A cervical discectomy is a minimally invasive surgery aiming to remedy spinal discs after a detected problem. Usually, the treatment is straightforward and provides relief within a short period after the surgery. After your doctor examines and recommends alternative treatment methods, the treatment that works best for you. As a last resort treatment option, you want to ensure you receive treatment from a skilled and experienced surgeon to reduce the surgical risks. Based on this, researching and finding a reliable medical team is an excellent start to seeking a remedy, as you will collaborate with a trusted team.
Dr. George Rappard dedicates his services to providing quality services as you undergo a cervical discectomy. Thanks to our years of experience handling spine-related conditions, you can trust us to provide the necessary treatment without jeopardizing your well-being. Moreover, our team will provide personalized treatment to ensure we meet your needs for a lasting remedy. Our services are available for anyone with spinal problems in Los Angeles, California.
What a Cervical Discectomy Entails
Your doctor will recommend a cervical discectomy as a treatment option for a spinal condition. Usually, the surgery targets a compressed or herniated spinal disc through microscopic surgery to reduce the compression as the remedy.
A cervical microdiscectomy procedure is minimally invasive, meaning that your surgeon does not conduct open surgery. Instead, they use microsurgical tools and a camera to navigate the herniated disc and perform the required action. Thanks to this, the procedure leaves minimal scarring, resulting in faster healing time.
A cervical discectomy does not require significant preparatory treatment unless your doctor recommends specific procedures based on your case. Hence, you can prepare to undergo the process within a few days of your first consultation, bringing you closer to receiving medical relief.
Although the procedure is often straightforward, you want to understand what to expect at different treatment stages. This way, you will know about the information you are to provide or the procedures to undertake in advance. By knowing, you are in a better position to begin treatment and enjoy a smooth process throughout.
Common Causes of Herniated Disc Conditions
Notably, a herniated disc triggers cervical discectomy treatment to relieve pressure on the compressed nerve. The condition may arise from various causes, particularly those likely to introduce extra pressure on the spinal discs and subsequently to the nerves. Based on multiple patient interactions, you are at a higher risk of the condition based on the following:
Certain Professional Occupations
Working in a physically demanding environment can put extra strain on your spinal cord discs, resulting in a herniated disc. The condition is more likely to occur if your job requires you to lift heavy loads, pull or push heavy weights or bend for extended periods. For example, a construction worker, sports athlete, or delivery person can be at a higher risk of the condition.
Alternatively, you may become more prone to experiencing a herniated disc depending on your genetic makeup. The gene predisposition means you are likely to inherit traits from your parents or grandparents, depending on whether their cervical discs were exposed to the condition.
Therefore, you can research your family history to establish whether your suspected symptoms are linked to a herniated disc condition. If so, you can establish when to seek treatment.
Increased Body Weight
Moreover, your spinal discs may be under additional pressure depending on your body weight. Typically, undergoing a sudden weight gain can transmit pressure across the spinal cord, resulting in a herniated disc.
The condition also becomes more likely if you assume a strenuous position when sitting, lying down, or standing. Thus, you need to make medical consultations to establish whether you can remedy the problem through weight reduction or if surgery is still necessary.
Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle
If your lifestyle involves little to no exercise, you may also be more likely to suffer a herniated disc. It may occur from using the same posture for extended durations, which places pressure on your cervical or spinal discs. Alternatively, a sedentary lifestyle can cause weight gain, resulting in the possible complications discussed above.
Thus, seeking medical directives on the best remedy for your condition is advisable to help you establish whether a cervical discectomy is necessary. If so, your doctor will guide you through the pre-surgery treatment options.
When to Seek Cervical Discectomy Treatment
If you are unsure about receiving cervical discectomy treatment, you can rely on the symptoms you observe in yourself or a loved one to decide. The indicators often point to a condition on your spinal discs, known as herniated discs. It occurs when a spinal disc compresses and puts pressure on your body's nerves.
Although the symptoms may be shared for many other conditions, you can present them to your doctor to allow them to make further examinations as required. The following are signs and symptoms that indicate a possible herniated disc and subsequent cervical discectomy as a treatment:
Firstly, you may experience general pain that increases in your back, especially near the lower back. The sensation may arise because of the compressed nerves near the spinal cord exit. Notably, your nerves transmit pain receptor signals to your brain. Thus, the pain may be intense because, in this case, the herniated disc compresses the actual nerve.
You can monitor the pain sensation over a few days to establish whether it is persistent or arose from a different trigger. After establishing that the pain is recurrent, seek medical advice from your doctor as soon as possible for your well-being.
Additionally, the compressed nerves can distort your perception of different body sensations. As a result, you may experience tingling sensations throughout your body, depending on the type of compressed nerve causing the condition.
A tingling feeling may arise without external triggers like body contact or trauma. Alternatively, you may experience the feeling only after impact or assuming the same position for a long time. Regardless of the trigger, consulting your doctor as soon as possible is advisable to seek additional information on the treatment.
Numbness In Different Parts of the Body
Body numbness is also a common symptom of a herniated disc. It often indicates that the compressed nerve cannot transmit information to the brain on different sensations, hence the numbness. If you experience body numbness, the nerve may have already undergone severe damage from the compression, so you need treatment promptly. Your doctor will provide the necessary treatment guidelines before authorizing the surgery.
Arm and Hand Weakness
If the affected nerves connect to your arms and hands, you may also experience sudden weakness or tiredness as you undertake regular activities. For example, you may be unable to lift your hand because your body's sensation becomes distorted from the nerve damage. Hence, if you experience unprecedented discomfort, you need to consult your doctor for further guidance.
Sometimes, the herniated disc is closer to your neck and shoulders, as your neck also provides a nerve exit from your spinal cord. Subsequently, the pain and numbness will likely spread to your shoulders, resulting in weakness. The sensation may also include dull recurrent pain, indicating that the compressed nerve is damaged or may face significant pressure.
What to Expect Before the Cervical Discectomy Procedure
After establishing that you need medical treatment for your condition, you will schedule a consultation with your doctor to receive additional information. The first consultation gives your doctor the information required to plan your treatment. Therefore, learning about the information you can provide is essential to promote a successful consultation.
Some consultation processes to expect include:
Undergoing a Physical and X-Ray Examination
During the first meeting with your doctor, they will undertake a physical examination to establish the target area to focus on during the surgery. They do this by placing light pressure at different points on your back to establish where you experience the most pain and discomfort.
Although the physical examination is a great starting point, your doctor needs an in-depth analysis of your spinal cord discs to determine the exact disc positions. To do this, they will direct you to undergo an X-ray scan, which provides imaging of your internal disc arrangement.
Your doctor then studies the images and determines the best treatment option for lasting relief. They will also share the information to help you understand the treatment process and what you can expect going into the operating room.
Providing Information About Your Current Prescriptions
After the examination, your doctor will engage you in additional discussions, including whether you are under any prescriptions. They do this to determine whether a specific combination of medicine has adverse effects for you so that they can avoid it.
For example, if you have an aspirin medical prescription, your doctor should know about it because the medicine thins your blood. They can adjust your treatment accordingly to prevent complications based on the information. Informing your doctor of any prescription you are under is therefore critical, regardless of whether you are just about to complete it.
Revealing Your Medical Allergies
Talking about medical allergies before the surgical treatment is also essential because it reduces complication risks. Based on this, you want to disclose your allergen information during your first consultation to provide the doctor with guidelines on elements to avoid during treatment.
For example, you may be allergic to the latex used in making doctors’ gloves. Since the surgeon is bound to make skin contact during the treatment, informing your doctor about the allergy can prevent serious reactions during surgery. Additionally, you should disclose details regarding allergies to food and medicine, including anesthesia used during treatment.
All details you provide will shape the course of treatment, so you want to provide accurate information. Moreover, you can update your doctor after finding new information before the surgery, as it can also prevent complications.
Assessing Alternative Treatment Options
Based on your doctor's findings about your herniated disc condition, they may suggest alternative treatment options before surgery. They may do this if the compressed disc can resolve itself with a changed posture or if the condition has already self-resolved, but the pain is still present.
If so, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy as an initial treatment option. The goal is to train your body by moving it and introducing new postures to reduce the cervical disc pressure on your nerves. Your doctor will review the progress after a few physical therapy sessions to determine whether it worked.
Additionally, you may receive pain medication as a preliminary treatment to remedy the condition. If the pain persists after completing your prescription, consider informing your doctor, who will schedule a review and determine whether surgery is necessary for a lasting solution.
Steps to Take Before Entering the Operating Room
Similarly, your surgeon will advise you to follow some steps in readiness to enter the operating room. The steps are protocol-based and aim to protect your safety throughout the process and promote your comfort after surgery.
Firstly, you must remove any nail and hair extensions, nail polish, and make-up to avoid interference during the surgery. Additionally, you will remove your jewelry, glasses, and other accessories from your body, as they can hinder the operation procedure. After confirming your readiness to enter the operating room, the medical team will take you in.
Packing an overnight bag before entering the operating room is also important. It should contain essentials like your toothbrush and paste, a change of undergarments, and other sanitary items. Having the essentials with you can come in handy if your doctor recommends that you remain in the hospital overnight for monitoring.
Understanding How the Cervical Discectomy Procedure Occurs
The minimally invasive surgery begins with your doctor making a small incision on your back, specifically at the identified area with a herniated disc. Once the incision is ready, they will insert tubular dilators in your neck muscles. The dilators comprise tubes with different diameters that expand into the target area without causing significant scarring.
After setting up the tubular dilators, the doctor passes through a small camera and microsurgical tools to access the affected spinal disc area. To reach the herniated disc, they may have to remove the lamina, a semi-liquid component on your spinal cord that provides support and reduces shock on your discs in case of impact. Removing lamina should not interfere with your body's well-being, as it can produce it again.
Having accessed the herniated disc, your doctor will remove the part compressing your nerve to relieve the pain or discomfort you experienced. If the nerve is inflamed or damaged, the surgical team will remove it to minimize medical risk complications.
If the disc and nerve removal go smoothly, the surgery concludes. Thus, the doctor will only need to close the earlier incision, marking the end of surgery.
Aftercare Tips to Apply for Faster Healing
Upon waking up after the surgical process, your doctor will inform you of the aftercare tips to incorporate into your daily life to promote a smooth healing process. They do this to reduce possible complications that may affect your spinal cord if you continue to apply the pressure that caused the initial condition.
Therefore, you can expect a quick follow-up session before your doctor discharges you to explain essential guidelines. You want to apply them as frequently as possible, based on the instructions you receive. Essential care tips after undergoing a cervical discectomy include:
Take All the Prescribed Medication
Medical prescriptions serve various purposes after surgery, including pain relief and fighting potential disease-causing microbes. Thus, you want to follow up with all medical prescriptions you receive to access a smooth recovery. For example, if you receive an antibiotic dose, ensure you complete it to prevent possible infections that are common after any surgical procedure.
If you complete your pain relief dosage before the post-treatment pain is over, you may consult your doctor on whether to purchase over-the-counter drugs to provide a remedy. After receiving the information, observe the guidelines as expected to prevent taking larger doses than necessary.
Avoid Strenuous Activities
Secondly, you should avoid strenuous activities likely to re-introduce pressure on your spinal discs. Hence, if you previously worked in a physically demanding environment, you need to take work leave or consider changing the environment altogether. You can also obtain a doctor’s note that exempts you from strenuous activity if your employer requires justifications to defer your operations.
Moreover, you should reduce your workout intensity if you still intend to continue with an exercise routine. Doing so impacts your recovery rate, reducing the risk of self-injury when undertaking specific exercises.
Attend All Follow-up Checkups
After surgery, your doctor will schedule follow-up sessions to check on your recovery. During the sessions, they will require new X-ray images to compare your cervical discs pre and post-treatment. Additionally, they will ask you about your daily life after surgery and whether you have experienced noticeable changes in your posture, back pain levels, and body sensations.
If your answers show an improvement since surgery, the doctor will provide additional guidelines to maintain, as there is evidence that they work. However, if the doctor notices a decline in your well-being, they can provide new guidelines to promote a smoother healing process.
Undergo Physical Therapy Sessions if Prescribed
Although many recovering patients do not need physical therapy after surgery, the doctor may prescribe it in some cases. The therapy sessions are useful for patients whose herniated discs have caused significant nerve and spinal damage, resulting in drastic posture changes. By incorporating physical therapy sessions into your healing process, you have a better chance of a lasting solution, making you less likely to face the condition.
Report Any Recurrent Pain
Although you may observe all aftercare tips, you may still experience recurrent pain in the operated area. If so, inform your doctor of the condition as soon as possible to help them assess it and determine the best course of action. In doing so, you want to distinguish between post-surgery pain and unexpected pain that begins long after surgery. This way, your doctor can decide whether to prescribe more pain medication or redo the surgery.
Avoid Driving for a Few Weeks After the Surgery
Driving requires many persons to assume a specific posture that is not necessarily the best, especially after undergoing a cervical discectomy. For example, you are more likely to slouch or lean towards one side when driving as you try to keep your eyes on the road. Moreover, driving may expose you to whiplash, especially after applying sudden brakes.
Therefore, your doctor will advise you against driving for the first three to four weeks after surgery, especially for long distances. Based on your recovery path over time, your doctor can recommend driving again, provided your posture fits the recommended position to reduce pressure on your spinal discs.
Risks Associated With Cervical Discectomy Treatment
Although a cervical discectomy procedure is minimally invasive, it may still attract some risks like any other surgery. Your doctor should disclose these potential risks to you before the process as a protocol observation to ensure you understand the nature of the treatment. Some reported risks include:
- Spinal Cord Damage.
- Internal Bleeding.
- Bacteria Infection.
- Nerve Root Damage.
- Recurring Pain.
Contact a Neurointerventional Doctor Near Me
You may require a cervical discectomy when you or a loved one experiences pain and other recurrent symptoms from a herniated disc. Based on the sensitive nature of the operation, you need to work with an experienced team that puts your health and safety first. Moreover, you should be satisfied with their experience handling spinal treatment surgeries to give you confidence in their services.
At Dr. Rappard’s Clinic, you will work with a well-trained and experienced team of medical professionals specializing in cervical discectomy treatment. Our goal is to provide high-quality medical treatment that provides a lasting remedy to help you return to your everyday life. Moreover, you can expect detailed guidelines on preventing the condition from recurring for your future well-being. Our services are available for patients seeking cervical discectomy treatment in Los Angeles, California. For more information, call us today at 424-777-7463.