Those who have experienced disc herniation know all too well the pain, weakness and numbness which can result. Whether these symptoms primarily affect the back, neck or tend to radiate down the arms and/or legs, they often cause substantial disruption to daily life and restrict mobility to an unacceptable degree.
The most frequently performed operation intended to address lumbar-related concerns, a procedure known as a lumbar discectomy, is often used to remove the damaged area of a herniated disc and relieve serious spinal nerve compression.
While it is always wise for patients to try conservative treatment alternatives such as medication, injections or physical therapy prior to opting for surgery, a discectomy offers an often minimally invasive option with a high success rate for those who have been unable to achieve the results necessary to resume an active lifestyle.
Traditional Discectomy or Microdiscectomy Procedure
A discectomy procedure routinely proves helpful for patients suffering from radiating pain, muscle weakness or other symptoms, but it is important to note that there are different versions of this operation of which everyone should be aware.
Conventional, open-style surgeries continue to be performed, but increasing numbers of surgeons are turning to minimally invasive techniques which can reduce complication risks as well as recovery times.
The so-called microdiscectomy involves removal of a small area of the bone that covers the nerve root and possibly also disc material from beneath it in order to alleviate nerve impingement and facilitate healing.
Only a tiny incision in the lower back needs to be made in order to achieve the required access, something which can be accomplished while leaving ligaments, muscles and joints in the lumber region intact. This distinction is important for patients concerned about post-operative mobility and reducing the risk of accidental surgical injury.
Best Candidates for Discectomy Surgery
Though potentially very beneficial for patients with chronic, radiating pain in the extremities, discectomies are not necessarily recommended for everyone. The very best candidates for procedures of this types are individuals in which:
- There has been substantial numbness, weakness or pain in feet or legs
- Disc herniation has been revealed by diagnostic imaging tests
- Pain in legs is far worse than that in the back
- Bowel and bladder control has been lost or reduced
- Pain medication and/or physical therapy have failed to help matters
Lumbar discectomy can be especially helpful for those suffering from cases of sciatica stemming from herniated or bulging discs or degenerative disease of the discs.
Because the majority of herniated discs actually heal within a few months of conservative, non-surgical intervention, it is wise for all patients to make an individualized determination of whether ongoing pain levels are sufficient to warrant this type of procedure.
Discectomies are widely regarded as being extremely safe. Of course, as with any such procedure, there are attendant complication risks, including those related to infection, nerve damage, spinal damage, excessive bleeding and problems with anesthesia.
However, many sufferers of chronic sciatica symptoms each year experience substantial reductions in the pain, weakness and numbness caused by disc herniation and nerve compression.
Because the procedure does not address the underlying cause of degeneration, it is essential for patients to follow their surgeon’s instructions with regard to maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in low-impact exercise and heeding restrictions on bending and twisting. Doing so can help extend the lifespan of the positive outcomes achieved through surgery.
Fighting Back Pain
Just about everyone has experienced some form of back pain or related discomfort at one moment or another. Fortunately, the lion’s share of such symptoms resolve entirely on their own in a short period of time.
Of course, there are numerous individuals for whom this type of healing proves elusive and who therefore require medical intervention to gain ultimate relief. If you are among those battling unrelenting sciatica pain, a lumbar discectomy may well be the solution you seek. To explore your options for healing, contact us today.