Relieve Lower Back Pain from Herniated or Degenerated Disks with Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy
Lower back pain can make it difficult to stand, sit or lie down comfortably, which makes things like working, driving and relaxing a constant, painful struggle. If you’re suffering from a herniated disc and rest, pain relievers and physical therapy have failed to alleviate your pain, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy.
What is a lumbar discectomy?
Lower back pain due to a herniated disk compressing your spinal nerve can be treated effectively with either a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy or lumbar microdiscectomy. Discectomy involves removing herniated disc material in the lower back that is pressing on a nerve root. This pressure is known to cause back pain, leg pain, numbness or weakness or bladder control issues.
- Lumbar discectomy – Lumbar discectomy removes a herniated or degenerative disc in the lower spine. The incision is typically made posteriorly —through the back—to reach and remove the disc that is pressing on the spinal nerve. When combined with a fusion, lumbar discectomies are often performed from the front or side to avoid unnecessary trauma to major muscles of the back. This also helps reduce post-operative recovery time.
- Lumbar microdiscectomy – Dr. Shaad Bidiwala typically performs microdiscectomy surgical procedures, which use a specialized operative microscope to magnify the disc and nerves. This approach allows him to make a smaller incision, resulting in less damage to the surrounding tissue.
What to expect following a lumbar discectomy procedure
Lumbar discectomy and microdiscectomy procedures are only used when more conservative, nonsurgical treatments to relieve your pain have been unsuccessful. Average recovery times vary, largely depending on lifestyle and job duties. Recovery can be anywhere between 2 to 8 weeks. During this period, Dr. Bidiwala recommends no bending, twisting, lifting or strenuous exercises.
What makes this minimally invasive procedure so remarkable is that most people are able to return home the same day as their procedure. It also offers a significantly reduced risk of infection, less post-operative pain and minimal scarring.
Lumbar Interbody FusionLumbar interbody fusions involve removing a large part of the intervertebral disk and then placing a “cage” filled with bone or bone substitute between the two vertebral bodies afterwards. The cage fulfills two purposes: 1. It serves as a spacer that keeps the vertebral bodies from collapsing upon each other after the intervertebral disk is removed and 2. It encourages the growth of bone between the vertebral bodies above and below it, eventually resulting in fusion. Studies show that patients undergoing interbody fusions along with posterolateral lumbar fusions fuse at higher rates than those underoing posterolateral lumbar fusions alone, so we tend to recommend an interbody fusion whenever it is possible. The types of lumbar interbody fusions that we use most commonly are:
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) and
- Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF)