Lumbar (Low Back) Pain Lumbar Microdiscectomy

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Microdiscectomy as a Lumbar Pain Treatment

When lumbar or low back pain persists and conservative treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic care and medication therapy fail, surgery may be required to correct the underlying condition.  Most lumbar pain conditions can be resolved using a minimally invasive surgical technique called microdiscectomy.  Our expert, board-certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeons can walk you through the lumbar pain treatment that is right for you.

Lumbar Pain Treatments – Microdiscectomy

Bulging or herniated discs can occur due to arthritis, trauma, or aging and they are a common cause of severe lumbar pain when a nerve is compressed. Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which allows for removal of only a portion of the damaged lumbar disc, enlarging the spinal canal and alleviating the low back pain symptoms being caused by the pressure on the sensitive nerves in the area.

Is Microdiscectomy the Right Lumbar Pain Treatment for You?

The lumbar spine is built for strength and flexibility. It houses the 5 vertebrae of the low back and is the third level of the spine, located at the base of the cervical spine (neck) and the thoracic spine (mid-back). The lumbar spine handles a lot of the body’s stress, force and pressure so herniated and bulging discs are common. The lumbar discs can also begin to deteriorate over time due to degenerative disc disease, arthritis conditions or the process of aging. When this happens the disc may push into the spinal canal and put pressure on a nerve. This will cause pain in the back, and perhaps radiate down into the buttocks, thighs, legs, feet and toes. If left untreated, this low back pain can become debilitating.

Patients generally try conventional treatments first to decrease lumbar inflammation and to relieve low back pain. These can include over-the-counter medication, therapy, epidural steroid injections, chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, not everyone is responsive to these treatments and some people may require surgery for relief of the underlying lumbar pain condition.

Microdiscectomy surgery refers to the procedure of removing only the part of the lumbar disc that is causing the nerve compression, inflammation or irritation. This surgery is performed as a minimally invasive procedure. After anesthesia has been administered, an incision measuring only 3/4” is made in the back. The back muscles are gently moved so that the surgeon can view the spine. After removing a portion of the damaged lumbar disc and verifying the spinal canal is sufficiently enlarged, the back muscles are replaced and the incision is closed.

Microdiscectomy as a minimally invasive surgery can be performed in an outpatient setting and the recovery time is often much shorter than traditional open back surgery. Patients are given instructions for wound care and medication for any pain or swelling during the healing process. The quality of life will begin to improve for the patient as healing continues. The surgeon may advise that the patient do physical therapy to strengthen the core and elongate the spine. Stability exercises will also be assigned to do at home a few times per day. A walking program may be suggested to keep circulation moving and to promote faster healing from lumbar pain after microdiscectomy surgery.

At a Glance: Minimally Invasive Microdiscectomy as a Lumbar Pain Treatment

  • Faster Recovery – Since a minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions than conventional surgery (usually about the diameter of a dime), your body may heal much faster
  •  Shorter Hospital Stays – Minimally invasive procedures help shorten hospital stays and allow you to get back to your life sooner than conventional surgery
  • Minimal Scarring – Most minimally invasive incisions are so small that it’s hard to even notice them after the incisions have healed
  • Reduced Pain – Because minimally invasive microdiscectomy is less invasive than conventional surgery, there is typically less pain involved during the recovery period

Health Tips For Lumbar Spine

  • If microdiscectomy surgery has been recommended as a treatment for your lumbar pain, enroll in a smoking cessation program beforehand if you smoke because it can negatively impact surgical results as well as the procedure itself
  • Practice good posture at all times
  • Try stretching exercises to help elongate and stretch the muscles in the lumbar spine
  • Consider restorative yoga to help strengthen and relieve pressure on the lumbar spine

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