What to Expect in Surgery for a Bulging Disc in the Lower Back

Doctor talking to the patient

Each vertebra in your spine is cushioned from other vertebrae by a small disc. These discs have a hard outer layer and are filled with a thick fluid. The discs are supposed to absorb shock from impacts and protect the vertebrae from grinding against one another. This fluid can burst out of the disc, which is known as a bulging disc or herniated disc.

A bulging disc is a problem because it puts pressure on the nerves running through your spinal canal. This is painful and can limit your range of motion.

In some cases, treatment for a bulging disc may involve medication and physical therapy. However, many people are able to treat their bulging discs with spinal surgery.

Types of surgery for a bulging disc in the lower back

Spinal surgery may sound scary, but many of the methods that orthopedic surgeons use are minimally invasive. This means there are fewer risks of blood loss, infection, and scar tissue buildup.

Surgeons have a few options for treating bulging discs in the lower back. Frequently performed operations for bulging discs include:

  • Laminectomy — In this procedure, the surgeon removes a portion of the lamina, which is the part of your vertebrae that covers the spinal canal. This helps reduce pressure off the spinal canal caused by the bulging disc.
  • Spinal fusion — Surgeons may fuse two or more vertebrae together into one solid piece to improve support for the spine where the bulging disc is causing pain. This can reduce pressure off the nerves caused by the bulging disc.
  • Microdiscectomy — During a microdiscectomy, the surgeon removes a portion of the bulging disc to prevent it from putting pressure on the nerves. Surgeons may also perform a total discectomy, which is the removal of the entire disc. Often, spinal fusion accompanies this procedure to provide support for the affected vertebrae.
  • Total disc replacement — Surgeons can treat some bulging discs in the lower back with total disc replacement. In this procedure, the surgeon will remove the entire disc and insert an artificial one in its place.

Visit the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute for bulging disc surgery

At the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute, our team has years of experience in performing successful bulging disc operations. Our team can examine your spine and determine which procedure is most optimal for treating your bulging disc. Contact our team today for more information about bulging disc surgery or to schedule an initial appointment.