Is there a hospital stay for herniated disc surgery

Many people feel anxious about the possibility of staying in a hospital following a surgery. In the past, a hospital stay was a necessary part of surgical treatment for a herniated disc. However, since the advent of laser back surgery, herniated disc surgery can now be performed in an outpatient setting, with no hospital stay necessary.

Laser v. Traditional Surgery

When it comes to treating a herniated disc, there are two surgical options: laser surgery and traditional open back surgery. Open back surgery involves creating a large wound along the spine, then peeling back layers of skin, muscle, and connective tissue. Once the spine is accessed, doctors must perform a laminectomy, or removal of vertebral bone, in order to access the herniated disc. In contrast, laser back surgery involves the insertion of one or two small needles, through which special tools and cameras can be inserted. A laser is then used to dissolve the herniation. This makes it unnecessary to create a large wound or perform a laminectomy. Herniated discs on any area of the spine can now be treated with laser back surgery.

If you have traditional herniated disc surgery, your procedure will take place in a hospital, and you will have to stay there for several days afterwards. While the exact length of the stay will depend on how well you are healing, patients can expect to remain in the hospital for 4-5 days. During this time, your nurses and physician will focus on three things: pain management, treatment of the wound, and helping you return to a minimum level of independence.

Laser herniated disc surgery is much less invasive than traditional surgery. It takes place in an outpatient setting, and patients do not need to undergo general anesthesia. Patients can return home the same day with their symptoms relieved. Since no large open wound is created, pain management tends to be much less intensive and movement is not as restricted. Consequently, the overall healing time is much shorter.

Post-Surgery Care

Whatever type of surgery you have, it's important to prepare for your recovery before coming home. While these tips are more essential for people recovering from open back surgery, they can also make recovering from laser back surgery easier. Patients undergoing laser surgery only need to make these changes for about a week or so; open back surgery patients should plan on abiding by these lifestyle adjustments for at least a month.
  • Reduce the risk of tripping by removing rugs from your home before surgery and placing a mat in your shower
  • Have a pair of slip-on shoes with good grip on the sole, to avoid bending to tie them
  • Have plenty of ice packs on hand, as well as a heating pad if recommended
  • Make and freeze healthy meals before surgery, or buy some prepackaged
  • Avoid chairs that make it uncomfortable to use proper posture
  • Avoid smoking and excess alcohol
While it's important to avoid overexertion, after surgery you should walk for at least a few minutes a day, and start physical therapy as soon as possible. This helps prevent muscular atrophy, encourages circulation, helps prevent continued loss of energy, and hastens healing. In addition, constipation is a common side effect of major surgery such as open back surgery, in large part due to lack of movement. Walking helps to encourage digestion.

Laser surgery has transformed the treatment of herniated discs from an a major surgery requiring intensive in-patient care, to a relatively minor outpatient procedure. Patients can return to work in as little as a week, with no need for a stay at the hospital.

To schedule a consultation to find out whether you are a candidate for herniated disc surgery, please call the Datta Endoscopic Back Surgery and Pain Center at 212-430-0312.

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