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Microdiscectomy Questions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:32 AM in Lower Back Pain
If herniated disc is pressing on a nerve will anything other than microdiscetomy (or other surgery) truly remove it from the disc. I know that through PT the pressure can be relieved but won't the nerve always be affected?


  • If you have had an MRI your doctor will be able to tell you how badly and how large the herniation is. This will likely decide the course of action. Most doctors will at least want to try some non-surgical options first. They will likely send you to physical therapy as the first option. This can work for some people, did not for me. Next, they will try an epidural type shot of cortizone/steriod to try and schrink the herniation so that it will not be pressing on the nerve and so it can heal itself. Statistics show that over 50% of all herniated discs are (fixed) by one or two shots. I use the term (fixed) very loosely, as I truly believe that your back will never be the same again after a disc herniation. But, over 50% of the time a couple of shots will schrink the herniation enough so that it is not pressing on the nerve anymore, or at least not as much. Thus reducing the pain tremendously where you would be able to live a normal life. A really bad herniation that is not solved by the above options would then generally be recommended for a microdiscectomy, to simply cut off the herniated portion of the disc and leave the remainder intact. This is not a true fix either as the hole where they cut off the herniation never heals completely shut. They say it will calcify over but it won't be as "good as new". I am currently 7 months out from my microdiscectomy. I had exhausted all non-surgical options before caving in to the surgery. Even though I had some scar tissue issues after the surgery I am still glad I did it and don't regret it, at least not yet. Good luck.
  • There is some excellent information on disc herniation on this website.

    The nerve becomes irritated either from the material that spills out of the disc which can set off a chemical reaction that makes the nerve angry, or the disc expands into the space occupied by the nerve, thereby "squishing" it and causing pain.

    It is possible to recover from a herniated disc without surgery. My husband ruptured a lower lumbar disc 15 years ago and was able to let it heal on its own. The problem is that this process requires a great deal of patience...and being able to deal with pain over a period of time. Most people are not willing to deal with that and insist on surgery after the usual six week trial of conservative treatments required by most surgeons and insurance companies!

    In my husband's case, he was quite miserable for the first couple weeks. Back then, epidural steroid injections were not commonly prescribed for this condition. He used a combination of rest and exercise to recover. To prevent further problems, he is religious about doing his "back" exercises EVERY day, no matter what else is going on or where we are...no days off for holidays!! He makes sure to always use good body mechanics and when he has to do an activity that he knows will aggravate his lower spine (like raking or shoveling snow) he paces himself and always ends up on the floor afterward, stretching his spine and giving the discs a chance to unload. He keeps his weight normal...and just is always mindful of his back and to be kind to it!!

    There is yet another new study out that shows that at the five year mark, there is almost no difference between those who had surgery to repair a herniated disc and those who had conservative measures only.

    As soon as the nerve is no longer being irritated, either chemically or from compression, it should return to normal function.

    Hope this information helps. You you inquiring for yourself?

    xx Gwennie

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  • I had a microdiscectomy for 2 levels. My surgeon put me in aqua therapy after wards. I suggested to a co-worker after her diagnoses to try the pool for relief until her surgery. She did the pool thing every day for several hours and now she isn't going to get the operation. I am in my pool a lot now after my surgery and keep it up every day in the summer and fall. This has helped delay the lumbar fusion I need. I am making my back muscles stronger this way before hand. My doctor says the disks float in the water taking it off the nerve so basically im exercising the disks in the water. I also do not sit for more then a half hour without a tiny walk. I dont lift anything over 10 pounds. When I am laying in bed watching tv i tighten up my tummy to tighten up muscles also. My worse days are when it rains or when its humid and I wear a heat wrap to keep things from tightening up in my back. I also take hot baths or soak in a hot tub. All theses things reduce the pain and feel good. I am also keeping a positive attitude also. Good luck
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
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