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Research indicates that nearly everyone will experience low back pain at one time or another. Back pain, and associated problems like sciatica, are the second most common reason for a visit to your doctor and a significant reason for lost time at work. Your pain may also limit you from enjoying your normal recreational activities and active lifestyle.

If you develop back pain, sciatica or neck and arm pain, you should visit your doctor right away to get an accurate diagnosis and to start on treatment. There are many different causes of spinal pain, including:

  • Compression Fracture
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Muscle strains
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated discs

Your doctor can assess your condition and order the necessary tests to determine what may be causing your pain and to prescribe the right treatment for you. A herniated spinal disc is a common problem that can cause back or neck pain and sciatica. Your spinal discs act as small shock absorbers with a jelly-like core surrounded by cartilage.

When the jelly material becomes displaced, it can irritate nerves around the disc or the nerves that travel down your legs or arms. This may cause your back pain or sciatica.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

If you have spinal pain, you may be wondering if a herniated disc is causing your problems. The best way to find out is to visit your doctor. Understanding the possible symptoms that can come from a herniated disc can help you determine if this is causing your pain.

Common symptoms from a herniated disc include:

  • Low back or neck pain
  • Pain in one side of your buttock or thigh
  • Pain in one arm or hand (if the herniated disc is in your neck)
  • Numbness and tingling in your thigh, leg or foot
  • Weakness in your leg or arm

Changes in bladder or bowel function is a rare symptom of a disc herniation. Typically, significant weakness in your leg or arm or changes in your bowel or bladder habits is considered a medical emergency. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should report to your doctor or emergency department right away.

Remember that everyone is different, and everyone experiences pain differently. Any condition that causes back, neck or leg and arm pain should be evaluated by your physician for a possible herniated disc or other problem with your spine.

If your doctor determines that your pain is likely caused by displacement of your spinal disc, there are many treatment options available for you. Some people benefit from physical therapy or chiropractic care, and others may get relief from spinal cortisone injections.

If your pain is persistent and severe, you may be a candidate for surgery for your herniated disc. Working with a trusted doctor or neurosurgeon can help determine if you need surgery for your back or neck pain.

Surgery for a Herniated Disc

If you have a herniated disc and are considering surgery, you should take time to learn about different surgical treatments available. Surgery for a herniated disc in the low back typically is treated with a surgery called a microdiscectomy.

During this procedure, your doctor makes a small incision in your back and uses surgical instruments to cut away disc material that has herniated out of place. This takes pressure off of your spinal nerves to relieve your pain and improve your mobility.

Surgery for a herniated disc in the neck can be treated with a mictodiscectomy but is also often treated with an anterior discectomy and fusion or a cervical disc replacement. The ideal treatment depends on the specifics of each case.

It is important that you understand the surgical procedure that your doctor is considering for your herniated disc. It is also important that you know the surgical approach that is being used.

The standard, open approach to disc surgery is performed by many surgeons. This surgery is done with a large incision in your back, and your back muscles are dissected away from your spinal bone. Your surgeon will then cut away the disc material compressing your spinal nerve, and your muscles will be repaired before your skin is sutured.

A newer and innovative approach to surgery is minimally invasive spine surgery. This procedure involves your neurosurgeon making a tiny incision in your back. Small portals are made in your low back muscles, keeping them intact on the bone.

Then specialized instruments are introduced into your spine that allow your doctor to visualize the discs and remove any herniated material that is compressing your nerves. Once your spinal nerves are decompressed, the instruments will be removed and your tiny incision will be sutured.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery for Herniated Disc

There are many benefits to minimally invasive spine surgery when compared to the standard open approach. First, your neurosurgeon only needs to make a small incision in your back during the surgery. This means there is less risk of infection and blood loss during the procedure.

Your back muscles are not fully dissected during minimally invasive spine surgery. This helps to preserve their function and leads to a speedier recovery.

Because smaller incisions are used during minimally invasive spine surgery, people enjoy a rapid recovery with less overall pain. Many people can quickly return to work and their active lifestyle soon after minimally invasive spine surgery for herniated disc.

If you have back pain or sciatica, you have probably noticed that many treatments are available for you. When considering surgery, there are many different surgical options that may help you decrease your pain and improve your overall mobility.

Working with a surgeon who employs the innovative techniques of minimally invasive spine surgery can help you enjoy a rapid recovery with less pain and improved overall mobility. This allows you to quickly get back to your regular level of work and recreational activities.
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