Surgery for a herniated disc is a procedure that many people consider because the tingling, numbness and radiating pain that accompany a herniated disc can be so debilitating. However, the choice to undergo a surgical procedure is a daunting prospect for many people, particularly when it’s surgery on the spine.
A herniated disc is one of the intervertebral discs (the cartilaginous pads between each vertebra) that has torn, and its inner, gel-like disc material is leaking into the spinal canal. The leaking itself is not typically the cause of pain – rather, the fluid blocks neural pathways and constricts nerves. These pathways are called foramina (in the plural sense), and there is one foramen that resides on either side of each vertebra. When these openings narrow, the spinal nerves cannot function, or they can become inflamed. It is this neural pressure that triggers symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness and weakness.
A common surgery for a herniated disc is spinal fusion, which is also known as spondylodesis. This is a surgery that limits mobility to try and stabilize a weakened spine. Diseased discs are removed, and then bone grafts are used to fasten two or more vertebrae together. The idea is that the vertebrae will then become one long, reinforced unit by growing together via an osteoblastic (bone growth) process. In theory, the stabilized vertebrae will not be subjected to the same daily wear and tear they did when they were free-moving, separate units. However, when spinal fusion is performed as a traditional open back surgery, the invasive nature of this surgery can result in scarring, nerve damage and a recovery period of up to a year.
If you are considering spinal fusion as a procedure for a herniated disc, Laser Spine Institute can introduce you to some minimally invasive spinal fusion alternatives that utilize advanced technology. We have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from pain, and the expedited recovery process is only one of the many benefits of minimally invasive procedures. Contact us for your MRI or CT scan review so that we can see if our procedures are right for you.