How to treat a herniated disc

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 spills into the spinal canal. If the inner fluid impacts a nerve root in the spinal canal, the patient may experience symptoms of local, chronic neck or back pain, traveling pain, muscle weakness, numbness, stiff neck, tingling and more.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your physician to determine whether or not you have a herniated disc. If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc, you should begin to research the treatment options available to you. While conservative, non-surgical methods of treatment work effectively for other spine conditions, they are less likely to be effective to treat a herniated disc because non-surgical treatment cannot repair a broken disc.

As you research the treatment options recommended for a herniated disc, we encourage you to reach out to our Care 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 treatment option for a herniated disc. This type of surgery 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 of about 4 – 6 inches made in the back. Through this incision, the surgeon will cut and tear 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 impacting the nerve root and causing the pain. In some severe cases of herniated disc, the surgeon will perform a fusion surgery. This requires the surgeon to remove the entire diseased 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.

A safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery^

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Our minimally invasive procedures have a 96 patient satisfaction score^. Our surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures in one of our seven world-class surgery centers across the country.

Our minimally invasive decompression procedure and minimally invasive stabilization procedure begin the same way. The surgeon will make a small incision about an inch in length in the back. Through this incision, the surgeon will access the spine while avoiding disrupting the surrounding muscles and soft tissue. Once the spine is accessed, the surgeon will remove a portion of the diseased disc to release the impacted nerve in the spinal canal. This is called our minimally invasive decompression surgery. If the surgeon is performing a minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the entire herniated disc will be removed and replaced with an implant to immediately stabilize the spine.

The type of surgery you receive will be discussed with you prior to your operation and will be determined by a review of your MRI report and physical evaluation. The standard recovery time for both procedures is 12 weeks, with many patients returning to work within two weeks after surgery.

To learn even more about herniated disc treatment, and for a review of your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.