outer wall, which makes herniation more likely to develop as a result of continued everyday stresses or sudden injury. This condition is not always painful, with the most debilitating symptoms usually occurring if disc material compresses or irritates nerves in the spinal column.

Neck surgery is generally not initially an option when this condition is diagnosed however, since symptoms typically respond well to conservative therapies such as the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Pain medication
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Lifestyle changes like posture improvement, quitting smoking, improved nutrition and regular exercise
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Therapeutic massage

It is possible for an individual case of a herniated disc to improve and heal with time, so it is strongly recommended to commit to conservative treatment and work closely with your doctor.

When surgery is an option

Sometimes, a herniated disc continues to cause significant pain and other symptoms, even after months of conservative treatment. At this point, your physician may recommend surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we hope you will research your surgery options carefully before moving forward with a treatment. Traditional open neck surgery for a herniated disc is a highly invasive procedure that requires a large incision and significant muscle disruption. As a safer and effective alternative, we provide minimally invasive spine surgery that offers our patients a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication.^ Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision and a streamlined outpatient experience. For more information, contact us today.

To determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, we can help you receive a free MRI review.*