Surgery for a slipped disc — is it always necessary?

Surgery for a slipped disc should only be considered after a wide range of conservative treatments have been tried. Many patients are able to find relief and return to normal activity after a full course of doctor-prescribed therapies. However, if months of treatment are attempted and painful symptoms have not improved, or they have worsened, surgery will be considered.

If a slipped disc, usually diagnosed as a herniated disc, is taking you away from your family, job and activities, knowing the right time to consider surgery is important. Having knowledge of surgical and nonsurgical treatments, through the information in the following article, can give you a better chance of getting back to the quality of life you deserve.

Trying conservative treatment options for a slipped disc

Each physician will have his or her own recommendations for conservative treatments that can help you avoid the need for slipped disc surgery. You should expect some trial and error as your physician attempts different nonsurgical treatments to find out which methods are best for your needs. Common treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Gentle stretching
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which delivers a gentle electrical current to the area causing pain

Considerations for slipped disc surgery

You and your primary doctor or spine specialist should consider surgery when you both agree that viable conservative treatment has been exhausted. The important thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of surgical procedures. Traditional open back procedures have many downsides including a two- to five-day hospital stay, a lengthy recovery period and higher infection and complication rates.

In contrast, minimally invasive spine procedures are performed in an outpatient setting with a lower risk of infection and complication as well as a shorter recovery time.^ If you would like to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery for a slipped disc, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute today.

Your free MRI review* can help us determine if you may be a potential candidate for our procedures. We specialize in decompressing spinal nerves affected by degenerative spine conditions including slipped discs, bulging discs, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis. Our surgeons are able to access the spine through a less than 1-inch incision, thereby providing you with lasting relief from your condition.