A herniated disc in the spine occurs when the gel-like fluid contained in a thin capsule between vertebrae — known as the spinal disc — escapes through a rupture in the disc and causes pressure on the nerves surrounding the spine. The result of such a rupture is pain in the spine or even sharp pains throughout the body, depending on which nerves are being compressed by the rupture. In most cases, a herniated disc anywhere in the spine heals on its own with rest, but in more severe cases, herniated disc neck surgery may be necessary to prevent long-term or neurological damage. The diagnosis and assessment of the severity is the first step in a herniated disc neck surgery.
A herniated disc neck surgery will only be necessary in the most severe cases of a herniated disc. A doctor will typically only recommend such a surgery if improvement is not seen after several weeks, or if the compressed nerve is causing neurological issues. If a person experiences a loss of balance, chronic pains, headaches, numbness, tingling, or a loss of function anywhere throughout the body, surgery may be necessary to fix the rupture. A herniated disc neck surgery can be done two ways: an incision can be cut, allowing the surgeon to see the rupture and fix it, or a camera may be inserted through the skin to allow the surgeon to see the rupture without cutting a large incision. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.
A full incision will take longer to heal since it is a more invasive process, and the patient runs the risk of infection. This type of herniated disc neck surgery, however, allows the surgeon to see the damage to the disc firsthand, and he may be able to see other damage to the spinal disc or other spinal discs nearby. This is not always possible with the other method of surgery. Inserting a camera, however, usually ensures a quicker recovery and less risk of infection.
The recovery time for herniated disc neck surgery will vary from person to person, but barring an infection, recovery time should be relatively brief. The patient will need to rest for several weeks and work to immobilize the neck to prevent re-injury. Surgery is often considered a last resort because it often produces mixed results; many patients report the same problems, or even re-injury of the spinal disc or other spinal discs in the spine after the traumatic surgery, potentially negating the benefits of performing the surgery.