Common Questions About Lumbar Discectomy Surgery

Common Questions About Lumbar Discectomy Surgery

When someone is suffering from severe lower back leg pain, this may be a result of herniated disc material applying pressure to the spinal cord or a nerve root along the lower part of the spinal column. For patients with pack leg pain who have been diagnosed with this condition, one of the possible treatments is a surgical procedure to remove part of the herniated disc in order to relieve the pressure on the nerve. This procedure is known as a lumbar discectomy surgery.

In most cases, this surgery is performed as a lumbar microdiscectomy, an operation in which the surgeon uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. This close up view makes it possible for the surgeon to use a smaller incision and to present less risk to the tissue around the herniated disc.

Rothman Institute performs over three thousand spinal surgeries each year for patients in the Philadelphia greater metropolitan area, including the lumbar discectomy and microdiscectomy surgery procedures. Our offices are frequently contacted by potential patients inquiring about various treatments for spinal conditions, including:

  • Fractures and other traumatic injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated discs
  • Kyphosis
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal tumors and infections’

Among the many conditions we treat every year, leg pain low back pain is a common symptom that ultimately brings our patients in for examination at our treatment centers. In some of these cases, but certainly not all, a surgical procedure is necessary in order to reduce the chronic pain in the lumbar (lower back) region the patient is experiencing.

If you are considering the possibility of lumbar discectomy surgery, you should talk with your primary care physician first and foremost about the possible causes of your low leg back pain. Surgery is not always necessary to remedy pain in the lower back,remedy this pain, but and your doctor will be able to offer professional advice based on familiarity with your overall physical health. If you have already been discussing various surgical options with your doctor, you may have some specific questions about the discectomy and microdiscectomy procedures. Here Below are some of the common questions we receive at Rothman Institute.

Lumbar Discectomy Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions

What does the lumbar discectomy operation entail?
In many cases, a laminectomy or partial laminectomy is performed first to remove a small piece of bone from the affected lamina, allowing access to the herniated disc for the surgeon. Following this portion of the procedure, the surgeon removes the portion of disc material that has herniated and is pressing on the spinal cord or nerve. Most patients will have this procedure done in a hospital and will stay overnight following the surgery.

How do I know if I need this procedure?
If you have had several non-surgical procedures and are still suffering from severe low backleg pain, your physicians may determine that you are a candidate for a lumbar discectomy or microdiscectomy surgery.

What are the risks involved with this surgery?

As with any surgery, risks include blood clotting, infection, and reaction to various medications and anesthesia. The risks specific to spinal surgery involve damage to the spine or nerves, and the possibility that the operation will be no more effective than non-surgical treatments.

How long is the expected recovery time?
Many patients are able to go back to work in as few as two weeks, if their jobs require no physical labor, especially heavy lifting. For more physically demanding jobs, four to eight weeks is a reasonable expectation for recovery time. Pain medication will be prescribed during the recovery process, and as sitting for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable. However, you will most likely be able to walk as soon as the numbness from the operation wears off, andas you wake up from the procedure and you are will be encouraged to continue walking around as much as possible in the first weeks of recovery.

Contact Rothman Institute if you have any more questions or concerns about lumbar discectomy surgery. If you think you have exhausted all non-surgical options, our physicians are happy to help you as you face a complicated decision.


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