Microdiscectomy is a spine surgery where a small portion of the bone over the nerve root or disc material from under the nerve root is removed to relieve neural impingement while providing more room for the nerve to heal. Microdiscectomy uses a magnifying instrument or special microscope to view the disc and nerves making it possible for the surgeon to remove herniated disc material through a small incision causing less damage to surrounding tissue. This procedure is generally performed on a herniated lumbar disc and is also effective for treating leg pain which can be caused by impingement on the nerve root.

During discectomy the surgeon removes the portion of the disc that is protruding and herniated into the spinal cord and is performed through a small incision in the mid line of the lower back. The procedure generally includes lifting the erector spinae (back muscles) off the lamina (bony arch of the spine) which allows the surgeon access to enter the spine by removing a membrane over the ligamentum flavum (nerve roots). The surgeon either uses loupes (operating glasses) or operating microscopes to visualize the nerve root. Often times a small portion of the inside facet joint is removed to relieve pressure over the nerve and facilitate access to the nerve. The nerve root is then moved to the side and the disc material is removed from under the nerve root. It is important to note that a microdiscectomy does not change the lumbar spine (lower spine) mechanical structure.

After a microdiscectomy procedure patients are encouraged to walk and move around as soon as the anesthetic wears off. Patients may use prescription medicines depending on levels of pain during the recovery period or may consider trying over the counter pain relievers. Other activities including light exercise should be resumed during the recovery period. Be sure to avoid any activities that cause pain. If your job requires physical labor you may want to wait 4 to 8 weeks to return to work after surgery otherwise 2 to 4 weeks should suffice. During the first couple weeks after recovery walking is recommended as the primary form of exercise. The sooner you get up to walk around the less likely the risk of excess scar tissue. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist but you can generally begin swimming and biking about 2 weeks after surgery. In some cases, patients will be recommended to attend rehabilitation in the form of physical therapy and home exercises.

Cortisone injections can be used to treat injections that are widespread throughout the body, known as systemic injections (used for conditions affecting many joints like asthma, allergic reactions and rheumatoid arthritis), or they can be used as local injections (including tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis) treating small areas or the body.

Cortisone shots can be especially painful when given in the joint but there are cases when the injections can be performed with a small needle causing little discomfort. There is a slightly larger needle is used, generally if your physician is attempting to remove fluid through the needle before injecting cortisone. There are topical anesthetics that help numb the skin of the area to be injected and other numbing medications such as Marcaine or Lidocaine are often injected into site with the cortisone to provide temporary relief.

Keep in mind that like with most surgery’s, there are risk. Microdiscectomy’s risks include:

• Damaging the nerve root

• Spinal structures during surgery

• Infection during surgery

• Vein thrombosis (blood clot)

• Embolus (clot causes blockage of blood flow in the lung)

Before considering surgery, be sure to exhaust other measures for treating a compressed spine including acupuncture, which is known to relieve back pain and inversion therapy, which is safe and quick and relieves back pain by eliminating gravity.

If you have any questions or you would like more information about non-surgical or surgical procedures please visit losethebackpain.com today.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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