Removing the Source of the Pain Through a Tiny Incision
- Posted on: Sep 15 2019
When a person formerly told you they had to have back surgery, it pretty much entailed really long incisions, lengthy recovery periods, and painful rehab. That’s because the incision had to heal and muscle had to be cut to gain access to the damaged areas of the spine.
Fortunately, that was then, microdiscectomy is now.
At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, our surgeons perform microdiscectomy, minimally invasive surgery to remove the source of pain in patients with herniated discs. And this is done through an incision just 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.
Who could use microdiscectomy?
When a disc herniates, the soft inner gel pushes through the disc’s outer membrane. This may happen through a crack in the shell, or the disc can simply bulge and not fully herniate. The difference is really a moot point, however, as both a herniated disc or a bulging disc can push on nearby nerve roots exiting the spinal canal. This is nerve compression and it is the cause of most cases of sciatica. Sciatica is pain that radiates down into the buttocks and legs from compressed nerves in the lumbar spine (the lower back).
Most patients with sciatic can heal naturally, possibly with physical therapy or simply rest. But when the pain lasts for over three months, it may be necessary to remove the compression on the nerve with a microdiscectomy.
How is a microdiscectomy done?
The goal in a microdiscectomy is to remove the portion of the herniated or bulging disc that is pressing on the nerve roots. For this surgery, the patient lies face down under general anesthesia. A 1- to 1 1/2-inch incision is then made directly over the affected disc. A lighted microscope provides visuals of the targeted area. To gain access to the disc, we may remove a portion of the lamina that protects the nerve root. Then we insert a tiny scissor-like tool and cut away the damaged herniated tissue, removing the portion pressing on the nerve. The incision is then closed. Most patients can go home the same day of their surgery, or possibly the next morning.
Recovery from microdiscectomy is far easier and shorter than previous back surgery. You won’t be able to resume all of your normal activities immediately, but you’ll be able to get around. You’ll need to hold off on driving or lifting anything over 5 pounds for awhile, and you’ll have to not exercise or perform most kinds of physical sports for 2-4 weeks. Full recovery should be less than 6 weeks.
Do you suffer from sciatica pain in your buttocks and legs? Call the team at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, and let’s help you move past the pain.