Prolapsed disc — when to consider surgery treatment

A prolapsed disc, also known as a herniated disc or “slipped disc”, occurs when a disc in the spine breaks open and fragments due to constant pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. While the actual act of the disc breaking open is not painful, pain can occur if a fragment of the disc impacts a nerve root nearby in the spinal canal.

Many times, the pain and symptoms caused by a prolapsed or herniated disc can be effectively treated through conservative therapies. Conservative therapies are non-surgical treatments that aim to reduce pain by stretching and strengthening the spine to relieve the pressure on the damaged disc. These types of treatment include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, exercises and chiropractic care. Other methods of conservative therapy include pain medication and acupuncture.

If you have been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc (herniated disc), you may be wondering if you should start considering a 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 reach out to our Care Team at 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 physician about your concerns and continued pain. Many conservative therapies can be combined to increase your pain relief, and your physician will be able to create a new conservative treatment regimen for you to follow.

However, if several months of your new regimen also do not provide lasting relief, it may be time to consider a surgical treatment option. Before you determine whether or not 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 (herniated disc) have the option to choose between traditional open back surgery and 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.

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 incision cut in the back, tearing through the muscles surrounding the spine. By cutting through these muscles, traditional open back surgery has a higher risk of excessive blood loss and infection than 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 an extra two or three 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. Unlike traditional open back surgery that uses highly invasive techniques to access the spine, our minimally invasive surgery is performed through a small incision (about 1-inch) that does not affect the surrounding muscles or soft tissue. We offer two types of minimally invasive surgery: minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery.

To treat a prolapsed or herniated 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 surgeons might perform a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. During this procedure, the entire damaged disc is removed and replaced with an implant to relieve pressure on the nerve root and stabilize the spine.

For more information about the treatment options available to you or about the minimally invasive surgery that has earned a 96 patient satisfaction score^, please contact our Care Team today. We are here to help you find pain relief so you can return to your life.