Discectomy and microdiscectomy are common surgeries used to treat a herniated disc. But first, let’s take a step back.
Your spine is made up of vertebrae, which are bones. They make up a column stacked on top of one another, and vertebrae are separated by discs. These discs absorb shock and provide cushioning. They are made up of a jelly-like center with a tougher exterior.
A disc becomes herniated when the jelly-like center part is pushed out into the spinal canal. This is also called slipped disc or ruptured disc. It usually happens because of an injury, or due to aging and general wear and tear. Over time, discs dry out and they are not as flexible, making them more susceptible to herniation.
A herniated disc can press on nerve roots, causing pain, numbness or sciatica. If pain does not go away or worsens, it’s possible that surgery is needed. A microdiscectomy is the procedure to remove the herniated portion of the disc. It is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning a very small incision is made, rather than an operation that cuts open your back. Through this small incision, the physician inserts a small tube to spread muscle fibers without detaching them to get to the herniated part. The muscles are not cut—this means faster recovery time after surgery.
Although microdiscectomy is an outpatient procedure and considered minimally invasive, there is still recovery time involved. Most patients will be up and walking around after surgery, since walking is better than sitting, which puts pressure on the spine. Pain relievers will usually be prescribed for the patient to take following surgery. Physical therapy will likely be recommended a few weeks after surgery. Most people can go back to their daily activities in a few days to a week, with heavier activities such as exercise allowed after 4 to 8 weeks. Of course, these are just guidelines—recovery depends on many factors and is determined at an individual level.
If you are experiencing back pain or a herniated disc, contact us. There are a variety of treatment options available to you. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964.