dreamstime_12526557 (2)You probably know the feeling. You get a tingling sensation and nerve pain down the back of your legs. It becomes hard to walk. You find yourself limping, and even when you sit or lay down, no position feels comfortable. It may even feel like a wasp is stinging your back over and over again.

These can be signs of a herniated or bulging disk in your lower back. You’ve gone to see an orthopaedic specialist, but they tell you surgery isn’t an option. It’s time to come see our specialized chiropractors at Progressive Health and Rehab.

So, why isn’t surgery an option, and what can you do for your back instead?

The Difference Between a Bulging and Herniated Disc

It’s important to understand what the difference can be between a bulging and herniated disc. For the most part, there isn’t much of a difference. However, many doctors will make one very specific distinction. A herniated disc is when the tissue that makes up the interior of the disc ruptures through the casing, known as the anulus fibrosus, and pokes out into the spinal cord. A bulging disc typically still has the casing in tack and simply pushes outside of the spinal column, impinging on the nerve space. Both cause exceptional amounts of pain and can be more than just an inconvenience.

What Surgical Options are Available

You may have had the talk with your orthopaedic surgeon about what surgical options you could pursue, including the following:

  • Partial Discectomy
  • X-Ray Guided Cortisone Injection
  • Full Disc Replacement
  • Spinal Fusion

Let’s break down each of these options and see what they’re best used for.

Partial Discectomy

A partial discectomy is one of the least invasive surgical options. This can normally be performed laparoscopically on discs that are herniated. A surgeon will go in and simply trim the tissue that has herniated through the casing away from the spinal cord, relieving the pressure.

X-Ray Guided Cortisone Injection

Some surgeons and physical therapists will recommend a cortisone injection into the affected disc prior to working through physical therapy and seeing a chiropractor. This injection can help reduce the inflammation in a bulging or degenerative disc and help make other treatments more successful.

Full Disc Replacement

A much more invasive surgery, a full disc replacement is the only surgical option for discs that bulge on all sides. It has a very high success rate, however, it should not be performed in younger individuals as the bone eventually forms around the replacement and will fuse the vertebrae together.

Spinal Fusion

The most drastic surgical option is a spinal fusion and should only ever be used as a last resort. When an orthopaedic surgeon does a spinal fusion, they remove inflamed tissue and then fuse the vertebrae together using rods, plates, and screws. This eliminates the mobility in the spine in those areas but also relieves the pressure.

Surgery is a very expensive and invasive solution to back problems. While it may be necessary for some individuals, there are other options to consider first. Check back on our blog for the next post about what options are available in the Gahanna area for when surgery isn’t an option for you!