Spinal disc problems are a common source of back pain. Most people find that their pain resolves on its own or that it is helped with conventional medicines. However, some people experience chronic pain that does not respond to conventional treatments. Nucleoplasty is a therapy that can be highly effective for resolving disc-related back pain.
What Is Nucleoplasty?
Your intervertebral discs sit between each of your vertebrae to provide cushioning. They have an outer coating that is filled with a jelly-like fluid. When discs rupture or bulge, they become less effective at padding the spine. Inflammation can cause pain and pressure in the area, which can significantly interfere with quality of life.
Many herniated discs heal on their own with no treatment at all. However, in some cases, discs will become chronically herniated or will become re-injured repeatedly. Some individuals find that conventional treatments that include oral medications do not provide the relief they need from disc-related pain. When this occurs, nucleoplasty is an option.
Nucleoplasty is a relatively new therapy for treating pain that comes from a spinal disc. It relieves pressure in a spinal disc, which, in turn, can lead to significant reductions in pain. It does this by reducing the production of products within the spinal disc that can cause irritation.
Nucleoplasty has been shown to successfully decompress discs in most patients. After nucleoplasty, patients report lower pain scores. Among individuals using narcotic pain relievers for disc pain, 79% are able to eliminate these medications.
How Is Nucleoplasty Performed?
Nucleoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis under sterile conditions. You will lie facedown on an X-ray table. You may be given a mild sedative and local anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the procedure.
Your doctor will use X-ray guidance to insert a small needle into the sidewall of the desired spinal disc.
Then, a special probe is inserted into the desired spinal disc. A small amount of the disc fluid is removed. Then, controlled heat is applied. This causes the pressure within the disc wall to decrease, which can reduce the bulging or protrusion of the disc.
The procedure typically takes under an hour. You'll probably be kept for a little while afterward so we can monitor you for side effects or complications.
You may experience an increase in pain immediately after the procedure. This will usually subside within one to 14 days. How quickly the procedure will provide pain relief will depend on how many discs are being treated. Most people experience symptom relief within two weeks of their procedure if they are having a single disc treated. People who are have two discs treated will typically experience relief after two to four weeks. It is recommended that you take two to three days off work after the procedure if you do not have a physically demanding job. Those whose jobs include heavy physical labor should expect to stay out of work for one to two weeks. Physical therapy can be started two to four weeks after the procedure.
Conditions Related to Nucleoplasty
Nucleoplasty is an option for people who have contained disc herniation that has not responded to more conservative approaches. It can also be effective for conditions that involve degeneration of the discs.
Most back and leg pain related to a herniated disc resolves on its own within a couple of months; if yours persist, it may be time to explore other options. Experts say that nucleoplasty is best for people who are currently experiencing back or leg pain that severely interferes with their everyday lives. It can be a more conservative option when surgery might otherwise be considered.
Request a Consultation
If you have disc pain that has not responded to other treatments, nucleoplasty can be an option for you. Give us a call to make an appointment. We will discuss this therapy and other options to battle your pain and help you regain your active lifestyle.