Herniated discs unfortunately are a very common problem, especially in middle aged people and it seems to affect women more often than men. A herniated disc is a problem that affects the spine. It’s when the fibrous outer portion of the intervertebral disc tears. When this happens it allows the jelly-like central portion to bulge out. The spinal column consists of 33 bones. This is commonly known as the vertebra. These 33 bones are stacked on top of each other. Although the herniated disc occurs mostly in the lumbar spine area, which is situated above the hips known as the lower back, it can occur in any part of the spinal column. In the United States it affects around 3 million people, with the severity varying with each individual case. Luckily most claim to be experiencing minor discomfort while others experience chronic pain that can lead to surgery. Throughout the US, there are doctors that can help with this unpleasant problem including back specialist in NJ.
What Should You Take Into Consideration Before You Get Surgery?
In many cases, regardless of whether or not you got treatment, symptoms often get better over time. A common symptom for those suffering with herniated discs is that they get pains in their legs and other parts of their backs. Sometimes, a change in people’s diet and daily lifestyle can help as a treatment in pain relief. Other alternatives like physiotherapy, medicine and steroids have also proven to be successful. If one of these options does not work, many have gained success by combining some of them together. Surgery tends to be the last option many patients try after all else has failed.
Should I Have Surgery Or Should I Use A Non-Surgical Treatment?
Surgery in many cases is the fastest way of relieving pain in comparison to non-surgical treatments. After a patient is experiencing at least 6 weeks of symptoms, that affects the way they carry out their daily activities, surgery is often recommended assuming they have failed with other non-surgical treatments. In many cases, in the long term surgery will work similar to non-surgical treatments. Surgery varies in each case depending on the pain the patient is experiencing during the 6 week time frame. Back surgery has often proven to be dangerous. In the past sufferers of herniated discs who go into surgery have had infections, nerve damage and in some situations, the surgery won’t clear your symptoms. On top of that, there have been situations where patients who have had surgery have experienced new symptoms.
What Type Of Procedures Are Available For a Herniated Disc?
The main aim for the procedure is to remove the pressure from the nerve roots. In most cases the surgeon has to remove the disc material. This is known as a discectomy. Surgeons often offer patients a few options.
Minimally invasive procedures: This is when the surgeon makes one or more small incisions in the back of the patient. Specific tools are used to go through the incision. Often heating or cutting tools are used and nowadays it’s common practice for a surgeon to use lasers. These are used to cut part of the disc.
Open Discectomy: This is when a part, or the whole of one or more of the discs in the spine is removed. The procedure is done through a large incision in the patients back. This surgery normally takes a minimum of 70 minutes.
Microdiscectomy: Similar to the open discectomy, however a much smaller incision is required. This does not affect the surrounding tissue as much as the open discectomy surgery. This surgery takes around 40 minutes. It is often carried out under local anistic and patients can expect to have a short stay in the hospital. Because many people who suffer with a herniated disc are overweight, those with a larger body mass often cannot undergo microdiscectomy, as surgeons often find it very hard to gain access to the spine through the tissue on their backs.
Many studies have been carried out that show that there is very little difference in how well each of these procedures work. It is up to you, and the recommendation from your doctor on which surgery you feel is best for you, your body and the condition of your spine.
What Are Treatments Other Than Surgery?
There are many treatments that may help a patient avoid surgery and manage their symptoms. Many of these treatments are simple and often are much less expensive than going under the knife. As mentioned earlier, surgery is the final treatment after all else has failed.
Altering the way you do your activities and doing exercise is sometimes the simplest way for you to help reduce the pain caused by a herniated disc. This basically means doing your day to day activities a little bit different. For instance, if you are used to sitting at your desk at work, perhaps getting up and walking now and again may help. If you go to the gym regularly often some workouts may need to be avoided or your doctor might help you with a few stretches to help with your back. Perhaps a few yoga sessions might help improve your issues. There is a long list of simple tasks that have helped many people find relief. Speaking to your spine specialist is highly recommended.
Taking medicine is another common way to help manage the pain. Medicine such as Tylenol and other anti-inflammatory as well as ibuprofen and naproxen are medicines that are frequently used. These are available in most countries around the world over the counter at a pharmacy however it is advised that you consult with your doctor before taking them.
Steroid Injections is also fairly common to reduce the symptoms. These shots will often help you deal with your daily activities, however sometimes these treatments can have some side effects. In many cases this can help with reducing the pain in the leg which many people suffer from. Steroid shots are often used to relieve pain and symptoms in the short term.