Lumbar Micro Discectomy

Almost everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. This pain can vary from mild to severe. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However it happens, low back pain can make many everyday activities difficult to do.

Back pain is different from one person to the next. The pain can have a slow onset or come on suddenly. The pain may be intermittent or constant. In most cases, back pain resolves on its own within a few weeks.

Cause

There are many causes of low back pain. It sometimes occurs after a specific movement such as lifting or bending. Just getting older also plays a role in many back conditions.

As we age, our spines age with us. Aging causes degenerative changes in the spine. These changes can start in our 30s — or even younger — and can make us prone to back pain, especially if we overdo our activities.

These aging changes, however, do not keep most people from leading productive, and generally, pain-free lives. We have all seen the 70-year-old marathon runner who, without a doubt, has degenerative changes in her back!

Over Activity

One of the more common causes of low back pain is muscle soreness from over-activity. Muscles and ligament fibers can be overstretched or injured.

This is often brought about by that first softball or golf game of the season, or too much yard work or snow shoveling in one day. We are all familiar with this “stiffness” and soreness in the low back — and other areas of the body — that usually goes away within a few days.

Disc Injury

Some people develop low back pain that does not go away within days. This may mean there is an injury to a disc.

Disc Tear

Small tears to the outer part of the disc (annulus) sometimes occur with aging. Some people with disc tears have no pain at all. Others can have pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer. A small number of people may develop constant pain that lasts for years and is quite disabling. Why some people have pain and others do not is not well understood.

Disc Herniation

Another common type of disk injury is a “slipped” or herniated disc.
A disk herniates when its jelly-like center (nucleus) pushes against its outer ring (annulus). If the disc is very worn or injured, the nucleus may squeeze all the way through. When the herniated disc bulges out toward the spinal canal, it puts pressure on the sensitive spinal nerves, causing pain.

Because a herniated disc in the low back often puts pressure on the nerve root leading to the leg and foot, pain often occurs in the buttock and down the leg. This is called sciatica.

A herniated disc often occurs with lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting movements.

Disc Degeneration

With age, intevertebral discs begin to wear away and shrink. In some cases, they may collapse completely and cause the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another. Pain and stiffness result.

This “wear and tear” on the facet joints is referred to as osteoarthritis. It can lead to further back problems, including spinal stenosis.

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

(Spon-dee-low-lis-THEE-sis). Changes from aging and general wear and tear make it hard for your joints and ligaments to keep your spine in the proper position. The vertebrae move more than they should, and one vertebra can slide forward on top of another. If too much slippage occurs, the bones may begin to press on the spinal nerves.

Procedure


Lumbar microdiscectomy
is an operation on the lumbar spine performed using a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques.

A microdiscectomy requires only a very small incision and will remove only that portion of your ruptured disc which is “pinching” one or more spinal nerve roots.

Lumbar microdiscectomy is usually recommended only when specific conditions are met. In general, surgery is recommended when a ruptured disc is pinching a spinal nerve root(s) and you have:

    • Leg pain which limits your normal daily activities
    • Weakness in your leg(s) or feet
    • Numbness in your extremities
    • Impaired bowel and/or bladder function

The recovery time for this particular surgery is usually much less than is required for traditional lumbar surgery. In fact, many patients go home on the same day as surgery.

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