Degenerative disc disease surgery is the last resort for patients whose pain from degenerative disc disease is so severe that it limits their daily activities or ability to work. It is only recommended if symptoms have not responded to nonsurgical treatments like medication, exercise, or physical therapy. If you are experiencing symptoms of chronic neck or back pain, please review our degenerative disc disease page. Then visit our degenerative disc disease exercises page to learn more about nonsurgical treatments.
There are several types of degenerative disc disease surgery. One of the most common types typically performed is a fusion, most often at the L5-S1 segment. The procedure at the L5-S1 level involves bone grafting between the transverse processes and the sacrum. This unites the bones which prevents motion and may end the pain.
A second type of degenerative disc disease surgery, interbody fusion, involves permanently joining together one or more vertebrae of the spine. Spinal fusion is a highly invasive operation requiring the excision of a significant portion of the spinal anatomy. It entails several steps: First, one or more large incisions are created in various locations. Second, the underlying muscles, tendons, ligaments and investing fascia are severed and distracted while approaching the site of actual area to be fused. Third, intervertebral disc or discs are completely removed, including the periosteum (bone covering tissue) of the endplates of the vertebra to be fused. Fourth, bone fragments from the patient’s own body or another source are packed into the void once occupied by disc. Fifth, metallic hardware devices are affixed to the vertebra and connected or linked together to securely immobilize the vertebra being fused. Sixth, the major disrupted muscles, tendons, etc., are sutured back into approximately their original position (minor structures are ignored). And seventh, the skin incisions are closed. Spinal fusion surgery requires hours to complete and involves many significant risks. After the surgery, the patient may look forward to a long (many months) and often difficult recovery period.
In some cases, patients may not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is prescribed. It is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. LSI offers efficacious procedures with shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information about Laser Spine Institute.