Prolapsed disc surgery ordinarily is performed as a last resort after conservative treatment has failed to help manage back pain, neck pain, or other symptoms associated with intervertebral discs that have prolapsed, herniated, or ruptured. Surgery also may be recommended if patients experience disabling symptoms, leaving them unable to take care of themselves or live a full, active life.
The goal of prolapsed disc surgery is to remove intervertebral disc material that is pressing upon nerve tissue in the spinal column. In cases of a disc prolapse, one or more of the soft intervertebral discs in the spinal column has weakened, causing the outer covering of the disc to break open. When this occurs, disc matter can become displaced and push into the spinal column where the spinal cord and its nerve roots are located. Excess pressure on these sensitive nerve pathways can heighten or interrupt nerve signals, leading to extreme pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Surgery to remove this pressure in the spinal column is often called spinal decompression surgery. Procedures such as spinal fusion, disc replacement, or various forms of spinal decompression generally are considered elective, although progressive loss of neurological function can make it necessary in rare cases.
Before a doctor recommends surgery for a prolapsed disc, a patient will more than likely be directed to undergo non-surgical treatments including physical therapy, pain medications, exercise, rest, or activity modification. If pain or other symptoms persist even after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option. Before deciding to undergo surgery, a patient should become thoroughly educated about the ramifications. Traditional open back surgery for a prolapsed disc – which goes by other terms such as herniated disc, ruptured disc, or slipped disc – typically involves:
- General anesthesia
- A long hospital stay
- Inpatient physical therapy
- Lingering pain
- Months of incapacitation
- Unsightly scarring
Fortunately, many advances have been made in prolapsed disc surgery in recent years. The award-winning surgeons at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) use gentle, endoscopic techniques to perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that can help you rediscover a life without pain – and without the long, painful recovery times associated with most traditional spinal surgeries. Contact LSI to learn more and for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.