MicroTube Spine Surgery - Disk Herniation, Disk Pathology, Disk Bulge

Herniated Disk Surgery

Disk Pain versus Pinched Nerve

There are two ways a spinal disk can cause pain:

MicroTube Spine Surgery - Disk Herniation, Disk Pathology, Disk Bulge

Disk pain

The spinal disk itself can become the source of the pain if it degenerates or dehydrates to the point where it causes pain and spinal segment instability (this is called degenerative disk disease).

Those who suffer from degenerative disk pain often experience low-level and chronic pain around the disk. At times, episodes of severe pain are also experienced.

MicroTube Spine Surgery - Disk Herniation, Disk Pathology, Disk Bulge

Pinched nerve

The herniated disk itself will not cause pain. However, when the material that leaks out of the disk inflames, irritates, or pinches a nearby nerve, it results in radicular pain. Also referred to as nerve root pain, radicular pain is sharp and shooting pain that often radiates to other parts of the body. For instance, the pain can travel from the neck down to the arm or from the lower back down to the leg. Leg pain secondary to a pinched nerve is called sciatica.

Disk Problems Diagnosis

The diagnostic process for both herniated disk and degenerative disk disease will include methods to confirm the disk as the pain source. The anatomy and mechanics of the pain will also be looked into. The good news is herniated disk surgery or bulging disk surgery is not always required. In mild cases, bulging disk treatment and herniated disk treatment will suffice.

MicroTube Spine Surgery - Disk Herniation, Disk Pathology, Disk Bulge

Speak to a specialist?

Our goal at Royal Spine Surgery will always be to provide you with honest answers and clear options of surgical and non-surgical treatments to provide ease of mind so you can arrive at the appropriate decision.

Review of Specific Symptoms and Medical History

Typically, the diagnostic process begins with a review of the current symptoms and the patient’s medical history. The following will also be taken into consideration:

  • The pain’s location and whether it is confined to the back or neck or if it travels to the leg or arm.
  • How the pain feels—if it is stabbing, dull, achy, sharp, or searing.
  • Whether specific positions, treatments, or activities can make worsen the pain or make it feel better.

Checking the patient’s complete medical background and history can also help identify and rule out other likely conditions that might cause pain. Information on dietary, exercise and sleeping habits is also typically collected.

Physical Examination

To accurately diagnose disk pain, one or a combination of the following tests may be done. The right diagnosis can also help determine the best herniated disk treatment or bulging disk treatment for a specific case.


Palpating specific structures can help determine the pain source. For instance, severe pain when pressure is applied to the spine can mean sensitivity secondary to a damaged disk.

Muscle strength

A neurological exam may be carried out to determine if the nerve root is compressed by a herniated disk. It is also done to assess muscle strength. A muscle strength test can include holding the legs or the arms out to the front or side of the body. Doctors will also check for muscle atrophy, tremors, and other abnormal movements.

Reflex test

Nerve root irritation can affect the reflexes of the legs and arms. A reflex involves using a reflex hammer to tap into certain areas of the body. If there is minimal or no reaction, it can signify a compressed nerve root in the spine.

Movement tests

Movement tests designed to assess the spine’s range of motion can include bending the torso or neck backward, forward, and to the side. In addition, if raising a leg in front of the body worsens the leg pain, it can be a sign of a lumbar herniated disk.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Herniated Disk Pain

Nonsurgical herniated disk treatment or bulging disk treatment is always the primary course of action for back pain, including pain secondary to a degenerative or herniated disk.

Nonsurgical treatment options can include:

  • Spine-specialized physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections

In several cases, nonsurgical treatment options can relieve pain even without surgery.

Surgical Treatment Options for Disc Pain

When conservative and nonsurgical treatment options won’t provide adequate pain relief, surgery may be considered. Spine surgery can only effectively alleviate pain if the degenerative or herniated disk seen on the MRI is confirmed as the pain source.

The following surgical procedures may be done to alleviate disk pain:

  • Artificial disk replacement
  • Spinal fusion
  • Microdiscectomy

Typically, spinal surgery is combined with a physical therapy rehabilitation program to maximize functioning and restore the patient’s range of motion after surgery.

MicroTube Spine Surgery Treatment Option

MicroTube Spine Surgery uses a minimalistic approach and allows excision or direct removal of the disk fragment through microdiscectomy. While most people use disk bulge and disk herniation interchangeably, technically, they are not the same. A disk herniation might lead to foraminal stenosis and lateral stenosis, and spinal stenosis. Click here to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive MicroTube Spine Surgery as a treatment for disk herniation and disk bulge.