Discectomy Pain

Q & A With A Surgeon

Here’s an excellent question and answer interview with Dr. Michael Barnes, an Orthopaedic surgeon practicing in New Zealand.  He answers several questions post lumbar micro-discectomy.

Here are the Key Points:

Key Points

  • A disc protrusion (disc herniation) occurs when a piece of the intervertebral disc (the soft part between the vertebrae) separates or partially separates and compresses a nerve in the lower spine.
  • Disc protrusion with pressure on a nerve causes sciatica which is pain down the leg in the line of the sciatic nerve and may also cause weakness or numbness.
  • Sciatica often gets better within days or weeks without treatment but sometimes
    persists for months and sometimes never gets better without surgical treatment.
  • Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Surgery involves extraction of the disc fragment from under the nerve root through a 3cm to 4cm incision (longer in large patients).
  • Some patients go home the day after surgery, some on the second day.
  • Return to work is variable and may occur in as little as one to two weeks for
    sedentary workers who can get up and walk periodically or may take up to two to
    three months for heavy manual workers.
  • Complications or post operative problems are rare with the exception of recurrent
    disc protrusion which occurs in 2% to 3% of patients in the first year after surgery and 10% at ten years from surgery.

And the full length article can be found here

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