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 means that one of the intervertebral discs (the cartilaginous pads between each vertebra) 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 uses immobilization to try and stabilize a weakened spine. Diseased discs are removed, and then bone grafts and hardware (rods and screws) 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 immobilized vertebrae will not be subjected to the same daily wear and tear they did when they were free-moving, separate units. However, spinal fusion creates major structural changes to the back and neck, and some of these changes can place extra pressure on surrounding vertebrae. The invasive nature of this surgery also can result in scarring, nerve damage, blood loss and a recovery period of up to a year.
If you are considering spinal fusion as a procedure for herniated disc, Laser Spine Institute (LSI) can introduce you to some minimally invasive spinal fusion alternatives that utilize lasers and the latest endoscopic technology. We have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover a life without pain, and the expedited recovery process is only one of the many benefits of endoscopy. Contact us for a free review of your MRI or CT scan so that we can see if our procedures are right for you.