DISCECTOMY PROCEDURE

 

PLANO BACK PAIN DOCTOR

Back Pain & Herniated Disc Treatment

The Pain Relief Center offers Discectomy procedures to treat herniated discs. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

 

WHAT IS IT?

Discectomy is a procedure that is designed to alleviate pain associated with a herniated disc that is pressing material against a nerve root or the spinal cord. Typically, the procedure occurs within a hospital where patients may be easily observed afterward. It is the surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses upon a nerve root or the spinal cord to cause inflammatory pain. The procedure involves removing the central portion of an intervertebral disc and the nucleus pulposus (the pain stressors within the spinal cord or radiating nerves). The symptoms of pain can affect the neck or back and may radiate down to the arms and/or legs. A discectomy is recommended if the patient:

  • Has trouble standing or walking because of nerve pain or weakness.

  • Has not experienced pain relief from conservative treatments, such as medication or physical therapy.

  • Has a disk fragment lodged in their spinal canal, which presses on a nerve to cause the pain

  • Experiences pain radiating into their buttocks, legs, arms or chest that has become too much to manage.

  • Experiences extreme leg pain, numbness or weakness that keeps them from being able to do daily activities.

 

Surgery is considered an emergency if the patient has cauda equina syndrome. Signs of this include:

  • New loss of bowel and/or bladder control.

  • New weakness in the legs (usually both legs).

  • New numbness or tingling in the buttocks, genital area, or legs (usually both legs).

 

HOW IS IT DONE?

The discectomy is usually performed using general anesthesia, so the patient is unconscious during the procedure. A special microscope is used to view discs and nerves to locate the material. Once found a surgeon makes a small incision in order to prevent excess damage to surrounding tissue and removes the material pushing against the nerve. Small amounts of spinal bone and ligament may be removed to gain access to the herniated disc. Before disc material is extracted the lamina may also be removed to help the surgeon better see the herniated disc. Ideally, just the fragment of the disc that is pinching the nerve is removed, relieving the pressure and pain but leaving most of the disc intact. If the entire disc must be extracted, the space may require the filing of the space with a piece of a bone. Once the herniated disc has been removed and replaced, the muscles are put back in place and the incision is closed. The invasive nature of the procedure typically requires it to be conducted at a hospital and patients may be asked to stay overnight.

 

 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

Recovery time for the procedure is relatively quick allowing patients to return to normal activities within a couple of weeks, with some patients healthy enough to return home the same day as the surgery. A brace or corset is also typically needed to provide extra support for the back following the procedure, and it must be worn while walking or sitting in a chair. For the first few days following the procedure patients may feel uncomfortable sitting for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. This pain will eventually subside and can be treated with pain medications to provide short-term relief. It is important to limit activities that involve lifting, bending, and stopping over for at least four weeks following a discectomy. A physical therapist can help by teaching exercises that will help improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles around the spine. It is unusual for recurrent disc herniation at the site of operation because most of the disc is removed with this type of surgery.

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