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How Microdiscectomy Can Alleviate Leg & Buttock Pain

Living with a pinched nerve causing both leg and buttock pain can be agonizing. For patients experiencing nerve pain from a herniated or bulging vertebral disc, significant weakness and numbness can result in the legs and buttock areas that correspond with the pinched nerve. In severe cases, patients may also have less control of bladder or bowel function control.

While conservative, nonsurgical therapies may provide relief for some, other individuals don’t have substantial improvement from physical therapy or activity modification. These patients may benefit from a minimally invasive surgery called microdiscectomy, which is considered the gold standard surgical treatment for disc herniation. This surgery is designed to relieve pressure on a pinched vertebral nerve..Microdiscectomy surgery may be suitable for patients who experience leg pain for at least 6 weeks who have not found sufficient relief from conservative therapies. Usually, patients are discharged either the same day or the day after their surgery.

Microdiscectomies can be performed using 3 main techniques:

  • Mini-open: Your surgeon makes a small incision and uses advanced technology to access your spine through smaller incisions.
  • Tubular: Your surgeon inserts a tube through a small incision. This tube is gently pushed through your back muscles until it reaches your spine, and then a series of expanding tubes is inserted, one around the other. These tubes gradually open up (or dilate) the area where the surgery will be done. Your surgeon then uses specially-designed instruments to remove part of your disc through this tube.
  • Endoscopic: This involves inserting a tiny video camera (called an endoscope) through a tube to enable your surgeon to see your spine and remove disc material with miniaturized instruments.

How Long Will My Nerve Pain Last After Surgery?

Microdiscectomy is usually very effective at treating leg pain, with about a 90% success rate in relieving pain in the leg and/or buttocks. The good news is that many patients have significant pain relief from a microdiscectomy and can quickly return to their normal lives, generally in 4-6 weeks. However, your doctor will advise you on how quickly you can return to these activities. Still, because lower back pain can be the result of other problems apart from a bulging and/or herniated disc, it may persist after the surgery. Following microdiscectomy surgery, patients may undergo a physical therapy program for stretching, increased strength, mobility and aerobic conditioning to prevent recurrent back pain or disc herniation.

Suffering from lower back, leg, or buttock pain? Book an appointment with our board-certified orthopedists at Comprehensive Spine Institute by calling (727) 300-2537.