Herniated disc surgery — factors to consider before consenting to an operation
If your doctor has recommended you for elective herniated disc surgery, there are a number of factors you should consider before consenting. Maybe most importantly you should make sure your condition was properly diagnosed and that surgery is both necessary and has a high chance of a good outcome. A second opinion by a primary care doctor or spine specialist should always be sought. However, any general knowledge about herniated discs could help you make a more educated decision about whether or not herniated disc surgery is your best course of action.
What are herniated discs and what causes them?
A herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a rupture in the disc’s tougher outer shell. This can happen from a traumatic injury like a car accident, but in most cases the primary cause is the natural aging process. As we get older, the parts of our spine deteriorate due to wear from normal activity ¬¬— like running in the park or doing housework. The spinal discs, which are so crucial in supporting the back and allowing for movement, can dry out and lose elasticity. Increased pressure from the vertebrae and a weakened exterior cause the tearing and leakage that are diagnosed as a herniated disc.
How is the condition treated and when does a herniated disc require surgery?
Common symptoms of herniated discs include local pain and inflammation, as well as pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness that radiates into the limbs. A very high number of patients diagnosed with a herniated disc do not require surgery and will find needed relief from their symptoms through conservative nonsurgical treatments as recommended by a doctor. Over-the-counter medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are all common treatment options for herniated discs.
Surgery becomes an option when a full course of conservative treatment does not bring necessary relief for a good quality of life. At this point you may be referred to a surgeon who performs traditional open back procedures to treat herniated disc pain. This approach to spine surgery involves a large muscle-disrupting incision and can result in blood loss, risk of infection, overnight hospitalization as well as a long and sometimes painful recovery period.
The minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Our highly skilled surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, which means a smaller incision is required to access the herniated disc. If you have advanced disc deterioration requiring full disc removal and fusion, our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are an outpatient alternative to traditional open spinal fusions.