Understanding Discectomy: Relieving Spinal Disc Pressure through surgery

What is disectomy?

A discectomy is a surgical procedure performed to address a herniated disc in the spine. The disc, located between the vertebrae, consists of a soft center surrounded by a tough outer lining. When a disc becomes herniated, the soft inner part pushes out through a crack in the outer lining, causing irritation or compression of nearby nerves.

During a discectomy, the damaged portion of the disc is removed, relieving the pressure on the spinal nerves. This procedure is particularly effective for treating pain that radiates down the arms or legs due to a compressed nerve. However, it may be less beneficial for pain localised only in the back or neck. Non-surgical treatments, such as weight loss, medication, or physical therapy, are often recommended as initial measures for back or neck pain relief.


What can be done?

When conservative treatments fail to alleviate symptoms or if they worsen, a healthcare provider might suggest a discectomy. There are different approaches to perform this surgery, but many surgeons prefer minimally invasive techniques. Minimally invasive discectomy involves making small incisions and utilizing a microscope or tiny video camera for enhanced visualization during the procedure

Do you require surgery?

Not all cases of back or neck pain require a discectomy. The decision to undergo surgery depends on various factors, including the severity of symptoms and the effectiveness of other treatments.

Healthcare providers may recommend a discectomy if:

  • Nerve weakness hinders standing or walking.
  • Conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or steroid injections, fail to improve symptoms after 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Pain extends into the buttocks, legs, arms, or chest and becomes unmanageable.

It is essential to consult us to evaluate individual circumstances and determine the appropriate course of action.

    If you have surgery, what are your options?

    When undergoing a discectomy, there are different surgical techniques available, depending on the extent of the damage and the specific situation. Ideally, only the portion of the disc compressing the nerve is removed, leaving the rest intact.

    However, in cases where the entire disc must be taken out, the space may be filled with a piece of bone, either from a deceased donor or the patient’s own pelvis, or a synthetic bone substitute. In some instances, metal instrumentation may be used to fuse the adjacent vertebrae together.

    Following the surgery, patients are usually moved to a recovery room for observation. Depending on individual circumstances, some individuals may be discharged the same day, while others may require a short hospital stay. Recovery time varies based on the nature of the job and physical demands involved. Returning to work typically ranges from 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the level of physical activity required.

    It is important to note that while a discectomy can provide relief from herniated disc symptoms, it does not address the underlying cause of disc injury or herniation. To help prevent re-injury and maintain spinal health, maintaining a healthy weight, following a nutritious diet, engaging in low-impact exercises, and avoiding repetitive bending, twisting, or lifting activities can be beneficial.

    A discectomy is a surgical procedure aimed at relieving pressure on spinal nerves caused by a herniated disc. It can effectively alleviate pain radiating down the arms or legs. While surgery is not always necessary for back or neck pain, a discectomy may be recommended when other treatments prove ineffective. Understanding the surgical options and recovery process is crucial for making informed decisions and achieving optimal outcomes.