Disk Fixes for Lower Back Pain

About 80% of Americans have low back pain at some point. Although it's rare, low back pain is usually temporary. If yours persists for several weeks or even months you might consider surgery.

Many causes can cause low back pain. It's often related to the rubbery cushions that cushion your spine. It's possible for things to go wrong. Sometimes disk s may become damaged (your doctor might say that yours is degenerated). They're no more able to offer proper support or cushioning.

Herniated is a disk that moves out of its place. This happens quite often. The disk can press onto your sciatic nerve when this happens. It can result in pain radiating down your legs and lower back.

Sheeraz Qureshi MD is the spine fellowship director at The Spine Hospital at Mount Sinai.

Most people can resolve their disk issues without having to undergo an operation. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids injections all can make a huge difference. It is also possible to get some rest and have patience.

Carlos A. Bagley MD director of Neurological Surgery Spine Program at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, states that "About 80-85% of patients suffering from herniated discs will improve over time."

You are not one of these lucky ones. Continue reading.

What is the Best Kind of Surgery for You? Most people don't. It might not be the best option if other alternatives have been tried for between 6-12 weeks. It may be necessary sooner if you:

You are experiencing severe pain. It's so severe that your muscles feel weak and you have trouble getting around. A bulging disc is pressing onto a nerve, causing you to lose bladder control or your bowel control. Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRIs. They will be able to better understand what is causing the pain. These can help to ensure that your body is not suffering from any other issues.

What Types of Surgery Are There? You can fix your disk problems in many ways. It all depends on the details of your procedure.

Herniated/bulging/slipped disk: The procedure is called microdiscectomy. The surgeon cuts off the area of the disc that is pushing against a nerve. This can be done in one of two ways. Traditional methods involve a one-inch cut by the doctor and the detaching of the muscles on the opposite side of the back. This allows them to access the bony area where the nerve is affected. They can then remove any fragments of disk that may be affecting the nerve.

An incision that is smaller for a new option will be required. This procedure may be called minimally invasive by the doctor. The doctor uses special tools, called dilations, to get at the nerve. Qureshi says that the main benefit is not having to remove and reattach back muscles.

A problem with degenerated disks in the 60s. There may also be arthritis in your facet joints. Your doctor might call it "stenosis" if this happens. This puts strain on nerves located within the bony channels. This can be solved by removing bone spurs, widening the channel and removing any other bones. For a more stable spine, your surgeon might place spacers between vertebrae. Spinal fusion is also known as "spinal fusion".

Another option is to replace the spinal discs. However, it's not as common as it once was. Qureshi has stated that insurance companies may not be able to cover this procedure due to doubts about its effectiveness. You can get it covered if you have your disks in your 20s or 30, rather than 60.

What to Expect? A microdiscectomy can be done outpatient and you will likely go home that same day. You'll probably spend one to two nights at the hospital if you have spinal fusion.

While surgery may not be without risks, it is safe provided you are able to undergo anesthesia. Spinal fluid headaches are a possible side effect. This happens when the membrane that surrounds your spinal cord is punctured or fluid leaks out. Bagley states that it's not serious and is easily treated.

The results of spinal disk surgery are also good, but they can vary depending on the severity of your condition. Qureshi states that a herniated disc will never be completely normal after surgery. The procedure will relieve your pain and take pressure off of the nerve. He states that 98% of patients don't require another surgery at the same location.

After lumbar disc surgery, most people receive physical therapy. Each person's recovery will vary. The recovery from microdiscectomy takes only a couple of days. To avoid injuries, Bagley advises that you should take it easy for the first four to six weeks.

He likes to get his patients back to school. The exercises will help you strengthen your core and teach you how to correctly bend and lift. You're likely to injure your back again if you try to do the same thing you did before surgery.

Qureshi says that physical therapy may be more necessary for spinal fusion patients or those who have had disk replacement. Within 2 to 3 weeks, you can return to normal activity.