In most cases, a slipped disc will slowly improve with rest, gentle exercise and medication. Recovery can take between one and three months and may involve treatment with a combination of remedies including physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic and medication. However surgery is necessary in about 1 in 10 cases of a slipped disc.
Surgery may be appropriate if:
- there’s evidence of severe nerve compression
- the symptoms haven’t improved using other treatments
- difficulty standing or walking
- very severe symptoms, such as progressive muscle weakness or altered bladder function
The aim of surgery is to cut away the piece of the disc that bulges out to release the pressure on the spinal nerves. This is known as a discectomy.
The surgeon will make a cut (incision) over the affected area of your spine down to the lamina, the bony arch of your vertebra and gently pull the nerve away to expose the prolapsed or bulging disc, and remove just enough to prevent pressure on the nerves.