Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How does nucleoplasty work and is it safe?"
I was recently told by a doctor that I probably have a herniated disc (doin tests to find out now) and I have been reading about this. I read about 'nucleoplasty', but the language is very complex. What is nucleoplasty? How does it work and how safe is it?
A herniated disc can be quite painful. They occur when the center of the intervertebral disc (made of cartilage) bulges outward and puts pressure on one of the spinal nerves coming out of the spinal column. It usually causes back pain which radiates down a leg.
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For most people, the herniated disc gets better on its own and no surgery is every required. A nucleoplasty is a surgical technique where the center part of the intervertebral disc (called the nucleus pulposus) is electrically ablated preventing it from bulging out an causing back pain. It is often done with a needle that is inserted into the center of the intervertebral disc. It is one of many possible surgical techniques which are reserved for people who fail the more conservative treatment of physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your doctor that will treating your herniated disc. If your physical exam is inconclusive, then you may require an MRI to tell for sure. After that, you will benefit from a referral to physical therapy. If this fails and you don't get better after a few months, then you can consult with an orthopedic surgeon who performs procedures like the nucleoplasty.
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