Frequently Asked Questions About Discectomy
What is discectomy surgery?
Discectomy is a surgery performed to relieve back pain or other symptoms caused by a herniated or otherwise damaged disc in your spine. In these instances, the disc is removed to relieve pressure, restore mobility and address pain being caused by the herniated disc. There are several surgical techniques that can be used for performing a discectomy, including endoscopic spine surgery, which is sometimes known as an endoscopic discectomy. This enables the surgeon to address the issue while causing minimal trauma to the rest of your back and spine. This helps minimize recovery time and is typically performed as an out-patient procedure.
Depending on the specifics of your condition, the removal of the disc may also be accompanied by other procedures, such as a laminectomy, disc replacement, spinal fusion. However, all of these considerations should be discussed with your surgeon prior to undergoing surgery.
What is a herniated disc?
Sitting in between each of your vertebrae are small rubbery sections of cartilage called “discs”. These perform a variety of functions for your spine, including acting as shock absorbers and preventing your vertebrae from grinding up against one another. Ordinarily, they’re sealed in very tightly between your vertebrae — but injury, aging and disease can all potentially cause them to extrude out from their position, creating a herniated disc in the process.
Although it can happen to anyone, this condition is particularly common among people who’ve played high impact or contact sports extensively. The more trauma your back is exposed to, the more likely it is to be affected with a herniated disc.
This can be quite painful; once the disc is pushed out, it may press on the spinal cord or other nerves. Depending on the severity of the condition, the symptoms can range from mild back pain all the way through to experiencing numbness in the limbs, or serious loss of mobility. The exact treatment will vary from person to person, but a discectomy is a common method of addressing the issue and relieving symptoms.
How do I know if I am a candidate for a discectomy?
There are a variety of different symptoms that may indicate you are a candidate for a discectomy. Some of the most common include:
- Severe muscle pain and spasms
- Weakness or reduced sensation in one or more extremities
- Numbness, tingling or burning in one or more of your extremities
- Pain radiating from the back into one or more of your limbs, often spanning its entire length
- General or chronic back pain
However, it’s important to remember that these symptoms are quite broad and there can be a number of different causes behind each of them. It’s always important to consult with your physician to determine whether a herniated disc is the issue, and if so, whether a discectomy is the most appropriate way to address it.
Who qualifies for discectomy surgery?
Not everyone with a herniated disc is necessarily a good candidate for a discectomy. In some cases, the symptoms may be relatively mild and other courses of action may be considered instead. Typically, people opting for a discectomy have lived in pain or with reduced mobility for some time, or are experiencing further degeneration of their disc.
However, if you’re considering discectomy surgery in Texas and you’re not sure if you’re a good candidate, get in touch with Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery. Our patient navigators can help connect you with spine surgeons on the medical staff that can help determine the best treatment options for you.