Lumbar Disc Herniation (Disc Prolapse)

Lumbar disc herniation symptoms may include pain radiating to the lower limbs, numbness and at worst, weakness of strength. There may also be slapping of the feet when walking.

Some 80–90 percent of acute lumbar disc herniations will heal with simple rest. If symptoms fail to improve within one to two months or if pain increases, surgical treatment may be considered. Sometimes lumbar disc herniation demands emergency surgical treatment. Examples of emergency surgery indications include urinary retention, fecal retention disorder, saddle area numbness, progressive weakening of quadriceps or ankle extensor or flexor muscles as well as unbearable pain.

Surgery is performed from the posterior side. During surgery through an incision of less than three centimeters, the compressed point is exposed with a microscope and some of the nerves are removed along with the extraneous herniated mass compressing the spinal cord. If only a disc herniation is indicated, no fusion is generally involved.

Duration of the Procedure

The duration of the surgery is 30–60 minutes, and it is performed under general anesthesia.

Recovery Time

The patient is discharged from the hospital on the following day, typically with a sick leave of three weeks.

Pros and Cons

Surgery will provide fast relief to pain and numbness syndrome, and microscope-assisted surgery through a small opening enables quick recovery with no special restrictions on sitting. The risk of nerve root damage from surgery is extremely slim, but 10–20 percent of disk prolapses recur at the same level within a year and at any rate, within a short period of time in most cases.

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