Herniated discs cause pain and discomfort. A spinal surgeon can use a discectomy to treat a herniated disc and bring relief to the patient. Keep reading to learn more about this procedure and how it can help:
The Need for a Discectomy
This procedure targets herniated discs in the upper (cervical), mid (thoracic), or lower (lumbar) back. It is performed if a patient has a lot of pain or numbness in the legs that might prevent him or her from participating in regular activities, and typically after non-surgical treatments have not decreased the pain. The surgeon will perform a physical exam to see if there is any weakness, decreased range of motion, or uncomfortable feelings that surgery can help. Patients who have
cauda equine syndrome, which prevents control of the bladder and causes new weakness in the legs usually pursue surgery as soon as possible.
The Discectomy Procedure
The surgeon will make a small incision over the affected area and move the muscles aside to get a better view of the vertebrae. The surgical team might also take x-rays during the procedure to get a clear view of the herniated disc. The surgeon must also move the nerve roots to get better access to the intervertebral disc. He or she will then remove the ruptured material to get rid of pressure that is causing pain. The surgeon also removes some of the nucleus pulposus material inside the disc to prevent the issue from recurring. Before closing the incision, the surgeon will return the nerves and the muscles to their original location.
Recovery After the Procedure
Since this is a surgical procedure, it does require a brief healing period. Soon after your procedure, your physician will likely advise you to walk around or perform other exercises to strengthen your body as it heals.