If you are lucky enough to have children, you may be a candidate for reconstructive surgery. You may even be able to get surgery if you have a more serious case of herniation or you have had a herniated disc in the past.
But if you need surgery, you need to be able to pay for it.
Unfortunately, insurance won’t cover the cost of a herniated disc surgery, because it isn’t considered an elective treatment. You must pay for your surgery out of pocket.
This is not a problem for those who have insurance, but if you are uninsured, it can be extremely difficult to pay for the surgery.
You may have to take out a loan to pay for the surgery. Once you have the surgery, you may not be able to get the surgery again.
The surgery may also increase your risk for another herniated disc, so you might need to have surgery again in the future.
And if you have a herniated disc, you will no longer be able to do physical therapy. If you stop doing physical therapy, you will lose the benefit of the therapy.
If you have a herniated disc, you need to be active, even while you are waiting for surgery.
It is important to follow your doctor’s advice, especially when it comes to physical therapy.
What causes a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is caused by a weakness in the area of the spinal column. The discs that make up the spinal column are called the intervertebral discs. They are located between the bones of your spine.
This weakness or damage causes the disc to bulge out of its normal position. This forces the disc to rub on surrounding nerves, leading to pain and other symptoms.
There are many causes of herniated discs, including:
- Spinal injuries
- Overuse of a joint
- Age-related degeneration
How is a herniated disc diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, including pain, numbness, and weakness in your back or legs. You may also be asked about specific activities that seem to aggravate your symptoms.
Your doctor may order imaging tests to see if the bulging disc is actually herniating.
Imaging tests may include:
- Radiography or X-rays
- CT scan
- MRI scan
These tests help your doctor see the spinal cord and soft tissues, which are not visible on X-rays.
If your doctor suspects a herniated disc, they may suggest a myelogram, or injection of a dye into the spine. This dye helps your doctor see how the nerves are affected by the bulging disc at a glance.
Your doctor may also perform a myelogram if they think you may have a disc herniation.
What are the treatment options for a herniated disc?
Your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition.
If the herniated disc is causing a significant amount of pain, your doctor may recommend surgery. This is often a herniated disc surgery that is done on an outpatient basis.
The surgery may be performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center.
A general anesthetic is used to put you to sleep during the surgery.
Your surgeon will make an incision in your back, exposing the affected area.
They will then remove the disc and its herniated pieces.
After the surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room or an intensive care unit (ICU) for monitoring.
Immediately after the surgery, you may have pain and numbness in the incision area. These symptoms usually go away within a few hours.
If you have a herniated disc, you will need physical therapy. This can help keep your back flexible and strengthen the muscles around the area where the disc is bulging.
You may also need to do stretching exercises to relieve pressure on the nerves.
If you have a more serious herniated disc, your doctor may refer you to a neurosurgeon.
They can perform surgery on the affected area to remove the herniated disc. They may also treat the condition with medication or a procedure to stimulate the nerves.
What are the complications of a herniated disc?
The most common complication of a herniated disc is pain that comes and goes.
You may experience pain in your lower back all the time. Or you may have occasional flare-ups of pain.
Other complications of a herniated disc include:
- Nerve damage
- Numbness or weakness in the legs
What is the long-term outlook?
Your outlook depends on the cause of the herniated disc.
Surgery and physical therapy are still the best ways to treat a herniated disc. If you undergo surgery, it is usually successful.
But if you do not undergo surgery, the bulge may persist, or it may recur.
If you have severe pain, you may need surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerves. However, the pain will not go away completely.
The outlook for people with a herniated disc can be improved by surgery. Most people have a good long-term outlook.
What is the difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc?
A bulging disc is a common condition that causes sudden, intense pain in the lower back and buttocks. The pain usually happens suddenly. It usually goes away on its own.
A herniated disc can also cause a sudden, intense pain in the lower back. However, it usually occurs over a longer period of time.
What is the best way for a herniated disc to heal?
The bulging disc may heal on its own. But if it does not heal, surgery may be necessary to remove the disc and its pieces.
Surgery is usually an outpatient procedure.
The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. You will need someone to drive you home after the surgery.
If the bulging disc does not heal after surgery, you may need a second surgery.
In many cases, a herniated disc will go away on its own. However, surgery is often recommended if you experience significant pain.
If you do not have surgery, you may have to deal with a herniated disc for the rest of your life.
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