A microdiscectomy is a type of minimally invasive surgery performed on patients with a herniated spinal disc. In the past, spinal surgery required large incisions, long recovery periods and lots of pain for the patient, but microdiscectomies have changed all of that. The key component of a microdiscectomy is the use of an operating microscope.
Patients with herniated discs often experience pain that radiates down to the extremities – a condition sometimes known as Sciatica. During a microdiscectomy surgery, a neurosurgeon removes a portion of the herniated disc to relieve the pressure on a spinal nerve in an effort to relieve sciatic symptoms.
What’s the Recovery Time of a Microdiscectomy?
Since microdiscectomies are minimally invasive procedures, expected recovery times are very short. Most patients can expect to go home within 24 hours of microdiscectomy surgery. Physical therapists or occupational therapists will likely give you instructions on how to minimize the stress you put on your back and when you can return to normal activities.
Compared with other surgeries, the pain a patient might experience from a microdiscectomy is mild to moderate. Pain from the surgery typically subsides within one to two weeks. Oftentimes, Tylenol can be used to manage the pain, however, sometimes a small Vicodin prescription is given to get through the first few days.
Essentially, patients undergoing a microdiscectomy can expect a minimally invasive procedure with a fast recovery and mild pain to manage.
Getting Back to Your Life After a Microdiscectomy
Counterintuitively, some motion and exercise post-surgery, within a reasonable limit, can actually speed the healing process. Typically, the pain a patient experiences before surgery limits their motion, which worsens the pain. An early regimen of movement may help the soft tissues affected by surgery.
Walking is a very gentle exercise on the back. Many microdiscectomy patients are encouraged to walk a short distance at first, gradually extending their walks each day, letting their back-pain guide how far they can go. A full recovery is possible within 2 to 3 weeks, and many workers can go back to work after 7 to 14 days.
Microdiscectomies are a relatively straightforward procedure with a high success rate and little inconvenience to the patient, at least in comparison to other types of spinal surgery. Patients should ideally experience minimal pain and be fully recovered very quickly.
To learn more, read about microdiscectomy treatments from Hudson Valley Brain & Spine Surgery.