In most cases, prolapsed disc surgery is usuallyreserved for individuals who have failed to respondto all nonsurgical treatment options. With theexception of rare emergency situations, a regimenof conservative techniques is usually attempted forseveral weeks or even months before the subject ofsurgery is considered. That said, for a selectsegment of the population, surgical interventionrepresents the best option the patient has toovercome their chronic pain once and for all.
The Spinal AnatomyIn the spine, adjacent vertebrae are cushioned and separatedby thick pads that are known as the intervertebral discs. Thesediscs allow the vertebrae to articulate against one anothercomfortably and are instrumental in the regular movementthat we require from our backs and necks. However, asresilient as the intervertebral discs are, they are stillsusceptible to deterioration and damage. Each disc is made ofa thick, fibrous outer shell known as the annulus fibrosus anda gelatinous nuclear material, which is called the nucleuspulposus. A prolapsed disc refers to a situation where a tearhas developed in the annulus fibrosus, allowing the nucleuspulposus to seep into the spinal column. Many people alsoknow this condition colloquially as a herniated disc, ruptureddisc, or slipped disc.
Why a Prolapsed Disc can Cause DiscomfortWhile a prolapsed disc may seem like a seriouscondition, it is actually quite common and manypeople even experience a herniated disc withoutknowing it. However, this condition can also leadto a number of different symptoms dependingon the cause, severity, and location of the issue.For starters, very small nerves innervate the discwall of the intervertebral disc. When thesenerves are irritated, they can lead to localizedpain in the back or the neck. Additionally, whenherniated disc material is allowed to enter thespinal column, it may come in contact with thespinal cord or any of the nerve roots in theregion, which can lead to nerve compression. Itis this compression that commonly leads tochronic pain and other symptoms in the body.
Initial Treatment OptionsIf it is determined that you suffer from a prolapsed disc, surgery is usually thelast option. More commonly, a physician will work with you to develop acarefully designed treatment regimen that is meant to alleviate the nervecompression behind your discomfort. This can be attempted a number ofdifferent ways, but the basic goals are to manage your pain in the short-termwhile reducing strain on the spinal column and increasing your spinal flexibility.There are all sorts of different conservative treatments that may berecommended, depending on the prognosis, diagnosis, and the specific patient.More often than not, some combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(either over-the-counter or prescription), low-impact exercise, stretchingtechniques, hot/cold therapy, and other similar techniques will berecommended to great effect. Some patients also will enlist complementary oralternative medicines, such as deep tissue massage, acupuncture, and herbalsupplements to assist in their treatment, although these methods tend to be thesource of some controversy in the mainstream medical field.
SurgeryShould several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments failto offer you the relief you require, prolapsed disc surgery maybe considered. The goal of this type of procedure is to reducethe source of the nerve compression or irritation that is behindyour symptoms. Sometimes, this can be something as simple asphysically removing the herniated disc material from the spinalcolumn and sealing up the torn disc. In other cases, where theintervertebral disc is severely deteriorated, it may need to beremoved entirely. When this is the case, the disc will need to bereplaced with a bone graft and stabilized with surgicalhardware. Fortunately, there are a number of differentprolapsed disc surgery options that are available, depending onyour specific circumstance. To learn more, research youroptions and speak with spine specialists in your community.