What Is a Lumbar Disc Herniation?
The bones of your vertebrae are cushioned by discs, which are pillow-like cushions that act as shock absorbers between the bones of your spine. If the soft interior of the disc pushes through the tough outer shell, it’s called a disc herniation. A lumbar disc herniation in your lower back is very similar to a lumbar slipped disc, a prolapsed disc or a ruptured disc. The most common symptoms associated with a herniation in your lower back include:
- Lower back pain, which may radiate to your buttocks, thighs and calves
- Muscle weakness in one or both feet or legs
- Numbness or tingling in your lower extremities
- Pain that worsens when you stand, move, sneeze or cough
The lower back is the most common area for disc herniations to occur, although the same disc issue can appear as a:
- Thoracic disc herniation in your middle back
- Cervical herniation in your upper back or neck
If you’re looking for treatment of a herniated disc in the Edison, New Jersey area, you need a specialist in the field of spinal care. At NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, you’ll obtain expert, compassionate care for herniated disc relief from Dr. Branko Skovrlj.
How Do I Know if I Need Surgery for a Lumbar Herniated Disc?
If you’re still experiencing symptoms after conservative treatments, like medications or physical therapy, talk to your NU-Spine neurosurgeon about surgery options for a herniated lumbar disc. He may recommend surgery if you’re experiencing additional symptoms, such as:
- Neurological decline, such as increasing leg numbness or weakness
- Worsening symptoms of pain, leading to a reduced quality of life
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Loss of fine motor skills or balance
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Getting lumbar herniated disc treatment as early as possible is the best path to a successful outcome. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to treat. Ignoring your symptoms can lead to long-term or permanent damage. It can also lead to complications such as lumbar radiculopathy, which is a pinched nerve in the spinal column.
What Are My Options for Lumbar Herniated Disc Surgery?
Lumbar herniated discs are treated with minimally invasive spine surgery whenever possible. Minimally invasive surgery is done using a tiny incision, which leads to a lower risk of infection and soft tissue damage. It also greatly reduces post-operative pain. The most common types of surgical treatment for a herniated lumbar disc include:
- Laminectomy. The tissue causing pressure on the nerve and the bone that covers the spinal cord is removed in this procedure.
- Microdiscectomy. This minimally invasive procedure is a type of lumbar decompression surgery, which may be done to remove fragments of a ruptured disc that are pressing on a nerve.
- Spinal fusion. This procedure connects two or more vertebrae together and may be done to stabilize the spine after a laminectomy.
- TLIF. This is a type of spinal fusion that’s done using a bone graft.
After your procedure, the discomfort you experience should be minimal. Your neurosurgeon may recommend light exercise, such as walking, to help you to heal. Follow your surgeons instructions to maximize your post-operative recovery.
Will I Have More Symptoms after Surgical Treatment for a Herniated Lumbar Disc?
You should have much less pain and very soon after surgery. By closely following your neurosurgeon’s recovery instructions, your full mobility improves after just a few weeks. You have to avoid some activities for a few weeks, including:
- Bending over
- Lifting heavy objects
- Sports or exercises that include the above movements