Many people’s reaction to the suggestion of having any type of surgery is to cringe or at least be somewhat off-put by the idea. This may be due to a number of reasons, such as negative associations with the surgery itself and the recovery process afterwards, and it can prevent many from receiving the proper care needed for their condition. Lumbar microdiscectomy is a type of minimally invasive surgery that’s considered safe and effective, and it is necessary for some patients with herniated discs in certain situations.
A herniated disc, which is also known as a “bulging disc” or “slipped disc,” is a condition that affects the rubbery cushions (discs) that lie between the bones of the spine. Each disc has a soft, jelly-like center surrounded by a tougher exterior. A herniated lumbar disc occurs when some of the softer jelly pushes through a crack in the exterior, which can irritate a nearby nerve and cause pain, weakness or numbness in the legs.
A herniated disc is a fairly common condition, and in some cases those who have one do not even experience symptoms. For others though, it may cause severe pain and major difficulties with normal functioning. Many patients with herniated discs are prescribed non-surgical (conservative) treatment such as physical therapy, which often leads to successful outcomes after a course of time. But in extreme circumstances and for certain patients, physical therapy may not be enough and surgery will be recommended.
Lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, meaning only a small incision is made over the affected disc. Through this incision, the surgeon will remove the damaged herniated tissue to relieve pressure on the nerve, which often relieves any pain caused by it. This procedure has been found to be between 75-80% effective at eliminating pain in the legs from a herniated disc.
Recovery time from lumbar microdiscectomy is shorter than more intense procedures, and most patients can leave the hospital the same day or 24 hours later. Though many patients will feel much better with significantly less pain after surgery, physical therapy is still a necessary component of rehabilitation. It will typically consist of the following:
- Patients should talk to their doctors to determine when physical therapy should start, but many will be ready to do so within four weeks or sooner
- First, the physical therapist will conduct an evaluation of the patient’s condition, including strength, flexibility, range of motion (ROM) and functional abilities
- Based on the results of this evaluation, he/she will develop an appropriate treatment plan, which may include some of these components:
- Lower-back (lumbar) ROM exercises
- Hip and core-strengthening exercises
- Cardiovascular exercises and physical activity recommendations
- Physical modalities like heat, ice and/or electrical stimulation
- Scar tissue massage if there’s tightness around the incision
In most cases back surgery of any sort is not needed in the first place, but when a minimally invasive procedure like lumbar microdiscectomy is recommended, it should not be feared. Most importantly, patients should realize that physical therapy is necessary for back surgery recovery in New York City, and Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy is here to help with that process. Call us at 212-317-8303 for more information or to schedule an appointment.