How Is Your Health?

An Overview Of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery For A Herniated Disc

by Camila Davidson

If you've been diagnosed with a herniated disc, you may wonder if you'll need spine surgery to eliminate your pain. It may be possible to manage your condition without surgery, but if those methods don't help your pain, then your doctor might recommend surgery, and minimally invasive spine surgery might be an option. Here's how this type of surgery is done for a herniated disc and what to expect with recovery.

How A Discectomy Is Done

When you have a herniated disc, the disc in your vertebra bulges out of place and puts pressure on a nerve and causes pain. The goal of spinal surgery is to remove part or all of the disc so it no longer presses against your nerve. In some cases, it may be necessary to have a spinal fusion along with a discectomy so your spine is stabilized after removing the disc.

A discectomy can be done as open surgery or minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor considers the location of the disc among other factors when deciding if minimally invasive spine surgery is right for you. When possible the minimally invasive option is usually chosen since the incision is much smaller and recovery is usually quicker.

How Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Is Done

This procedure can be done with general anesthesia or with local anesthesia according to what you and your doctor decide. The surgery may be an outpatient procedure so you can go home the same day. The surgery is done with a monitor that allows the doctor to view your spine without having to open your back.

Instead of making a long incision and pulling the muscles out of the way, your spine surgeon makes a small incision so a tube can be inserted that the camera, light, and surgical equipment can pass through. Your doctor will operate on your spine while watching the progress on a monitor. When finished, the equipment and tube are removed, the incision is closed with staples or stitches, and the wound is bandaged.

How Long It Takes To Recover

Expect your recovery to take at least a few weeks. Progress depends on the extent of your surgery and how fast you heal. Your doctor lets you know how soon you can return to work because it depends on the type of work you do.

You'll have to be cautious about heavy lifting and bending until your back has healed. The pain from the surgery should go away fast, and once healing is underway, you should notice your back pain from the herniated disc is much improved.

You might need to wear a back brace for a while, and you may be sent to physical therapy to strengthen your back muscles through exercise. You'll probably be encouraged to walk increasing distances each day to build and maintain your strength. Your doctor monitors your progress and will let you know when you can go back to work, drive, and resume all of your normal activities.