If conservative treatments to alleviate the symptoms of a herniated disc are unsuccessful, a surgical procedure known as a “discectomy” may be recommended. When a disc becomes herniated, a portion of the disc is dislocated and may impinge upon the adjacent nerve roots or the spinal cord. This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness to develop. Depending upon the location of the damaged disc, symptoms can affect the neck or back and may radiate down the arms or legs.
A discectomy may be indicated in the presence of:
- Back or extremity pain, weakness, and/or numbness that limits daily activities and has not responded to a course of non-surgical conservative therapy
- Problems with walking and performing essential tasks
- Impaired bowel and/or bladder function
During a discectomy, the surgeon will remove the fragment of the spinal disc that is causing pressure on the nerve. The goal of removing the impinging part of the herniated disc is to provide relief from the symptoms that have developed as well as to facilitate the restoration of function.
The doctor will discuss which type of discectomy procedure best addresses the needs of the case. In some situations, additional procedures may be performed to further relieve pressure and to provide stability.