What is an orthopedic surgeon?

 An orthopedic surgeon treats conditions that involve the musculoskeletal system. In order to become an orthopedic surgeon they must first complete medical school and a residency along with specialized training in orthopedics. Some orthopedic surgeons further specialize in a specific area of the body such as the hips, knees, hands or spine. Some orthopedic surgeons become board certified. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical options to treat trauma, spine conditions, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections and tumors.

An orthopedic surgeon might recommend conservative treatment for a bulging disc

Your primary care physician may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. Depending on your symptoms and the treatment options that you have already tried, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend additional conservative treatments for your bulging disc before turning to surgical treatment. Conservative care for a bulging disc includes rest, pain medication, exercise and stretching, physical therapy, heat and ice therapy, steroid injections and lifestyle modifications.

An orthopedic surgeon might recommend surgical treatment for a bulging disc

If the orthopedic surgeon feels that conservative treatment has failed, or your symptoms are severe, he or she will recommend spine surgery to treat your bulging disc. Depending on your exact condition and symptoms, the orthopedic surgeon will determine the best course of treatment. Minimally invasive decompression surgery removes the cause of compression, whether it is a disc, bone or soft tissue. If your condition involves spinal instability, your surgeon might recommend minimally invasive stabilization surgery. This procedure removes the cause of pain and then the surgeon inserts an implant and bone to provide stability for the spine.

Minimally invasive decompression procedures for a bulging disc include:

  • Foraminotomy
  • Laminotomy
  • Discectomy

Minimally invasive stabilization procedures for a bulging disc include:

  • Disc replacement
  • Spinal fusion

After bulging disc surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will send you home with detailed instructions to ensure that your recovery is as comfortable as possible. Take any medications as prescribed and participate in physical therapy to ensure that you heal properly.