Lumbar Decompression & Microdiscectomy

An estimated 80 percent of the population experience back pain at some point in their lives. On any given day, approximately 30 percent of people report feeling back pain. While doctors agree that early interventions can help, they do not always provide the degree of relief needed for a good quality of life.

Benefits Of Lumbar Decompression Surgery

Studies show that 80% to 90% of patients who undergo lumbar decompression achieve marked improvement in daily function. In addition to regaining optimal mobility, patients also experience a significant improvement in comfort.

Who Is A Candidate For A Lumbar Decompression?

Surgery is typically only considered when conservative therapies have failed to achieve the desired degree of relief. Lumbar decompression may become necessary when:

  • Pain radiates to the leg
  • Pain or other symptoms persist for several months
  • Symptoms do not improve with conservative therapies like steroid injections and physical therapy
  • Pain in the legs is worse than the back pain itself
  • Muscle weakness has resulted from nerve compression
  • Pain and weakness have affected the patient’s ability to walk or stand
  • Daily activities and physical activity are difficult due to pain
  • Bladder or bowel control has been affected by nerve compression
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Our staff believes that surgery should only be recommended for diagnosed, identifiable structural issues that are confirmed through appropriate imaging.

Lumbar Decompression & Microdiscectomy

A minimally invasive lumbar decompression and microdiscectomy begins with a small incision in the skin. Dilators are then used to separate and expand the surrounding muscle with minimal damage to expose the operative site. Once the correct site is identified, microscopic instruments are used to remove bony overgrowth as well as other material that causes crowding or compression of the nerves. If a disc herniation is present a small incision is made in the disc to remove the disc material that is impinging upon the nerve. Minimally invasive surgery has been shown to result in less blood loss, quicker recovery time, and less pain compared to open surgery.

How Long Does A Microdiscectomy Take?

Lumbar microdiscectomy surgery takes between 1 and 2 hours. However, certain factors may increase surgery time.

Expected Results From Microdiscectomy

Patients can expect to regain much of their normal mobility 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. Studies indicate that microdiscectomy patients may experience significant improvement in leg pain and improvement of moderate to severe pain. The outcomes for minimally invasive discectomy have been shown to be comparable to open discectomy surgery.

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Recovering From Lumbar Decompression Surgery

Every experience is unique. Generally, patients can expect at least some of the following after lumbar decompression surgery:

  • Some patients may need to stay in the hospital for one to three days. Most go home the day of their surgery.
  • While walking is recommended to prevent blood clots, other activity restrictions may apply. Examples include bending, twisting, and lifting. These movements should be avoided for up to 8 weeks to allow optimal healing.
  • Expect to need some help with certain activities, such as dressing and bathing, for a few days.
  • The doctor may advise wearing a brace for a short time during recovery.
  • The surgical area may be sore or tender. Prescription pain medication should be taken as directed.
  • Patients may resume driving once they are off prescription pain medication and have received clearance from their physician.

How To Care For Your Spine After Lumbar Decompression Surgery

Recurrences of back pain are common. Habits such as the following can reduce this risk:

  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Using good posture when sitting, standing, and moving
  • Establish an ergonomic workspace.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Engage in an appropriate exercise program
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco use
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How Long Will My Results Last?

Lumbar decompression relieves pressure on the nerve roots but does not prevent further degeneration of the vertebrae and spinal discs. Degeneration may occur due to wear and tear, so symptoms could return at some point. However, we expect the results of the surgery to last year. A study published in the European Spine Journal reported that decompression surgery was successful in relieving symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis, including physical function, back and leg pain, in more than 60 participants. Improvements were noted 5 years after surgery.

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