Degenerative disc disease surgery

Degenerative disc disease is the gradual deterioration of the thick discs in the spine that cushion the vertebrae. This deterioration often occurs naturally with age, but there are some prevention methods available. As we grow older, the protein and water components of our discs change, and the outer wall of these discs can weaken. This condition makes the discs more susceptible to collapse or damage, which can cause neck and back pain.

While degenerative disc disease can sometimes cause severe pain and other symptoms, it can often be treated with several months of conservative treatments. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments, as well as other nonsurgical methods:

  • Pain medication
  • Limited rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Weight loss
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Stretching and yoga

Only if these treatments are ineffective at reducing your pain and symptoms should you consider degenerative disc disease surgery.

Traditional degenerative disc disease surgery

Degenerative disc disease surgery, often called a discectomy, can be performed through two methods of surgery: traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery.

During traditional open spine surgery, a large incision is made in the neck or back to access the spine. This incision cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine, increasing the risk of excessive scar tissue that can lead to failed back surgery syndrome.

Once the spine is reached, either a portion of the degenerative disc or the entire disc is removed, relieving pressure on the pinched nerve near the spine. If the entire disc is removed, the surgeon will insert a metal cage and rods to fuse together the spine in that area — also known as a spinal fusion.

Because of the highly invasive nature of this type of procedure, patients have a higher risk of complication and a longer recovery time^ than patients who have minimally invasive spine surgery.

Minimally invasive degenerative disc disease surgery

Our minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute uses a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine. This small incision helps to avoid unnecessary damage to the muscles near the spine, allowing our patients to experience a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery time^ than patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.

While our minimally invasive discectomy is used to remove a small portion of the damaged disc — similar to the goal of a traditional open spine discectomy — our spinal fusions are performed with many advantages to the patient. Instead of using a metal cage and rods to stabilize the spine after a disc is removed, our minimally invasive stabilization procedures simply replace the damaged disc with an artificial disc in order to maintain flexibility and movement in that area of the spine.

To learn more about your options for degenerative disc disease procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We offer a no-cost MRI review* so you can find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.