The implicit goal of disc herniation surgery is to alleviatenerve compression and inflammation that tends to occuras a result of the disc rupture. This type of procedure canbe attempted in a number of different ways, ranging froma minimally invasive technique to much more involvedopen spine surgery. It depends entirely on thecause, location, and severity of the disc herniation andthe patient’s specific condition. Additionally, this type ofsurgery is considered a treatment of last resort forindividuals who have exhausted all other moreconservative treatment methods or who suffer fromdebilitating pain.
What is a Herniated Disc?A herniated disc refers to a condition in the spinal column that can develop inindividuals of nearly all ages and health. The vertebrae that comprise the spinalcolumn are cushioned and separated by thick, spongy intervertebral discs that act asshock absorbers for the spine. Each disc is made of a tough outer shell that is knownas the annulus fibrosus and a gel-like inner disc material known as the nucleuspulposus. A disc herniation is a condition wherein a tear develops in the annulusfibrosus, which allows the nucleus pulposus to escape the confines of the disc andenter the spinal column.While this condition may sound serious, the truth is that a disc herniation is anexceedingly common ailment that nearly everyone will deal with at some point intheir life. What’s more, many individuals develop herniated intervertebral discswithout ever knowing it. This is because herniated discs are often asymptomatic inand of themselves. A disc tear can develop and heal itself without the individual everknowing it. Disc degeneration becomes symptomatic when extruded disc material orthe disc wall itself comes in contact with a spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself. In thisinstance, treatment of disc herniation could more accurately be called treatment fornerve compression.
Initial TreatmentThe good news when it comes to a ruptured disc is that in mostcases, disc herniation surgery won’t be required. More often thannot, the symptoms that arise from nerve compression in the back orneck can be sufficiently managed with a regimen ofnoninvasive, conservative treatment. The trick is finding the rightcombination of treatments to provide you with the relief that yourequire, and the only way to be sure that you are using taking the rightapproach is to work closely with your doctor or spine specialist. That’sbecause while there are a tremendous variety of viable treatmentoptions currently available, the wrong techniques may prove entirelyineffective or even make your condition worse. However, generallyspeaking, a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(over-the-counter or prescription), stretching or physical therapy, andhot/cold therapy tend to prove effective over the course of severalweeks or months.
Surgical OptionsIn the event that conservative treatment fails to provideyou with the pain relief that you require, disc herniationsurgery may be considered. In this instance, there are stillseveral different types of procedures that you may be acandidate for depending on specific circumstances.Traditionally, individuals who suffered from a herniateddisc were resigned to an open spine surgery, such asspinal fusion. This procedure requires the totalimmobilization of the affected area, which means apermanent sacrifice in flexibility in that region of the backor neck. The deteriorated intervertebral disc is completelyexcised and replaced with the graft, while the adjacentvertebrae are fused together with surgical hardware.
Other Treatment OptionsAlternatively, in recent years, advanceshave been made in endoscopictechnology, which have allowed for a risein minimally invasive spine procedures.In some instances, the nerve can bedecompressed on an outpatientbasis, providing the individual with therelief they require without having tosacrifice any flexibility or mobility.To learn more about the various discherniation surgery and treatmentoptions available, speak with a doctorabout your specific condition.