Question: Is low back surgery necessary for prolapsed disc?

I have a prolapsed disc at L5/S1 that just happened. After a few steroid injections, the leg pain is mostly gone; however there is still numbness in my lower leg and progressive loss of strength in my right leg.

Is low back surgery the only way to fix this (I would rather not have surgery), and if I do need surgery, can endoscopic surgery be used to remove the offending part of the disc?

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Doctor’s response: Endoscopic or micro surgery

If you are having progressive loss of strength in your leg due to a prolapsed disc (herniated disc), then surgery would be advisable. The surgery can be done either as an endoscopic surgery or as a micro surgery.

With an experienced surgeon, both types of surgery can work well. Both are usually equivalent in terms of being minimally invasive and having quick recovery times. However, micro surgery is still probably the gold standard and more surgeons are experienced with microdiscectomy surgery. Endoscopic surgery is generally more difficult and does not provide as good of visualization of the affected nerve root as microsurgery.

I would advise you to consult a spine surgeon (either an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon who specializes in spine surgery) as soon as possible so as not to lose more strength.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.