Bulging or herniated discs are a common cause of back pain, and without treatment, they can cause permanent disability in your legs or arms. There was a time when repairing a damaged disc meant undergoing invasive back surgery with big incisions, a long hospital stay, and a lot of discomfort during recovery (not to mention a big price tag). Today, many disc repairs can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, with much smaller incisions, less bleeding and swelling, and much faster recovery. Plus, minimally invasive spine surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis, so you don’t have to deal with a long hospital stay (and the infection risk that can involve).
At the Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. Regan offers both discectomy and spinal fusion, two innovative approaches to minimally invasive spine surgery that relieve disc pain so you can move freely again.
Before delving into these two types of procedures, it’s worthwhile to understand how your spine is “put together” and how bulging discs occur. Your back is a series of interconnected bones or vertebrae. These vertebrae form a channel that contains all the nerves in your body as they travel from your brain to your organs, limbs, and other areas. Between each pair of bones is a spongy structure called a disc. Discs have a tough but pliable “shell” and a gel-like interior. Together, they act as a cushion that protects your spine from impacts while also helping your spine stay more flexible.
Normally, the entire disc is contained within the borders of the bones. But sometimes, one or more discs can move out of their normal position, bulging outward beyond the edge of your vertebrae and pressing on the nerves as they leave your spine. When that happens, you can experience pain, numbness, and other symptoms in your back and anywhere along the pathway of that nerve, even all the way to your fingers and toes.
Without treatment, the compressed nerve can become permanently damaged, and so can the muscles, organs, and other tissues that rely on that nerve. Severely compressed nerves can make it difficult or impossible to walk or to use your hands, and they can even cause you to lose control of your bowels and bladder.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery uses very small incisions, typically less than an inch in length, to access the damaged disc. During the procedure, Dr. Regan uses special instruments to perform the surgery. These instruments contain tiny cameras that transmit detailed images to a monitor which Dr. Regan uses to guide the surgery.
Since the incisions are so small, you won’t need general anesthesia so you won’t have to worry about the associated risks. Plus, your risk for infection is also lower. Smaller incisions also mean less tissue damage, so there’s less bleeding during and after the procedure, as well as less swelling and discomfort during recovery. In most cases, you won't even need to be hospitalized; you'll be able to go home the same day.
In a discectomy, Dr. Regan removes the entire damaged disc from between the vertebrae. Sometimes, the disc is replaced with an artificial disc. Other times, the area of the spine may be stabilized with a spinal fusion procedure.
In a lumbar or spinal fusion procedure, Dr. Regan uses special techniques to stabilize the spine around the damaged disc, preventing movement that can cause painful friction and nerve compression. Special screws or rods are used to connect the two vertebrae and prevent them from shifting.
If herniated disc pain is interfering with your life, minimally invasive spine surgery at the Spine Group Beverly Hills could be the solution to help you eliminate that pain once and for all. To learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery and how it could help you, book an appointment online today.