The Spine Center focuses on providing the most innovative, reliable, and safe treatment options for our Chicago area patients. This includes lumbar microdiscectomy, which is an advanced technique for removing all or part of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine.
Why Would You Need a Discectomy?
This procedure is used to remove all or part of a herniated disc. Spinal intervertebral discs are the body’s “shock absorbers,” allowing the back to be highly flexible, strong, and resilient. However, damaged discs can lead to pain as well as numbness and weakness in the back and legs. A herniated disc allows inner tissues to leak or protrude, causing pressure on the nerve as a result of the bulging disc. Often, the disc itself is not painful but the resulting nerve irritation or damage can be debilitating.
A herniated lumbar disc usually affects one side of the body, and may become more severe with movement. Symptoms are varied and may include:
- Mild to severe pain in the lower back or buttock area
- Leg pain and weakness
- Sciatica (nerve pain often radiating down the leg)
- In some cases, pain may affect the foot or ankle
- Feelings of tingling or numbness in the leg or foot
- Difficulty standing or lifting one’s leg
About the Procedure
This technique is often referred to as the gold standard treatment for removal of herniated lumbar disc tissue. It requires only a very small incision, and the ultra-precise method creates minimal disruption to surrounding tissue.
A microdiscectomy is an outpatient procedure, performed under anesthesia. Your surgeon will create a small incision, and gently move aside the muscles and nerve root. Only the damaged portion of the disc is removed. Most patients experience significant pain relief immediately following surgery. Nerve recovery is dependent on a variety of factors.
What Are the Risks Associated with Lumbar Microdiscectomy?
Though minimally invasive lumbar microdiscectomy is often considered the best practice for dealing with damaged spinal material, no procedure is completely devoid of risk. Fortunately, only minor complications usually arise from lumbar microdiscectomies.
One potential risk occurs when patients experience a dural tear, which leads to the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. This also won’t hurt your long-term health and will require a slightly longer convalescence.
Another significant risk is a recurrent disc herniation early after the surgery or possibly even years later, or spinal instability that causes further discomfort. These complications may require another surgery in order to alleviate them. In cases of spinal instability, you may need a spinal fusion, which is a more extensive surgery.
In extremely rare cases, patients may experience nerve damage. This could cause permanent numbness, tingling, or lack of strength in your extremities.
Finally, all surgeries carry common risks. Some of these include:
- Significant Blood Loss
- Deep-Vein Thrombosis
- Persistent Discomfort
While such complications do occur, they are not common.
Recovery Time for Lumbar Microdiscectomy
Every surgical recovery proceeds slightly differently. However, there are some general guidelines that you can use to plot out your postoperative experience.
Most lumbar microdiscectomies are done on an outpatient basis, but some complications could require you to remain in the hospital for up to 72 hours. Within a day of surgery, you should be up and moving around, making sure to take multiple short walks daily and to avoid bending over or lifting heavy objects.
If you find yourself not needing to use pain medication, you will likely be able to drive within a week of surgery. Just make sure that you aren’t experiencing any undo discomfort.
Many patients return to work roughly two weeks after their surgery, although some may require a full month of convalescence. For those with particularly strenuous or physically demanding jobs, they should wait three months prior to resuming their regular physical work.
If you suffer from back pain, call The Spine Center at (847) 628-8147 to schedule a consultation. Our surgeons make it their goal to use the most advanced, minimally invasive technique to alleviate your pain and restore you to full functionality as soon as possible.