When does a herniated disc need surgery?

A herniated disc is a condition that occurs when the cushioning material between two vertebrae protrudes out of its normal position. When this happens, the disc can press on the nerve roots, causing pain and other symptoms. In some cases, a herniated disc may require surgery to repair the problem.

When to Consider Surgery for a Herniated Disc

Surgery is rarely the first option for a herniated disc. In many cases, conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, rest, and over-the-counter medications can be effective in relieving symptoms. If these treatments fail to provide adequate relief, however, then surgery may be recommended.

Surgery is usually recommended when a herniated disc is causing severe pain or when it is compressing a nerve, leading to numbness or muscle weakness. This can occur when the disc is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord itself.

Types of Surgery for a Herniated Disc

If surgery is recommended, the type of procedure will depend on the location and size of the herniated disc. Common surgeries for a herniated disc include a lumbar discectomy, a lumbar laminectomy, and a spinal fusion.

A lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which the herniated disc is removed. This can relieve pressure on the nerves and reduce pain.

A lumbar laminectomy is a procedure in which the lamina, a bony plate that covers the nerves in the spine, is removed. This can help to reduce pressure on the nerves and reduce pain.

A spinal fusion is a more complex procedure in which two or more vertebrae are fused together. This can help to reduce pain and improve stability of the spine.

Recovery From Surgery

Recovery time for a herniated disc surgery will vary depending on the type of procedure. In general, most people can expect to return to work within four to six weeks of the surgery.

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care. This may include physical therapy to help you regain strength and mobility. You may also need to wear a back brace to provide additional support while you heal.

In some cases, a herniated disc may not respond to conservative treatment options and may require surgery to repair the problem. However, it is important to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor before deciding on a course of action.

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