Dear Dr. Lonna,
I have been diagnosed with a bulging disc in my low back. I have pain if I do certain things but am basically I am able to function. My orthopedic surgeon wants to do surgery on my low back to remove the piece of disc. Should I do this?

-Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

If it were my back, I would not want a knife stuck in it! Seriously think about this, the disc is deep. No matter how minimally invasive they promise the surgery will be, many layers of tissue have to be cut through to access the disc. You didn’t mention if you have tried other therapies, such as seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist? If not, start by using these more conservative treatments first, they can be very successful in alleviating your pain. Speaking from experience, we have treated hundreds of disc protrusions successfully thus preventing the need for surgery. Most importantly, start paying attention to the activities that really make your back angry and make accommodations or stop doing them all together. Basically making a plan to deal with your back issue can save from the knife attack (surgery).

That being said, occasionally surgery is indicated. This would include symptoms of numbness in the leg, loss of muscle control and / or incontinence.

– Dr. Lonna Denny