What can surgery do for lumbar disc herniation


Dec 31 2013 - 10:52am
Lower back and spine

If back pain is due to a lumbar disc herniation disability may be far more serious with more aggressive forms of treatment needed. Recent research shows that surgery is sometimes preferable to non-invasive treatment for better outcomes.

Back pain can be a serious problem which can cause a great deal of pain and loss of productivity. If the cause of back pain is tension on the muscles a professional massage and rest are generally very helpful for recovery. However, if back pain is due to a lumbar disc herniation disability may be far more serious with more aggressive forms of treatment needed. Recent research shows that surgery is sometimes preferable to non-invasive treatment for better outcomes.

Researchers assessed the 8-year outcomes of surgery versus nonoperative care for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation, reports the journal Spine. Over the years although randomized trials demonstrated small short-term differences in favor of surgery, the long-term outcomes comparing surgical with nonoperative treatment have remained controversial.

For this study surgical candidates with imaging that confirmed lumbar intervertebral disc herniation were followed. Interventions used were standard open discectomy versus general nonoperative care. It was observed that carefully selected patients who underwent surgery for a lumbar disc herniation achieved more significant improvement than nonoperatively treated patients. But, there was little to no degradation of outcomes in either group from 4 to 8 years. Massage, exercise and stretching sometimes helps with lower back pain relief writes ThebloggingExpert reporter Deborah Mitchell.

A herniated disk most generally occurs in your lower back and is sometimes called a slipped or ruptured disk, writes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This is one of the most common causes of low back pain and of leg pain, or sciatica. Approximately 60 percent to 80 percent of people will experience low back pain at some time in their lives. A significant percentage of people will have low back and leg pain which is caused by a herniated disk. Even though a herniated disk is often very painful, many people feel much better with just a few weeks or months of conservative nonsurgical treatment.

When the jelly-like nucleus of a disk pushes against its outer ring due to constant wear and tear or a sudden injury a disk begins to herniate. The resulting pressure against the outer ring may result in lower back pain. When the disk is very worn or injured, the jelly-like center of the disc may actually squeeze all the way through. Although pain in the lower back may improve once the nucleus breaks, or herniates, through the outer ring, sciatic leg pain increases. This results from inflammation the spinal nerves because of the jelly-like material. This may also result in pressure on these sensitive spinal nerves, leading to pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs.

Often, a herniated disk is associated with the natural aging of your spine. In kids and young adults, there is a high water content in disk. As we get age, our disks begin to dry out and weaken. The disks than begin to shrink and the spaces between the vertebrae become narrower. This is a normal aging process which is called disk degeneration.

Aside from gradual wear and tear that comes with aging, there are other factors which can increase the likelihood of a herniated disk, including:

1: Gender. Men who are between the ages of 30 and 50 are more likely to have a herniated disk.

2: Improper lifting. If you use your back muscles to lift heavy objects, instead of your legs, this can cause a herniated disk. If you twisting while you lift this can also make your back vulnerable. If you lift with your legs, and not your back, this may protect your spine.

3: Weight. Being overweight puts added stress on the disks which are in your lower back.

4: Repetitive activities that strain your spine. There are many jobs which are physically demanding. Some of these jobs require constant lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting. The use of safe lifting and movement techniques can help protect your back.

Pages