Back Surgery Types - Regenexx®

As an alternative to the following traditional back surgeries, the Regenexx®-PL Disc procedure is a breakthrough, non-surgical treatment option.

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The back is cut open, muscles, ligaments and joint capsules are disrupted in order to reach the disc, which is then surgically removed.  Since part of the disc is removed, the disc will likely degenerate much faster after surgery or has a high rate of herniating or bulging again.

-Wikipedia article on failed low back surgery syndrome


The back is cut open, important muscles are removed or disrupted, often the important low back joints (facet capsules) are either in part or mostly removed.  A part of the bone covering the spinal cord is removed.


Performed through a smaller surgical opening, a portion of the backbone is often removed to allow access to the herniated disc.  The disc is then trimmed to normal shape, however, much of its supporting structure is lost, setting it up for further herniation.

Laser Back Surgery

See microdiscectomy.  This is basically the same surgery but a laser is used instead of a scapel.  Despite the “coolness’ factor of the term laser, there is no advantage in using a laser to perform a back surgery.  The disc tissue is still destroyed (in this case vaporized instead of removed) resulting in a weaker disc more prone to failure and degeneration.

-Mayo clinic article on no benefit to laser spine surgery over traditional surgery

Artificial Disc Placement

Artificial material/devices are placed between two vertebrae after surgical removal of the disc.  There are currently controversies about the reliability of research done to determine how well these work, as well as several class action lawsuits pending due to their failure.  In addition, the size of the disc is about the size of a small hockey puck, so getting this into the right space and later removing it can be challenging.

-Interesting patient discussion on disc replacement risks

-NY Times article on Prodisc safety issues


The low back is cut open to varying degrees, depending on the type of fusion.  This is the most risky back surgery as far as complications are concerned.  Metal hardware is placed to fuse the vertebra together so they won’t move, but this often leads to more degeneration above and below the fusion, which then often leads to more levels being fused over time.

What does recovery time look like for these procedures?  Since they all remove either disc, bone, muscles, or joints-recovery times depend on how much is removed and the size of the incision to access these tissues.  The shortest recovery times for a true mini micro discectomy is likely in the 4-6 week time frame, whereas for the bigger fusions, full recovery time is 6 months to a year.  Since the Regenexx procedure involves no surgical incision and is performed through a needle, the Regenexx procedure generally has much shorter recovery times with higher activity levels than the most minimally invasive of any of the above surgeries.

None of these sound like a fit for you? See if you’re a Regenexx-PL Disc procedure candidate…

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