When to consider a herniated disc operation

A herniated disc operation is usually reserved for those who have exhausted all other nonsurgical treatment options and continue to experience significant neck pain, back pain or other related symptoms. Even still, surgical treatment can be considered elective, and it is up to the patient to balance his or her discomfort with the limitations and potential risks associated with open spine surgery. There are also safe and effective alternatives to open spine surgery, such as the minimally invasive spine procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. For qualified individuals, pain relief from a herniated disc can be accomplished in an outpatient procedure.

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc is a condition that develops in the spinal column. In the spine, adjacent vertebrae are cushioned and separated by thick, spongy pads that are known as the intervertebral discs (discs between vertebrae). Each disc is made of a gel-like inner disc material (the nucleus pulposus) and a thick outer wall (the annulus fibrosus). When a tear develops in the annulus fibrosus and the nucleus pulposus seeps into the spinal canal, it is said that the patient has a herniated disc (or ruptured disc).

This condition can cause painful symptoms to develop if:

  • The nerves that support the outer portion of a disc wall are irritated or damaged by inner disc material
  • The wall or inner disc material comes in contact with the spinal cord or a nerve root

Surgery

The goal of a herniated disc operation is to remove the source of the patient’s pain. For instance, if the annulus fibrosus is irritating a spinal nerve, the portion of the disc material at fault will be removed. Or, if the disc is badly ruptured, it may be removed entirely and the adjacent vertebrae fused together in a surgery known as spinal fusion. Some of these surgeries are highly invasive and require a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation that the patient will need to go through as he or she attempts to return to full strength.

A minimally invasive alternative

For some individuals, an invasive herniated disc operation isn’t the only option for lasting pain relief. At Laser Spine Institute, for example, we offer state-of-the-art minimally invasive procedures, which are designed to alleviate discomfort without the increased risks and lengthy rehabilitation^ frequently associated with open spine surgery. These benefits come from the small incisions that our surgeons use in our procedures to avoid unnecessary muscle cutting and scar tissue. To learn more about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures, contact us today to speak to one of our Spine Care Consultants and see how you may be a candidate.

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