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Operating A Herniated Disc - Is It Safe?

Written and reviewed by
MS - General Surgery, MCh - Neuro Surgery, MBBS
Neurosurgeon, Greater Noida  •  17 years experience
Operating A Herniated Disc - Is It Safe?

When asked to go for surgery, be it for any problem, it can be really scary. This is pretty understandable!. If you are confronted with such a decision whether to go for surgery for your herniated disc problem, then read on to gain an understanding in this regard.

What is a herniated disc?
The bones which form our spine also known as the vertebrae are cushioned by small spongy discs. When these discs are in healthy condition, they help to keep our spine flexible by acting as a shock absorber for the spine. But whenever a disc gets damaged, it might break open or bulge. This is known as a herniated disc. It is also known as ruptured or slipped disc.

When there is a herniated disc, it does not always show any symptom, but when it presses on the roots of the nerves, it causes numbness, pain, and weakness in that area of the body where that nerve travels. The common cause for leg pain and back pain is a herniated disc in the lower back portion. It can also cause numbness down the leg and in the buttock.

Surgical treatment or non-surgical treatment – Which is better?
In case of a herniated disc, surgery works well for most but not all. In case of herniated disc surgery, patients often experience 6 to 12 weeks of severe numbness in the lower portion of the body caused due to a herniated disc, one group of people was advised to have surgery soon, and the other group of people was asked to go for the non-surgical treatment. After two months, the group of people who had surgery felt better than the non-surgical group. Surgery works best when one opts for it within 6 months after the symptoms show up.

Many people are also able to manage their symptoms by opting for non-surgical treatment as well. It includes changing the way in which they do their activities. For example, if sitting longer worsens the condition, the person is advised to stand and do his/her work. Or one can also switch between standing and sitting. Exercise is also a part of the non-surgical treatment. Aerobic exercises are beneficial to reduce the symptoms of a herniated disc. Steroid injections are also included in the non-surgical treatment.

What are the risks of surgery?
At the time of surgery, there might be a slight risk of damaging the spine or the nerves, but it is very rare. If not cared for properly, the patients have slight chances of infection in the surgical site.

To make an informed decision, discuss the options with your doctor, analyze the pros and cons of your situation and decide accordingly.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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