If you have low back pain, your symptoms may be caused by a herniated disc. People with a spinal disc herniation typically experience back pain, leg pain, or tingling and weakness in one leg. If you have back pain or sciatica, visit your doctor right away to see if a spinal disc herniation may be causing your symptoms and to get started on the right treatment.
What is a Herniated Disc?
Your spine is comprised of several bones that are stacked one on top of another. Between the bones are intervertebral discs which act as small shock absorbers. Each disc is composed of two parts; the outer annulus fibrosis and the inner nucleus pulposes. You can think of each spinal disc as a small jelly donut that allows your spinal bones to move normally.
Sometimes, poor posture, heavy lifting or trauma presses can contribute to a weakening in the annulus. When this happens, the jelly-like nucleus can be displaced.
If it presses out far enough, the jelly can be pushed through the wall of the disc, and a spinal disc herniation results. The disc material that has exited the disc can press against a spinal nerve, causing pain, numbness and tingling or weakness in your leg.
Treatment for a Spinal Disc Herniation
If you have a herniated disc, your doctor will likely prescribe different treatments to help you move better and feel better. Sometimes, physical therapy or chiropractic care may be helpful. Spinal steroid injections can help decrease the inflammation that occurs with a spinal herniated disc.
If your symptoms are severe or accompanied by positive neurological signs and symptoms like weakness or severe pain and tingling, you may require a surgical intervention to fully treat your condition. A consultation with a NJ neurosurgeon may be necessary to consider surgery for your spinal disc herniation.
Surgical Approaches for Herniated Disc
When considering surgery for a herniated disc, there are many different procedures and surgical approaches that your doctor may consider. He or she should take time to explain to you the various surgeries and approaches and let you know the risks and benefits of each.
The main goal of surgery for a spinal herniated disc is to get pressure off your spinal nerves and help you regain normal spinal motion and stability. Generally, there are two different approaches that your doctor may use for spine surgery: standard open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery.
During the standard open approach, a large incision is made and your low back muscles are dissected off of the spinal vertebra. Then, standard surgical instruments are used to remove the disc material and stabilize your spine, if necessary. Then the instruments are removed and your back muscles will be repaired.
Minimally invasive spine surgery utilizes a small incision, and your back muscles are left intact with only small holes made in them.
Specialized instruments are used to visualize your discs and to remove material that is pinching your spinal nerves. Once your nerves are decompressed, the surgical tools are removed and the small incision is repaired.
Patients who choose minimally invasive spine surgery for spinal disc herniation typically enjoy the benefit of a rapid return to activity with minimal pain. The small incisions used during minimally invasive spine surgery also lower the risk of infection and reduce blood loss during the surgery.
Minimally Invasive Microdiscectomy for Herniated Disc
Minimally invasive microdiscectomy is a procedure where your neurosurgeon uses small incisions and specialized tools to cut away a small portion of your disc that has herniated out of place. This helps to take pressure off your spinal nerves to relieve your pain and restore your mobility.
The main benefit of microdiscectomy for spinal disc herniation is that patients typically enjoy rapid relief of symptoms and return to full spinal mobility. Since minimally invasive surgery leaves your back muscles intact, patient typically enjoy a rapid return to full function.
Risks of Microdiscectomy
All surgery carries with it some risk. The risks of microdiscectomy include bleeding, spinal fluid leak, infection, disc herniation, failure for the surgery to relieve all of your symptoms, and small risk of nerve injury.