Guide to Advanced Surgery for The Spine
Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Herniated Disc Treatment?
The highly-skilled, well-trained spinal surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital will evaluate patients with a herniated disc and provide a personalized treatment plan. Several conservative and surgical treatment approaches are available, and the treatment that best suits the severity of your condition will be chosen.
A herniated disc is a painful condition in which your spinal disc has become displaced or damaged, resulting in leakage of the central jelly-like substance that, in turn, irritates the surrounding nerve roots. The condition is also commonly referred to as "slipped disc" or "ruptured disc." A herniated disc often causes pain in the neck, arms, lower back, and legs. Most people complaining of persistent back pain may also feel the pain radiating down their leg and foot, which is a clear indicator of a herniated lumbar spinal disc. Sometimes, a slipped disc may not give rise to any symptoms at all. When this occurs, the symptoms usually resolve themselves within six weeks.
Surgical Procedures Performed at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Herniated Disc
A herniated disc requires surgical treatment when a disc fragment is dislodged and causes nerve impingement. The type of surgery is decided based on the severity and the exact location of the herniated disc. The two minimally invasive surgical options to treat a herniated disc include:
- Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery: This technique is used in the treatment of mild cases of a herniated disc. Your surgeon will remove the damaged fragment of your spinal disc, or the extruded jelly-like material, which will relieve pressure on the impinged nerve. This requires a tiny, 1-inch long cut along the spine. The most common minimally invasive decompression surgeries include discectomy and laminotomy.
- Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery: This technique is safer and more effective when compared to the traditional spinal fusion technique. A small incision will be made on your back to gain access to your backbone. Then, without disrupting the muscles (muscle-sparing approach), the affected segment is reached and the herniated disc that is compressing your spinal nerves is removed. Small instruments and a heat source, such as a laser, may be used. The space created by the removal of the disc is then filled by inserting an implant, which stabilizes the spine. Then the incision is closed.
Both of these surgeries are done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can return home on the same day of the procedure.
Drugs and Other Treatment Needed for Herniated Disc
Hot Or Cold Compress »
Epidural Steroid Injection »
Physical Therapy »
Lifestyle Modifications »
The types of herniated discs are categorized based on their location as follows:
Thoracic Herniated Discs »
Lumbar Herniated Discs »
Cervical Herniated Discs »
Symptoms of Herniated Disc
Generally, a herniated disc does not cause any pain or discomfort unless the disc portion impinges upon the spinal nerves.
The most common symptom of a herniated disc is low back pain, which is often described as a sudden, sharp pain that involves the buttocks and the back portion of one leg.
Commonly, the pain becomes worse at night, and while standing or walking for short distances.
This is associated with muscle weakness, numbness, tingling sensations in the arms and legs, and loss of control over urination and bowel movements.
A burning type of pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms may also occur.
Diagnosis of Herniated Disc
Initially, a doctor will listen to a patient's symptoms and perform a careful physical examination, during which the exact source of the pain is detected. The examination usually involves evaluating the functions of a patient's nerve and muscle strength.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be ordered to visualize the defect in the bones, as well as the soft tissue associated with the spine.
Risk Factors for Herniated Disc
The major risk factor that leads to a herniated disc is aging. However, this condition may occur in patients of any age. With advancing age, the spinal discs begin to lose water, wear out, and become thin and brittle. This leads to higher pressure within the disc, causing the outer shell to tear and the inner gelatinous matter to spill into the spinal canal. Other factors that lead to disc displacement include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Sports injuries or sudden trauma to the lower back
- Performing repeated strenuous labor that involves lifting and driving for long periods of time
Causes of Herniated Disc
A herniated disc may occur as a result of strain to the lower back due to twisting or turning movements while trying to lift a large, heavy object. Excessive body weight combined with an inactive lifestyle may also contribute to the development of herniated discs. In addition, age-related degeneration of the discs may cause displacement of a spinal disc.
Your doctor may advise alternative medicine treatments before suggesting a surgical solution. Some of these alternative medicine therapies include:
- Acupuncture: This age-old Chinese treatment method involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific pressure points throughout the body to help relieve pain. Depending upon the location of the compressed nerve, the practitioner will decide whether or not to insert numerous needles, which are left in the body for at least 20-40 minutes. This method causes the release of endorphins (natural pain relievers) into the blood.
- Acupressure: This technique is similar to acupuncture, as it restores the healthy flow of energy through the body by stimulating certain points. This technique uses only fingers, hands, and elbows to exert pressure.
- Chiropractic Treatment: Chiropractic care has been effective in improving the alignment of the spine and easing the pain associated with degenerative spinal problems. The two chiropractic manipulation approaches that may be used include spinal manipulation therapy and spinal mobilization therapy. This treatment provides temporary symptomatic relief and involves the adjustment of the vertebrae and spinal discs so that nerve compression is avoided.
- Massage Therapy: Massage, when performed properly, may provide some relief from chronic lower back pain. It generally includes the gentle stroking and kneading of tissues and muscles in the back, which helps increase blood flow and delivers higher levels of oxygen to the muscles. It is usually safe, and though it is not proven to work, it also does not cause any adverse effects.
- Yoga/Pilates Exercises: A vast majority of people with a herniated disc have found Yoga and Pilates beneficial. These therapeutic exercises can help a patient lose weight, relax, and improve their flexibility. It is important to consult a doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
While it's impossible to avoid a herniated disc that results from age-related degeneration, there are a few preventive measures that can help keep the spine healthy and lower the risk of developing a herniated disc. These measures include:
- Use proper lifting techniques: Always bend the knees before lifting any heavy objects. Avoid bending at the waist while lifting.
- Intake of a healthy, nutritious diet: Healthy foods can help maintain a normal weight and decrease the pressure exerted on the spine.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and perform mild stretching exercises: It is important to be active. Performing stretching exercises periodically can keep the ligaments loose and improve the flexibility of the spine. Low-impact exercises, such as walking and swimming, can help strengthen back muscles without exerting pressure on the spinal discs.
- Stop smoking cigarettes: The toxins they contain can hinder blood circulation and the absorption of nutrients.
Are you suffering from lower back pain? The specialty-trained spinal surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital can answer any questions, and provide information and guidance related to herniated disc treatment.