How to treat a herniated disc — traditional versus minimally invasive spine surgery

A herniated disc occurs when a disc in the spine is compressed between two vertebrae, causing the disc to expand until the outer layer of the disc breaks and the inner fluid pushes into the spinal canal. If the inner fluid puts pressure on a nerve root in the spinal canal, a patient may experience symptoms of local chronic neck or back pain, traveling pain, muscle weakness, numbness, stiff neck and tingling.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your doctor to determine the underlying cause. If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc, you should begin to research the treatment options available to you. While nonsurgical methods of treatment, such as medication and physical therapy, are often effective, spine surgery can become a serious consideration if weeks or months of these options have been attempted without offering relief.

As you consider your surgical options for a herniated disc, we encourage you to reach out to our caring team for more information. Our goal at Laser Spine Institute is to help you find answers so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.

Traditional open back surgery for herniated disc

A traditional open back surgery is one surgical approach for a herniated disc. This type of procedure is highly invasive and is performed in a hospital setting. Patients are required to stay in the hospital two or three days after the surgery for monitored recovery due to the increased risks involved with traditional open back surgery.

The surgery begins with a large incision that cuts and tears the muscles and soft tissue to access the spine. This increases a patient’s risk of infection and excessive blood loss, as well as extends the recovery time while the muscles rebuild and heal. Once the spine is accessed, the surgeon will remove a portion of the herniated disc that is compressing the nerve root and causing the pain. In some severe cases of herniated discs, the surgeon will perform a fusion surgery. This requires the surgeon to remove the entire damaged disc and replace it with an implant or bone graft that is screwed to the two surrounding vertebrae.

The recovery time for these two procedures is three to six months, with some patients waiting a year before being able to return to daily activities.

Minimally invasive spine surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^

Our surgeons perform a range of minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can treat a herniated disc on an outpatient basis. These procedures involve a small incision and the use of muscle-sparing techniques. Once the spine is accessed, a decompression procedure will involve the surgeon removing a portion of the damaged disc to relieve pressure on a pinched spinal nerve. If the surgeon is performing a minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the entire herniated disc will be removed and replaced with an implant such as a bone graft to immediately stabilize the spine. Minimally invasive stabilization is our outpatient approach to fusion surgery and is typically recommended in more severe cases.

To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.