A herniated disc also known as a slip disc or prolapsed disc refers to the problem where one of the discs located in between the bones of the vertebrae(backbone) gets damaged and stacks itself upon the nerves. The tender inner portion of the disc gets protruded over the outer ring. Herniated disc causes severe neck pain and back pain. It occurs when the outer ring gets weak and tears down.
The most common symptoms include pain and numbness, especially on one side of the body. The pain extends down to the arms and legs. It worsens during nighttime. The muscles become weak. Overweight people are likely to have this disease, as the discs carry extra weight. Old people are vulnerable to a slip disc.
Effects of Herniated Disc:
- An untreated case of herniated disc may cause permanent damage to the nerves.
- In certain cases, a herniated disc is capable of cutting off nerve impulses to the "caudal equine"nerves, present in the lower back and legs. This leads to loss of bladder control or bowel control.
- Saddle anaesthesia is another long-term effect. Nerves are compressed by the slip disc, causing loss of sensation in the inner portions of your thighs, the back of your legs and surrounding the rectum region.
- Symptoms may improve or worsen.
Diagnosis of Herniated Disc:
Treatment or diagnosis of herniated disc or slip disc can be either conservative or surgical in nature. The nature of treatment is determined according to your discomfort level and the kind of pain you are experiencing, or how much the disc has slipped out.
- The pain caused by herniated disc can be relieved by undertaking an exercise schedule which includes stretching and strengthening the spine and its surrounding muscles.
- A physiotherapist should be appointed for recommending the types of exercises.
- Taking pain relievers also soothes the pain.
- Stronger medicines prescribed by doctors include-muscle relaxers, narcotics to deal with the pain, medicines for nerve pain such as "gabapentin" or "duloxetine".
- In case of the symptoms not subsiding within a span of six weeks, a surgery may be recommended by your doctor. The surgeon may have to remove the damaged part of the disc. This surgery is called a microdiskectomy.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery is a quicker and safer alternative to open surgery. The spinal discs, vertebrae and nerves are present deep inside the body. A small incision is made and the surgical instruments and a camera is inserted which push aside the muscles and reach the problem area.
Which medical conditions can be addressed with minimally invasive spine surgery?
1. Degenerative Disc Disease (osteoarthritis of the spine)
2. Herniated Disc (the disc protrudes from its right place)
3. Spinal Tumours
4. Vertebral compression fractures (collapse of the vertebra)
5. Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space near the spinal cord)
6. Scoliosis (the spine curves sideways)
7. Spinal infections
8. Spinal instability
What are the goals of minimally invasive spine surgery?
1. Decompression: this procedure eases the pressure being exerted on the spinal cord or the nerve roots. This pressure can be the cause of pinched nerves.
2. Stabilization: sometimes, a segment of the spinal cord that has come loose can be the source of pain. A stabilizations surgery fuses the segment to the rest of the structure.
The three most common methods of minimally invasive spine surgery are-
1. Tubular: it is also called ‘muscle splitting’ surgery. A tubular retractor passes through the muscles of the back and reaches the spine.
2. Mini-open: it is a lot like open surgery but with fewer risks and blood loss. The possibility of post-operation infection goes down significantly.
3. Endoscopic: it is also called a keyhole surgery. A small camera is introduced through a small incision and guided to the spine. The camera gives an internal view of the spine to the doctors.
The three types of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery are-
1. Microdiscectomy: involves the removal of the intervertebral disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord.
2. Foraminotomy: spinal conditions can lead to narrowed foramen (the area where the spinal nerve exits the spine). The aim of the surgery is to expand the foramen.
3. Microlaminectomy: this is yet another type of decompression surgery. The aim is to relieve pain caused pinched nerves or a segment of the bone pressing down on the nerves.
What are the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery?
• Speedy and pain-free recovery after surgery
• A patient is discharged the same day
• Very little loss of blood
• Reduced chances of infection
• Less scarring because the operation is done through small incisions
• Less muscle damage
Are there any risks attached to minimally invasive spine surgery?
No surgery is free of risks or side effects. Some common problems in the aftermath of minimally invasive spine surgery are-
Minimally invasive spinal surgery incorporates the latest advances in the world of technology. It is the relatively hassle-free procedure and convenient for both doctors and patients.