Laserdisc procedures, or laser disc decompression, is a term that can encompass multiple procedures. Any laser disc decompression uses laser assistance to remove damaged spinal disc material that is causing nerve compression and disc pain. These symptoms can be a source of severe disruption of quality of life and mobility, making even simple daily tasks difficult or even impossible.
Like other spine procedures, the decision to undergo any type of laser disc decompression is one that should be made only when the patient thoroughly understands the procedure. At BEST Health System we’re dedicated to patient education and are sharing the following guide to help you learn more about your treatment options. If you have any questions about the procedures we perform and how we can help you find relief, please contact us today.
What Is Laser Disc Decompression?
As stated above, laser disc decompression is a general term that can describe multiple types of minimally invasive spine procedures. One type is percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD). This involves inserting a hollow needle into the affected disc area and guiding the surgical laser through it using an x-ray scope or other visualization device. The surgeon will then use the laser to burn away displaced or herniated disc tissue that is causing nerve compression and disc pain.
Laserdisc decompression can also describe a minimally invasive discectomy that uses laser assistance to decompress spinal nerves caused by a bulging disc, herniated disc, slipped disc, or other condition. In this type of procedure, the surgeon uses muscle-sparing techniques that enable a very small incision to access the affected disc.
One important distinction is that laser disc surgery is sometimes used as a general term for laser spine surgery. However, minimally invasive procedures do not necessarily require a laser to be minimally invasive, although they are often used.
What Symptoms and Conditions Does Laser Disc Decompression Treat?
Aging and injured spinal discs can cause conditions that displace disc material and lead to narrowing in the spinal column. The discs in the spine help to cushion the vertebrae and allow for bending and flexibility. Over time, they can wear out and lose elasticity, leading to a number of conditions that cause painful nerve compression. These conditions include:
- Bulging discs – When the disc bulges outside of its normal perimeter in the spinal column
- Herniated discs – When softer inner disc material begins to push out of a crack or tear in the tougher outer layer
- Slipped discs – A commonly used nonmedical term that can either describe herniated discs, or spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra and disc begin to slip out over the body beneath it
- Degenerative disc disease – the age-related process of disc breakdown, which can cause loss of disc height, as well as bulges and herniations
These conditions are not necessarily painful by themselves, with symptoms usually developing as a result of nerve compression. Because the spinal column is so tightly built, the large volume of nervous tissue that travels through it can easily be compressed by displaced spinal anatomy, including disc tissue. This results in the following symptoms:
- Localized neck or back pain
- Shooting pain into the extremities
- Tingling and numbness
- Muscle weakness in the upper or lower extremities
Additionally, certain disc conditions can cause localized disc pain if herniated disc material irritates the small nerve endings on the disc itself.
When to Consider Any Form of Surgery
Any type of spine procedure, including laser disc decompression, is typically seen as a last resort treatment option to be considered in cases where conservative therapies have not effectively relieved symptoms. Upon diagnosis of a disc condition causing nerve compression and/or disc pain, doctors will usually first recommend the following treatment options first:
- Periods of rest
- Alternating hot and cold compression therapy
- Over the counter medication
- Epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy
If weeks or months go by without a noticeable reduction in symptoms and pain is interfering with the quality of life, doctors may recommend surgery to relieve disc compression.
Learn More about Minimally Invasive Disc Decompression Surgery at BEST Health System
At BEST Health System, our caring and the dedicated multidisciplinary team can help patients at any stage of their treatment journey. From physical therapy and injections to minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery, including disc decompression procedures, we can help you create a personalized care plan at our state-of-the-art facilities to reach our treatment goals. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about laser disc decompression procedures when you contact us today.