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  • Writer's pictureDr Jeff Garofalo

When Surgery is Required for Disc Injuries

There are times when I will send a patient for spinal disc surgery.

Let’s spend some time together learning when you should go for surgery and when you don’t need to.

Did you know that spinal surgery has a 74-80% Failure rate!

And yes even with that rate I will send a patient for surgery if they meet the criteria for it., and if they don’t meet the criteria we will do everything possible to not send a patient for surgery.

First, let's talk about the 3 types of Disc Injuries:

Disc Bulge: this is the first type of injury that typically occurs and is usually degenerative. This means that your spine is out of normal alignment and you are putting pressure on the disc where the pressure doesn't belong and it weakens and then expands the width of the entire disc. Think of a ball of hamburger meat you want to make a patty with. You take that ball of meat and compress it and it then turns into a patty.

Disc Herniation: After the pressure sits on the disc for an extended period the bulge weakens in a focal area of the disc and then that part of the disc bubbles out like squeezing a water balloon. There are 3 types of herniations. Protrusion is a type of herniation that has the base of the water balloon larger than the apex like a mountain and then there is a protrusion that has the apex greater than the base like a mushroom.

The last type of disc is a sequestered disc fragment.

Decaying Disc: This is the final stage of a disc injury and is when the herniation has leaked out enough water and nutrients that the disc is now dying and creating permanent damage and becoming very thin. If the damage becomes bad enough the disc will completely decay and then you will have bone on bone.

When will I send it for surgery?

1. If you have a sequestered disc fragment.

2. If you have a disc problem that prevents you from having a bowel or bladder movement or you lose your bowel and bladder and you don’t even know it happens

3. If your disc herniation or bulge is compressing the spinal cord in your neck and you start to lose the function to your hands and or feet.

These are all Emergencies that involve the disc and times when I will recommend the surgery.

If you don’t have any of these 3, surgery is not recommended and we perform IDD Therapy with up to a 92% success rate in healing the 3 types of disc injuries.

For more information about helping disc injuries non-surgically email me at or call us at 260-768-4712

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