Surgery for bulging discs is usually seen as a last-resort treatment to be considered after other options have been fully attempted. Often, a person dealing with neck pain, back pain and other symptoms from this condition can find relief and a good quality of life by attempting physical therapy and receiving spinal injections and other medication.
If surgery does become a serious option to relieve bulging disc symptoms, it can be an overwhelming decision to make for a number of reasons. There are many factors to consider, including the facility, the surgical approach and the specific procedures being recommended. Additionally, it is important to choose a surgeon who is right for your condition and individual needs. There are two primary types of surgeons who can treat spine conditions — orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. Learning about the training a neurosurgeon receives and how one may be qualified to treat a bulging disc can help you make a decision with a better chance of offering the relief you require for a good quality of life.
What is a neurosurgeon and how can one treat a bulging disc?
A neurosurgeon is a medical doctor who has received the residency and fellowship training necessary to perform surgery to treat conditions affecting the nervous system, including the brain and the spine. A neurosurgeon who specializes in spine surgery can treat conditions that cause compression of spinal nerves, including bulging and herniated discs.
Spine surgery is seen as a subspecialty that both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons can be trained in. Although an orthopedic surgeon specializes in conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who train to become spine surgeons will learn many of the same spine procedures, including those often used to treat a bulging spinal disc.
Different surgical approaches for bulging disc treatment
The goal of surgery for a bulging disc is to access the spine and remove disc material that is putting pressure on spinal nerves. If you are speaking with a neurosurgeon about the prospect of surgery, it is important to consider the following:
- Make sure you are comfortable with this person, he or she makes eye contact and takes the time to explain your condition and the procedure to you
- Ask about his or her experience treating your specific condition
- Research any prospective surgeon’s practice, credentials and experience to make sure he or she is right for your needs
Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons can be trained to perform spine surgery for a bulging disc that uses minimally invasive techniques and allows for the possibility of an outpatient procedure. Speak to your doctor or spine specialist about this approach to surgery and whether it may be right for you.