Also known as a microdiskectomy or microdecompression, a microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgery designed to treat patients who are suffering from pinched nerves in their spinal column. This procedure involves removing a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to relieve root compression. A microdiscectomy also provides more room for the nerve so that it can heal properly and get back to normal functioning. It is an ideal procedure for treating leg pain.
When is a Microdiscectomy Necessary?
Fortunately, back pain and leg pain usually improves without surgery through conservative treatments such as pain medication, oral steroids, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy. However, sometimes, conservative treatments are not effective, making a microdiscectomy a good option.
What to Expect During a Microdiscectomy
During a microdiscectomy, Dr. Nael Shanti will make a one-inch incision in the midline of the patient’s back. He’ll start by moving the patient’s back muscles out of the way so that he doesn’t have to cut them. Then, he’ll use an operating microscope to enter the patient’s spine by removing a ligament covering from their nerve roots.
Often times, he will remove a small portion of the patient’s bone so that he can gain access to the nerve root and relieve nerve pressure. Next, Dr. Shanti will move the nerve root to the side and remove the herniated disc material from under the root of the nerve.
Recovering From a Microdiscectomy
It’s important to note that since all of the muscles, ligaments, and joints remain intact during microdiscectomy procedures, the mechanical structure of the lower spine will not be altered and patients can enjoy leg pain relief almost immediately after the procedure has been performed.
For this reason, the majority of patients who have had undergone this minimally invasive, outpatient procedure can return home on the same day. Dr. Shanti will design a specific post-surgery recovery plan for all patients who have had a microdiscectomy so that they can return to normal life shortly as soon as possible.
Most patients will be directed to meet with a physical therapist and occupational therapist so that they can receive instructions on how to reduce lifting, bending, and twisting. These therapists may also educate them on what types of exercises they can do in order to improve the flexibility and strength in the muscles surrounding their spine.
Dr. Shanti encourages patients to refrain from driving or sitting for a long period of time as well as bending right after their surgery. The majority of patients will find that for the first few weeks after their microdiscectomy, they may need to miss some work or reduce their workload in order to recover safely. Typically, the full recovery time for this procedure is approximately six weeks.