Intervertebral discs sit in between the bones that make up your spinal column. They have a tough outer shell with a spongy center that absorbs shock. If the outer shell tears suddenly or becomes weakened, the soft core can herniate, pushing through into your spinal canal.
Traumatic herniation can occur after a serious accident, but most people suffer herniated discs as a result of degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease arises as you get older, when your discs lose their moisture content. The outer shell of these stiffer, drier discs often develop weak spots through which the inner core can protrude.
A herniated disc frequently causes back and neck pain, mainly because the protruding core irritates or compresses the spinal nerves. Herniated discs can cause problems like spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) and sciatica.
To relieve pressure on the spinal nerves, your surgeon at Advanced Neurosurgery might recommend herniated disc decompression surgery.
Not everyone with a herniated disc requires surgery. In fact, most patients recover well with less invasive treatments, such as activity modification and rest, medication, and physical therapy. For patients whose symptoms persist, epidural steroid injections often provide long-term relief.
However, for a small number of patients, these treatments fail to achieve a sufficient reduction in pain. The next step is surgery to physically remove the pressure on your spinal nerves.
There are several ways to achieve herniated disc decompression:
Microdiscectomy involves the surgical removal of the portion of the disc that's pressing on your spinal nerves. Your Advanced Neurosurgery surgeon usually performs this procedure using minimally invasive spine surgery techniques to avoid unnecessary tissue damage.
Laminae are the bones at the back of each vertebra. Removing the lamina (laminectomy) creates more space for your nerves. Sometimes it's only necessary to remove a portion of the lamina (laminotomy) to achieve the same effect.
Following surgery like laminectomy, you might also need to undergo spinal fusion to stabilize your spine.
An alternative approach to treating a herniated disc is discectomy and fusion or discectomy and artificial disc replacement. Discectomy is the removal of an entire disc. Your surgeon may then fuse the vertebrae on either side with a bone graft or implant a replacement synthetic disc.
To find out whether you need herniated disc decompression surgery, call Advanced Neurosurgery to schedule a consultation today or book an appointment online.