Lumbar Discectomy: A Patient’s Guide

 In Back Therapy

A lumbar discectomy is a surgery that aims to fix a disc in the lower back. Your backbone, or spinal column, is made of bones called vertebrae, which help protect the spinal cord. Between each vertebra is a disc, which provides cushioning and support. As we age, these discs change by dehydrating and shrinking, and signs of degeneration start to appear. When this happens, a herniated or bulging disc may occur. This occurrence can then cause symptoms – such as weakness, pain, or tingling sensations – to manifest in the lower back or a nearby part of the body. Patients may need this surgery if experiencing these symptoms; however, it is best to contact a doctor to first exhaust more conservative treatment options.

A lumbar discectomy, which intends to remove the herniated or bulging portion of the disc, can be performed in a couple of different ways. Depending on a spine surgeon’s recommendation, patients can elect for a microdiscectomy, a laser discectomy, or an open lumbar discectomy.

Is Lumbar Discectomy a Major Surgery?

With several options for lumbar discectomies, the surgery has varying levels of significance and subsequent recovery time. Options for lumbar discectomies include:

  • Microdiscectomy – a minimally invasive version of the procedure in which a surgeon will remove the damaged part of the disc with a small tube. The tube is inserted through a very small incision on the back. Next, a tiny camera and tools are inserted through the tube to remove the damaged portion of the disc.
  • Laser discectomy – with this option, no incision is necessary; instead, a surgeon utilizes a laser inserted through a needle to burn the damaged tissue away.
  • Open lumbar discectomy – in this version of the procedure, a surgeon will make a large incision to remove the damaged disc. Open lumbar discectomy requires a longer operation time and lengthier recovery.

A patient’s surgeon will choose which version of a lumbar discectomy to perform based on their unique situation. To find out which procedure is right for you, contact the award-winning surgeons at New Jersey Spine Specialists today.

How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover from a Discectomy?

Since the invasiveness of lumbar discectomies can vary, the recovery time can as well. Typically, patients can resume their normal life anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure. For at least 2 to 4 weeks after their lumbar discectomy, patients should limit bending, lifting of heaving objects, and long periods of sitting. Following the surgery, patients may also need physical therapy to strengthen their back, as well as a back brace for a limited time.

What is the Success Rate of Lumbar Discectomy?

Lumbar discectomies are often successful and effective, so long as the patient is a suitable candidate. While any surgery has risks, the success rates for lumbar discectomies are generally high. More importantly, a successful lumbar discectomy yields substantial relief for painful symptoms caused by the damaged discs within the lumbar region.

Plan a Lumbar Discectomy at NJSS

To understand if a lumbar discectomy is a viable option for you, contact the board-certified doctors at New Jersey Spine Specialists today by dialing (908) 608-9619. After a complete consultation, our spine specialists can help schedule your procedure at one of our many affiliated hospitals.

* Spine Health:
* John Hopkins Medicine:

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