Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments for Spinal Disc Herniation
Spinal discs are the spine's shock absorbers that keep the vertebrae from bouncing against each other. They also work to support the upper body while allowing for a wide range of movement. If one of these discs is damaged then the functionality of the entire spine is seriously impeded.
A herniated disc is when the soft jelly-like tissue at the center of the spinal disk pushes through a crack in the bone that holds it. Herniated discs are usually the result of extreme stress to the spine caused by heavy lifting or twisting too far around. People of any age can herniate a disc however it is most common among people aged between 35 and 50.
Treatment for herniated discs is designed around relieving the patient of pain. For the treatment to be effective, it must be tailored to the specific needs of the patient. Non-surgical options are always explored before the doctor advises the patient to go under the knife however it may be in some patients' best interests to go into surgery immediately. This is usually the case when patients have no bowel control or increasing weakness in their limbs because the slipped disc is pinching on a vital nerve root and immediate surgery is needed to prevent permanent nerve damage or loss of life.
Up to 90% of all slipped discs can be treated without the need for surgery. Pain in the limbs associated with slipped discs can be treated using medication. If the pain continues to reduce then there is no need for surgery and the doctor can be confident that the numbness will dissipate in time.
The pain that comes with a herniated disc is because of a combination of two conditions. One is when the herniated disc has moved to a position where it is pinching on the nerve root and the other is when the tissue around the slipped disc becomes inflamed. Treatments for pain associated with slipped discs are designed to take care of both these issues simultaneously. Anti-inflammatory injections of cortisone are given along with pain-killers such as ibuprofen. Steroids can be prescribed in cases where the patient feels extreme pain however not for more than a week.
With a disc that is out of place, some light manual manipulation may help to set it right again. Chiropractic healthcare from a professional chiropractor could help to massage the slipped disc back into place and get the joint functioning well again. Moving the joint back into place must be done slowly as trying to force it back in may result in nerve damage.
When the patient's pain has reduced they are advised to engage in physical exercise and therapy to reduce the muscles spasms and getting it strong again.
Doctors will always use surgery as a last resort. Most herniated discs can be treated without surgery however there are some cases where the patient is experiencing increasing amounts of pain or numbness and the doctor must operate to save the patient's life.
Spinal surgery to fix herniated discs is generally successful with a success rate as high as 98%. There are several way to perform a surgery on a herniated disc. Anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion is the most common method that surgeons use to fix cervical herniated discs. In this procedure the disc is removed and the space is fused. Sometimes the surgeon will place an artificial disc instead of fusing the space which is called an artificial disc replacement.
Posterior discectomy is similar to the anterior approach but more risky because there is high number of veins in this area of entry that can result in a lot of bleeding. It also requires the spinal cord to be manipulated more.