When to consider surgery for a prolapsed disc

A prolapsed disc, also known as a herniated disc or slipped disc, occurs when a portion of a disc moves to a location where it shouldn’t be and the disc’s gel-like center leaks into the spinal canal through a tear. While the actual prolapse of the disc is not painful, symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and weakness can develop if the disc impacts a nerve root nearby in the spinal canal. In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction may also occur, which requires immediate medical attention.

Many times, the symptoms caused by a prolapsed disc can be effectively treated through conservative therapies, which are nonsurgical treatments that aim to reduce pain by stretching and strengthening the spine in order to relieve the pressure on the damaged disc. These types of treatment include physical therapy, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, low-impact exercises and chiropractic care. Other methods of conservative treatment include pain medication, ultrasound therapy and acupuncture.

If you have been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, you may be wondering if you should start considering spine surgery to treat your condition. There are several steps that you should consider before undergoing spine surgery. As you continue your journey to wellness, we encourage you to contact Laser Spine Institute for information about the treatment options available to you and the next steps to find pain relief.

Next steps after conservative treatment for a prolapsed disc

If you find that the conservative treatments mentioned above have not offered you any lasting pain relief, you may want to consider moving to a different treatment option. The first step is to consult your doctor about your concerns and continued pain. Many conservative therapies can be combined to increase your pain relief

Your doctor will be able to create a new conservative treatment regimen for you to follow. However, if several weeks or months of your new regimen also do not provide lasting relief, it may be time to consider a surgical treatment option. Before you determine if surgery is right for you, you must first research your surgical options and decide if you want to move forward with the procedure.

Surgical treatment for a prolapsed disc

Patients seeking surgical treatment for a prolapsed disc have the option to choose between traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery. We strongly encourage you to research both options thoroughly before deciding on the procedure with which you would like to proceed. For instance, traditional open back surgery must be performed in a hospital setting to compensate for the highly invasive and high-risk nature of the procedure.

The surgery begins with a large 6- to 8-inch incision in the back, tearing through the muscles surrounding the spine. By cutting through these muscles, traditional open back surgery has more surgical blood loss and a higher risk of infection compared to other methods of surgery. Additionally, a patient’s recovery period must now be extended to allow time for the muscles to heal and rebuild themselves so they can help support the spine. Once the procedure is completed, patients are required to stay between two to five days in the hospital for monitored recovery.

Minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, offering less surgical blood loss and a reduced risk of infection.^ Unlike traditional open back surgery that uses highly invasive techniques, our minimally invasive surgery is performed through a small incision that does not affect the surrounding muscles or soft tissue. We offer two types of minimally invasive surgery — minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization.

To treat a prolapsed disc, our minimally invasive decompression surgery would remove a small portion of the broken disc to release pressure on the nerve root in the spinal canal. This is effective for moderate prolapsed discs. For more severe prolapsed discs, our board-certified+ surgeons might perform a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. During this procedure, the entire damaged disc is removed and replaced with an implant to relieve the pressure on the nerve root and stabilize the spine, thereby providing you with lasting relief from your symptoms.

For more information about the treatment options available to you, or about the minimally invasive surgery that has earned a patient satisfaction score of 96,^ please reach out to us today. Through a free MRI review,* we can determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient prolapsed disc surgery. Our team is here to help you find pain relief so you can return to the activities you have been missing out on.