Intervertebral discs are the round spongy cushions that are sandwiched between the vertebrae in your spine. They act like shock absorbers and give your back its ability to bend and twist. Each of the discs has a center with a gel-like substance inside. Normally the discs are very spongy, but as we age, the discs become more brittle and lose some of their water content. Additionally, sometimes the discs can rupture and the gel-like fluid inside leaks out, irritating nearby nerves. Even if a disc does not completely rupture, it can bulge as it is squeezed by the vertebrae, pressing on nearby nerves. This can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness in your back, legs, and arms. Most of the time, the pain from a ruptured disc, also called a herniated disc, can be alleviated by rest, pain relievers, and physical therapy. If the pain does not subside after a few months, surgery may be an option. North Texas board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll performs discectomy procedures to remove part of the herniated disc in order to alleviate pain.
"I recently experienced a pinched nerve that severely affected my ability to use my right hand. I contacted Dr. Carll who immediately went to work on my behalf. Knowing that this was a time sensitive situation Dr. Carll went out of his way to ensure that I received the appropriate MRIs, CAT scans, and nerve studies to properly diagnose my situation. After reviewing all the test Dr. Carll exhibited true professionalism and integrity by referring me out to Dr. Patty Young (I am so thankful for your referral) who specialized in the surgery that I would need. Dr. Carll could’ve chosen to operate because I had several degenerative disc, however he chose ethics over profit. Dr. Carll is a true professional that will put your health over profit! When it comes to your health there’s nothing more important than having a doctor that you can trust to be professional and ethical. Thank you Dr. Carll for providing me with both!"- K.H. / Google / Aug 29, 2018
"After being in pain for 3 years, my neck surgery changed my life!"- K.B. / Google / Apr 30, 2023
"Dr carrell read my chart even after not seeeing him for over one year and I appreciate that more than anything. Thank you!"- C.T. / Google / Apr 17, 2023
"Dr Carll treated a broken L4&5 on our teenage son years ago - and is helping me with a degenerative disc. The office is nice, the PA is wonderful, Miss Mary even called back to let me know the prescriptions were called in. Dr Carll was kind, helpful and professional. I couldn’t be more grateful as we work to reduce this pain. I highly recommend Dr. Carll."- A.B. / Google / Mar 27, 2023
"Had an excellent diagnosis, back surgery, and recovery. Dr. Carll must have done an excellent job because I was back on my racing bike for a (short) ride only 7 weeks after surgery - and after 3 months I was back up to 60 miles. 100% recommended."- W.S. / Google / Mar 17, 2023
Before recommending a discectomy as a treatment option, Dr. Carll will perform diagnostic procedures in order to properly identify a herniated disc including an MRI, CT scan, and/or x-rays. Some common symptoms that occur with a herniated disc include difficulty standing and/or walking and significant pain in the back, legs, shoulder, and/or buttocks. The areas of pain may vary depending on where the herniated disc is located and what nerves are being impacted.
For initial treatment, Dr. Carll may recommend more conservative options. If these options do not help alleviate pain and discomfort, he may then suggest a surgical treatment such as a discectomy.
Prior to your procedure, Dr. Carll will determine the best way to access the herniated disc. Surgeries that approach the spine from the back often have the word posterior in the procedure name, such as posterior cervical microdiscectomy. Surgeries that approach the spine from the front use the term anterior, such as anterior cervical discectomy.
A discectomy is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. During the surgery, Dr. Carll will remove bone and ligaments when necessary in order to reach the herniated disc. He will then remove the fragment of the disc causing irritation to the nerve.
After the discectomy, Dr. Carll may need to perform a spinal fusion procedure to fuse together the two vertebrae on either side of the intervertebral disc. Fusing the two discs will stop the bones from moving and should prevent you from having any more pain.
For a small subset of patients, a discectomy could also include insertion of an artificial disc. Artificial discs are usually inserted to replace discs in your lower back but can also be used to replace cervical discs. The artificial discs are made of plastic and metal. A bone graft may also be performed to ensure the artificial disc remains in place.
What to Expect
Following a discectomy procedure, you are encouraged to rest and abstain from heavy lifting and long periods of walking and sitting for anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks. You will also need to attend follow-up appointments so that Dr. Carll can ensure you are healing properly and that your treatment was successful. After a discectomy, it is rare that a disc herniation will occur within the same area.
Receive Treatment Options
When experiencing pain and discomfort caused by a herniated disc, the quality of your life can be greatly affected. Thankfully, Dr. Kendall Carll at Spine Care of North Texas offers innovative procedure options for the treatment of herniated discs in order to help you get back on your feet. Contact one of our North Texas locations to learn more about how we can help you.