When it comes to spinal health, few conditions can be as debilitating as herniated discs. These discs, which act as shock absorbers between our vertebrae, can bulge or rupture over time, leading to nerve compression and excruciating pain. Fortunately, modern medicine offers effective solutions, and one of the most common is herniated disc surgery.
Let’s learn more about this surgery and explore where you can go for this advanced surgery in Colorado.
Understanding Herniated Discs
Before delving into the specifics of herniated disc surgery, it’s crucial to understand what a herniated disc is and how it affects your body. The spine consists of a series of vertebrae stacked on top of one another, with intervertebral discs between them.
These discs are made up of a tough outer layer and a gel-like inner core. Over time, wear and tear or sudden trauma can cause the outer layer to weaken or tear, allowing the inner core to bulge or rupture.
This condition, known as a herniated disc or slipped disc, can put pressure on nearby nerves. The symptoms of this condition are:
Diagnosis and Assessment
The road to relief from herniated disc pain begins with an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect you have a herniated disc, it’s essential to seek medical evaluation promptly.
Doctors typically use a combination of methods, including a thorough physical examination and imaging techniques, to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of nerve compression. You can expect to undergo:
- CT scans
Conservative Treatment Options
In many cases, conservative treatment options are the first line of defense against herniated disc pain. These treatments may include;
- Physical therapy
- Pain medications
- Epidural injections
These methods can provide relief for some patients but might not address the root cause of the problem. If conservative approaches fail to improve your condition or if your symptoms worsen, surgery may be your best option.
Types of Herniated Disc Surgery
Herniated disc surgery aims to alleviate nerve compression and restore spinal stability. There are several surgical options available, each with its own set of benefits and risks. The two most common procedures are microdiscectomy and discectomy.
Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure designed to remove the herniated portion of the disc. During the operation, the surgeon makes a small incision and uses specialized instruments to access the affected disc.
By carefully removing the herniated material, pressure on the nerves is relieved, resulting in reduced back pain and improved function. Microdiscectomy is known for its quick recovery times and high success rates, making it a preferred option for many patients.
Discectomy is a more extensive procedure compared to microdiscectomy. In this surgery, the entire disc is removed, not just the herniated portion. This may be necessary in cases where the disc is severely damaged or if there is instability in the spine.
While discectomy provides comprehensive relief, it may require a longer recovery period.
In a spinal fusion, your spine surgeon will remove the herniated disc. They will then fuse the adjacent vertebrae using a bone graft or artificial materials. This procedure is typically reserved for more severe cases or when there is instability in the spine.
Relieving Nerve Compression
The primary goal of herniated disc surgery is to alleviate nerve compression. When a disc herniates, it can press against spinal nerves, causing pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Surgery removes the source of compression and lets the affected nerves recover. Decreasing pressure on the nerves also decreases a patient’s pain and other symptoms.
Preparing for Surgery
If you and your healthcare provider decide that herniated disc surgery is the best course of action, there are several steps to prepare for the procedure.
First, you’ll consult with a surgeon who will thoroughly explain the surgical process and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Pre-operative preparations may include:
- Discontinuing certain medications
- Checking into an overnight stay at a hospital
- Arranging transportation to and from the hospital or surgical center.
Post-Surgery Recovery and Rehabilitation
After herniated disc surgery, recovery and rehabilitation are necessary to ensure the best possible outcome. The immediate post-operative period involves close monitoring for complications and pain management. You may be able to go home the same day or require a short hospital stay.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises will be essential in the weeks following surgery to regain strength and flexibility. Your surgeon and rehabilitation team will work with you to create a personalized recovery plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Risks and Complications
While herniated disc surgery is generally safe and effective, like any medical procedure, it carries some risks. Potential complications may include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or anesthesia-related issues.
Following your surgeon’s pre-and post-operative instructions is crucial to minimize these risks. If you experience any unexpected symptoms or complications during your recovery, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Board-Certified Spine Surgeon in Colorado Springs
Are you looking for a reputable facility to treat your spine problem? Look no further than Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery. We focus on advanced microsurgical treatment for a wide range of neurological issues as well as minimally invasive surgical treatments for spinal disorders.
Our board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Szuszczewicz, specializes in general orthopedics, orthopedic trauma, and replacement surgeries.