Surgery For A Slipped Disc

Posted on

You injured your back and the orthopedist says you have a ruptured intervertebral disc, commonly known as a slipped disc. Your doctor had you try various back braces and supports, anti-inflammatory pain medications and steroid injections. But they stopped giving you any relief. Now your doctor recommends back surgery to reduce your pain. Here is how this surgery will give you relief and what to expect during your recovery.

Basic Back and Spine Anatomy

Your spine consists of the vertebrae stacked on one another separated by cartilage discs to keep the bones from rubbing against each other. The discs also give you the flexibility in your spine. The spinal cord runs through the spine, sending bundles of nerves off from it between the bones in the spine to other parts of the body.

If your back is injured from a fall or twisting injury, the gel-like interior of the disc may be pushed out of the disc. This bulge puts pressure on the nerves in that area. The pain may extend into the area to which the nerves are headed. For example, if you inure your neck, pressure may be applied to the nerves causing you pain in your upper back, neck, shoulders, and down one arm. The goal of the surgery is to relieve the pressure on those nerves.

The non-invasive treatments were tried to give you some relief while the ruptured disc heals. If it fails to heal or has collapsed, surgery may be the best option.

What Happens during the Surgery

Back surgeons use a number of techniques to remove the pressure on your nerves where the disc ruptured. They may remove the part of the disc that is pushing against the nerves. They may remove part of the vertebra called the lamina to give the nerves more room. Or they may remove the entire disc. In that case, bone chips are packed in the space left between the two vertebrae so they will fuse together. The surgeon will then attach metal rods to the vertebrae to secure them together while the bones fuse.

Recovering at Home

After a few days in the hospital, you'll be sent home to complete your recovery. You'll work with a physical therapist to slowly stretch out the stiff back muscles. You'll also begin strength training to build up the muscles along and around your spine. These help to hold your spine in place and prevent injury.

The length of your recovery depends on how much work was done on your back during the surgery. Removing part of a disc requires less time to heal than a spinal fusion. They key is to set a pace with your physical therapist and to make steady progress. Don't push yourself beyond your limits or you may injure your back again and need additional surgery. For more information, visit a back surgeon's website, such as