A discectomy is a surgical procedure that helps alleviate issues caused by damaged spinal discs. Whether you’re dealing with radiating pain or nerve impingement caused by a shifted spinal disc, a discectomy may be the perfect operation for you if conservative care can’t solve the problem. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the discectomy procedure and why it may be right for you.
Do I Need A Discectomy?
Discectomy operations are most commonly performed to correct an issue caused by a herniated spinal disc. When a disc shifts our of place, it can compress key spinal nerves. Aside from localized or radiating pain, this nerve impingement can cause a host of other symptoms, including not but limited to:
- Balance issues
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Inhibited range of motion
A discectomy is not the first choice of treatment for individuals dealing with a herniated disc, even if they are experiencing the above symptoms. Herniated discs tend to respond well to conservative care techniques, so many surgeons will be hesitant or flat out refuse to perform an operation until a patient has attempted six to 12 weeks of conservative options. Surgery has high success rates, but it also carries with it additional risks, so if an operation and these potential complications can be avoided by following a non-operative care routine, that will be the preferred route.
How A Discectomy Is Performed
A discectomy operation is performed with the patient under general anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing during the operation. During the minimally invasive type of procedure, which is the most common way the surgery is performed, a few small incisions will be made in order to access the herniated disc. The surgeon will then insert an endoscope which will relay a video feed of the surgical site to a video monitor in the operating room. The surgeon removes the herniated disc by watching their movements through this video feed.
In most cases, only a fragment of the herniated disc needs to be removed, but if a larger chunk or the whole disc needs to be taken out, the surgeon will insert a synthetic bone substitute into the disc space to help retain stability in the area. The adjoining vertebrae are then typically fused together to limit movement and pressure in the area.
Some patients are discharged the same day, while others will stay a night or two depending on a variety of factors. Your doctor will give you specific instructions in regards to when you can return to certain activities, but many people can return to physical work within eight weeks of their operation. During this time, you’ll be asked to participate in physical therapy and given posture education information to help drive home recovery and prevent recurrences in the future.
So if you are bothered by back pain and you believe it may be a disc issue, reach out to Dr. Chang and get a diagnosis. We’ll do everything we can to solve the issue without surgery, but if it comes to it, we’d be more than happy to perform the operation and guide you along in your recovery. For more information, give his clinic a call today at (651) 430-3800.