What to expect during the Minimally Invasive Discectomy
“You have a herniated disc.” Those are five words no one wants to hear, but the condition is a reality for a growing number of people. Herniated discs can be caused by injury or accident, but are most often the result of advancing age. “This can result in severe leg pain, numbness, tingling or weakness,” causing the individual to seek immediate treatment from procedures like Minimally Invasive Discectomy, said Dr. Mark C. Valente, Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, founder, and Medical Director of the DISC Spine Institute.
About Herniated Discs
A herniated disc refers to the inner part of the disc popping out through the outer rim and into the spinal canal. These discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebra, naturally lose elasticity and weaken over time. While the condition can heal itself without treatment, or with more conservative treatments like over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and epidural steroid injections, many patients end up having surgery to get rid of the pain.
Minimally Invasive Discectomy Surgery at the DISC Spine Institute
While there are other surgical procedures like laminectomy that are recommended for some disc problems, “Discectomy is the most common surgery used for a herniated disc in the lumbar region,” said Healthline. This is the region most commonly affected by herniated discs. “In this procedure, the portion of the disc that is causing the pressure on your nerve root is removed.”
At the start of the outpatient Minimally Invasive Discectomy procedure, the spinal surgeon makes a very small incision—less than an inch long. Then, “a small tube is placed in between the muscle fibers to preserve muscles, tendons, and ligaments,” said Dr. Valente. This is in stark contrast to a traditional open discectomy, during which tissue disruption, as well as significant blood loss, are common. “Through the small tube, specialized instruments and microscopes are used to create a small window in the bone. The nerves are gently moved to the side and the piece of disc material that is compressing the nerve is removed. This is typically only 10% of the disc. The remaining majority of the disc is left intact.”
The entire procedure, which requires only local anesthesia to keep the patient comfortable, takes only 30 minutes, and patients can walk out on their own in about an hour. While open discectomies require a hospital stay.
Because of the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, recovery from Minimally Invasive Discectomy is much easier than traditional surgery. Post-surgery, you may experience immediate pain relief with only slight discomfort at the incision area. You can expect to return to work within a couple of days, but bending, lifting, twisting, and strenuous activities may have to wait as long as six weeks while you heal.
During the initial recovery period, you may have some fluid draining from your incision site, which is perfectly normal, as well as some swelling and redness. If it’s excessive or worrisome, contact your doctor. You may also have some pain in the few days after surgery, which can manifest itself as muscle spasms, tightness, tingling, and maybe even some numbness in the area—although the pain should be far less severe than what you experienced pre-surgery. Over-the-counter medications should be enough to bring you relief, but, again, if you experience anything worrisome, a call to your doctor will put you at ease.
It’s up to the patient (with support from loved ones) to make sure and follow all of the doctor’s orders to ensure timely healing. Don’t be fooled by how good you feel and try to do too much, too soon! Your doctor doesn’t want to have to see you for the wrong reasons. You will, however, have follow-up appointments to make sure everything is progressing as expected.
Advances in technology and specialization by leading spinal surgeons have made minimally invasive surgical procedures like Minimally Invasive Discectomy a popular and ever-growing option for back pain sufferers. When it’s time to put an end to your pain, contact the DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain today. Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.