When to consider a surgical procedure to treat a herniated disc

By Michael Perry, M.D.

In most cases, a surgical herniated disc procedure is only recommended as a last resort if you have exhausted all other treatment options and are still not experiencing a satisfying level of pain relief. For many, a plan of conservative, nonsurgical techniques can provide required pain relief over the course of several weeks or months. Treatment options do vary from patient to patient based on the exact cause and location of the condition, overall health of the patient and other factors. By learning more about a herniated disc and the treatment options available for it, you can work more closely with your doctor to make an informed decision about your care.

What is a herniated disc?

In the spine, vertebrae are separated by rubbery discs that provide cushioning and allow your back to bend and flex. Each disc is made of a thick outer shell and a gel-like center. A herniated disc occurs when a tear develops in the shell — usually related to natural aging and degeneration — causing material from the center to seep into the spinal canal. This condition isn’t always painful unless the extruded part of the disc interferes with the spinal cord or nerves exiting the spine. Common chronic symptoms include:

  • Local neck or back pain
  • Burning pain that radiates along the affected nerve
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness and limited movement

The goal of a herniated disc procedure

The first step after diagnosis of a herniated disc is usually a round of conservative treatment. A combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hot/cold therapy and low-impact exercises are options that bring pain relief and improved mobility for many.

If conservative treatment has not brought a return to a good quality of life, you may be referred to a surgical specialist to explore a herniated disc procedure. The prospect of traditional open back surgery can be a source of anxiety due to the long recovery times or complications associated with this type of surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative to treating conditions like a herniated disc with our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.^ We can also treat severe cases of disc damage that require spinal fusion with our minimally invasive stabilization surgeries.

To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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