Despite its generally terrible curative results, herniated disc surgery is still a very common treatment option that is used when more conservative therapy modalities fail to resolve a chronic disc pain condition. There is a diverse spectrum of surgical procedures available to treat herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.
It is very important to understand your options when considering surgical intervention, but even more importantly, to be aware of the sizeable risks and complications of disc surgery.
This resource section will investigate a wide range of possible procedural options for treating herniations with surgical interventions. We will discuss what to expect from a spinal operation, as well as explore why so many patients suffer disappointing results, regardless of the procedure selected.
Back surgery should never even be considered until all indicated conservative treatment measures have already been attempted. Even the least invasive surgery is still serious business and can cause permanent changes to a patient's health and functionality. Surgical intervention is typically doctor-recommended for patients who complain of ongoing symptoms which have not improved, despite treatment using a variety of noninvasive modalities.
Some patients are frightened or pressured into premature surgical intervention by a
herniated disc surgeon
who believes the answer to every
condition is to simply cut the person open and alter the spine. While
this is not only rushed treatment, the curative results from premature
operative interventions are even lower than the already dismal
statistics demonstrated by many appropriate surgical techniques.
Here are some in-depth articles profiling the most common surgical techniques used for treating disc pathologies:
Lumbar disc surgery is the most common variety of invasive treatment, since lumbar bulges are demonstrated in great numbers in the general population.
Disc removal surgery may be partial or complete.
Failed disc surgery robs patients of the hope they had for a cure. Failed surgery syndrome is a common occurrence in the invasive therapy industry.
Spinal fusion can be performed after discectomy in order to stabilize the spine. Alternately, disc replacement surgery using artificial discs can preserve spinal functionality and possibly improve patient prognosis.
Microdiscectomy comes in many varieties, including anterior-approach techniques that minimize recovery time.
Laminectomy is often used in combination with disc operations to treat multiple spinal canal issues at once.
Radiofrequency lesioning does not treat herniations, per se, but can minimize pain from a diversity of back and neck pain diagnoses.
Disc nucleus replacement is an innovative approach that might someday be used to effectively treat both herniations and degeneration.
Disc surgery alternatives should always be explored before agreeing to any type of surgical care.
Learn how to recover from herniated disc surgery before undergoing your procedure.
There are ever growing numbers of surgical options to choose when designing a disc pain operation. There are 4 basic surgical philosophies used in treating herniated discs:
Artificial disc replacement removes the old organic disc and replaces it with an artificial spinal disc. This technique shows enlightened theory, since it preserves normal spinal function by maintaining individual intervertebral level movement.
Remove part of the offending disc to remove pressure off affected spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord. Some minimally invasive techniques might work quite well, although some particular procedures are virtually always ineffective.
Remove the offending disc and perform a spinal fusion to prevent further movement of the operated intervertebral level. This is a completely barbaric and antiquated surgical approach and is almost never truly indicated for disc conditions. However, it is still a popular treatment option.
Utilize some alternative surgical approach to permanently or temporarily resolve symptoms, such as treating overly sensitized surrounding nerve tissue, even though the actual offending disc is left alone.
Read more about Herniated disc procedures.
While some surgeries are both indicated and successful, the overwhelming majority are completely unnecessary and many fail miserably. Surgery is one of the riskiest treatments for any back pain condition and offers some of the worst curative results when compared to other less hazardous therapy options, such as noninvasive spinal decompression.
Surgical intervention has spawned an army of permanently disabled people who went into the operating room hoping to find a cure for their pain, but came out functionally deficient, still in pain and now with limited options for future treatment.
Not one week goes by that I do not receive several letters from patients who regret having undergone spinal surgery. Not only are they still suffering, but in many cases, the pain has gotten much worse and the doctors have simply stopped returning their calls.
To summarize, it is worth noting that although spinal surgery, in general, demonstrates poor results, herniated disc surgery features some of the worst overall permanent curative results of all spinal procedures. Complications abound and many patients suffer re-herniations after surgery, bringing them right back to square one in their treatment process, all over again.
The bottom line on any type of spinal surgery is super simple: If at all possible, don't do it.
While surgery is the only treatment for some rare and serious spinal conditions, it is seldom needed for herniated discs and virtually never required for degenerative disc disease.
Before even thinking seriously about surgery, you must do your own research and get the facts about failed back surgery syndrome. This is truly an epidemic condition which ruins the lives of millions of patients. Unfortunately for many, there is no way of undoing the untold damage caused by inappropriate and unneeded spinal surgeries. For these poor souls, it might just be too late.
Don’t become a negative statistic. Think clearly now and do whatever is possible to avoid surgery. There are other non-surgical options worth exploring.
For those patients who must undergo surgery for a truly indicated condition, plan your procedure and choose your surgeon very carefully. These factors will make a world of difference in the state you will be in after the operation.
Do not simply accept the first surgical option suggested by only one doctor. Shop for alternate opinions and you might just discover that there is a way to avoid the operating table after all.
For all the patients who are worse off after surgery, I send a blanket apology. I wish I had a better answer to your questions about what you should do now. I wish I had the solution for your downward spiraling health. I wish we could have spoken before you decided to go through with that operation.
If you are facing an upcoming surgical consultation, be sure to read our patient guide covering the process first!