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What Kind Of Surgery Is Done For A Bulging Disc?

Bulging disc is a common spinal condition, where due to a trauma, the disc nucleus breaks and presses outward through the weakened walls of the spinal disc. It can cause severe pain, along with numbness and weakness in the limbs if there is associated nerve compression. This article discusses the kind of surgery that is done for a bulging disc.

Bulging disc, is also called slipped disc or protruding disc. The symptoms of a bulging disc can be back pain, cramps and spasms, numbness and pins and needles sensation.

However, a bulging disc may not be a problem, if it does not cause any symptoms. If a bulging disc causes severe symptoms like pain or numbness and tingling in limbs or weakness at the back, arms or the legs, it may call for attention.

What Kind of Surgery is Done For Bulging Disc?

It is observed that doctors generally treat the patients suffering from bulging disc conventionally before they choose the option of surgery for correcting the problems. With the help of pain medication, physical therapy and rest, most of the problems related to spine heal over time. However, if the conservative therapies do not reduce the symptoms or offer relief, surgery to treat the bulging disc may be considered.

Bulging disc surgery is one of the best treatment options for the patients suffering from bulging disc in the spine. Surgery is considered to be an option by the surgeons when there is little or absolutely no improvement, or when the symptoms are severe and interfere in the daily activities. So, what kind of surgery is done for bulging disc, is a common question that comes to our mind.

The kind of surgery for bulging disc usually depends on the underlying condition and the overall health of the patient. In order to ensure that the right option is chosen it is mandatory to educate our self and be aware of what kind of surgery is done for a bulging disc in general.

While the conservative therapies intend to relieve the symptoms of a bulging disc, surgery for a bulging disc is mainly performed to treat the issue at its source. Once the underlying cause is treated, the symptoms show improvement. Several studies have shown that surgical treatment for bulging disc offers better relief of symptoms than conservative treatment.1 However, the decision of the need for surgery is best taken by the medical team.

The kind of surgery done for a bulging disc include the following:

Foraminotomy for Bulging Disc:

Foraminotomy is a kind of decompression surgery done for bulging disc. It is performed to increase the intervertebral foramina space, the passage through which the nerve bundles pass from the spinal cord to the body. The surgery is done to release the pressure and the nerve compression so as to reduce the pain and discomfort experienced in bulging disc.

Laminectomy for Bulging Disc:

Laminectomy is also a decompression surgery, which is done to remove the back portion of the vertebral bone known as lamina in order to either gain access to the spinal cord or to relieve the pressure on the nerves caused by the bulging disc. It is a major spine surgery for bulging disc, which leaves behind scar tissues and poses a risk of causing post laminectomy syndrome.

Discectomy as an Option for Bulging Disc Surgery:

One of the most common forms of bulging disc surgery is discectomy. This procedure involves the removal of a portion of the bulging disc in order to relieve the pressure on the nerve that causes weakness or tremendous pain. In this, the part of the vertebrae, which is above or below the bulging disc is removed in order to gain adequate access. It might take several months before the patient resumes physical activities. Proper rehabilitation with physical therapy is needed to ensure complete healing and resuming of normal activities. Many patients, experience utmost relief after discectomy but exceptions are always there. There are some patients who continue to suffer with the same pain and problems after the surgery. If discectomy does not prove useful, the surgeon may consider a different type of bulging disc surgery.

Replacement of Injured Disc as a Kind of Bulging Disc Surgery:

Replacement of the injured disc is one of the last options of surgery for a bulging disc. In this, the bulging disc is replaced with that of a synthetic disc. It helps in reduction of the risk and frees the patient from any problem in the future, which might require any therapy or surgery. This replacement is indeed the last option reserved for the patient who does not find any effective results after surgeries and treatments. Discs are also replaced when the discs of the patients have degenerated or worn thin to the extent where it is no longer suitable for the softening of the vertebrae.

During the surgery for a bulging disc, the spine can also be fused if needed. The surgeons are experienced to understand the most appropriate approach as per the body or the condition of the patient. The surgery can consist of either just one procedure or a combination of various procedures.

Traditional vs Minimally Invasive Surgery for Bulging Disc

Some of the surgeries of spine can be performed using both the minimally invasive techniques and the traditional ones. The traditional approach is best known as the open approach, which is quite risky. The open approach involves taking large incisions with the help of which the muscles at the back or neck are cut deep in order to make the surgeon access the spine. The recovery process might take long as the procedures are tedious. Patients are most likely to spend weeks in the hospital before they are discharged.

The minimally invasive surgery is just the opposite of the open surgery because here a small incision is made along with several muscle sparing techniques. These are less traumatic in nature as the cut or the slit is minimal. These operations are clinically appropriate as compared to the open back or neck surgeries. One of the major causes of a bulging disc is aging hence, the patients are not fit, or their body does not permit the traditional surgery. The nominal invasive surgery is mostly opted by the patients and surgeons due to some of its advantages:

  • The recovery time is shorter
  • The chances of infection are reduced
  • The rate of complication is low
  • Lastly, the process is not scary.

Spine health centres help patients to get relief from the symptoms of bulging disc. These spine centres enable the patients to get back to their normal lifestyle with effective advice. While the kind of surgery done for a bulging disc is best decided by the surgeon, being aware of the possible options is important. Future back problems can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and by using suitable techniques of lifting weight. A strong abdomen along with the back muscles helps in supporting the spine. It is advised that therapeutic exercises should be done regularly.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 22, 2022

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