In a microdiscectomy, a small portion of the bone over the nerve root is removed to relieve neural impingement and provide more room for the nerve to heal.
A microdiscectomy is typically recommended for patients who have:
- A herniated disc
- Experienced leg pain for at least six weeks
- Not found sufficient pain relief with conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or oral steroids
This type of procedure is typically performed for a herniated lumbar disc and is actually more effective for treating leg pain than lower back pain.
Impingement on the nerve root can cause considerable leg pain. While it may take months for the nerve root to fully heal, patients normally feel relief from leg pain almost immediately.
The success rate for this particular spine surgery is 90-95 percent, although five to ten percent of patients will develop a recurrent disc herniation at some point in the future.
Usually, a microdiscectomy is performed on an outpatient basis or with an overnight stay in the hospital. Post-operatively, patients may quickly return to a normal level of daily activity.
Some surgeons restrict a patient from bending, lifting or twisting for the first six weeks following surgery. However, since the patient’s back is mechanically the same after a microdiscectomy, it is also reasonable to return to a normal level of functioning immediately following surgery. There have been reports in medical literature showing that an immediate return to normal activity does not lead to an increase in recurrent lumbar herniated disc. Although a patient may be technically allowed to resume their normal activities immediately, they should expect reduced activities due to incisional discomfort for one to three weeks.
Following a microdiscectomy, an exercise program of stretching, strengthening and aerobic conditioning is recommended to help prevent recurrence of back pain or disc herniation.