- Posted on: May 15 2017
Lower back pain can be due to muscle strains. In those cases, rest will usually eventually eliminate the pain and get you back to full function. But other times, the pain is due to a nerve being compressed or otherwise pushed upon as it’s leaving the area of the spinal cord. In these cases, the pain won’t go away on its own and surgery is often required to alleviate the pain. The surgery is called microdiscectomy, and it is one of the minimally invasive procedures we perform at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.
What’s behind the pain?
In many of these cases in the lumbar area of the spine, the lower third, this kind of pain is due to a herniated disc. The spinal discs are the rubbery cushions (discs) between your vertebrae. They have a soft gel in the middle and are encased in a tough outer skin. The discs’ job is to keep the vertebrae from contacting each other.
Sometimes an injury causes a tear to develop in the outer skin, and the inner gel pushes outward. When the gel pushes on an adjacent nerve that causes pain, numbness, or weakness. In the lumbar area, the pain usually radiates down into the leg, a condition known as sciatica, and the pain can be quite sharp. Over time, the nerve compression can also damage the nerve, leading to a loss of function.
How to correct it
What’s needed is a decompression of the compressed nerve. At DFW we perform microdiscectomy. In this surgery, the goal is to remove the portion of the herniated disc that is pressing on the nerve, leaving the remainder of the disc in place. Microdiscectomy is very effective at relieving sciatica.
How do we do the surgery?
We use three different methods for microdiscectomy: mini-open, tubular, or endoscopic. They all have the same basic process. First, with the patient lying on his or her stomach, we make a small incision in the area of the herniated disc. The first thing to do is move the back muscles to access the spine. These muscles run vertically, so we don’t have to cut them; we simply lift them off the bony arch of the spine and push them to the side. Now, the spine is available. In many cases, we will remove a portion of the vertebra in question to provide access to the nerve root and to further relieve pressure on the area. Next, we gently move the nerve root aside and cut away the portion of the herniated disc that is pushing on the nerve. Because we leave the majority of the disc, this doesn’t affect its cushioning properties. With the nerve root no longer compressed in most cases, the pain is immediately gone. The nerve could have suffered some damage during the tenure of its compression, and this can take time to heal, sometimes up to the year. This will show itself as numbness, however, not pain.
If you have leg pain, numbness, or weakness that is impacting your daily activities, you could have a herniated disc pressing on a nerve. See us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders; a microdiscectomy could relieve the pain. Call us for an appointment, 817-916-4685.