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Lumbar Disc Surgery

What are Lumbar discs?

Lumbar discs are the spongy, fluid-filled discs located between the vertebrae, or bones, in the lower back. They allow movement in your lower back and help you twist and bend.

By age 60, most people have some form of degeneration in the spinal discs. They may bulge, herniate or lose fluid, becoming thinner. Many people do not experience pain or other symptoms when that happens. However, when a disc degenerates, it can move out of position, putting pressure on the nerves in the spine.

In addition to disc degeneration, other conditions may require disc surgery. Facet, or joint, degeneration and osteophyte formation, or bone spurs, may also cause nerve root compression leasing to leg pain, also known as radiculopathy.

Common symptoms of disc or facet degeneration and osteophyte formation

  • Pain caused by pressure on surrounding nerves (can occur in various locations) 
  • Weakness that radiates down to the buttocks and leg
  • Radiculopathy (leg pain)

When is lumbar disc surgery performed?

With rest and mild pain medications, most people experience relief from low back pain within about six months. Only a small number of people may experience pain and loss of movement that can only be alleviated by surgery, and the surgeons at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists believe in trying conservative treatments before surgery. Each patient is different, so talk with your surgeon about the right treatment plan for you.

You may be a candidate for surgery if:

  • You have recurrent, almost constant pain
  • Daily activities are limited
  • Tests show that your degeneration could be improved by surgery

Surgical treatment

There are two options for lumbar disc surgery – fusion and discectomy.

During a lumbar disc fusion your surgeon may:

  • Remove the problematic disc.
  • Fuse the vertebrae above and below it together with a bone graft. Over a few months, the body forms new, strong bone around the graft.

During a lumbar discectomy your surgeon will:

  • Remove the degenerated disc.
  • Replace it with an artificial one.

Thesurgeons at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists can help you decide on the treatment that's best for you. They specialize in and are experienced in diagnosing and treating disc disorders and disease, using the newest techniques for relieving pain and returning you to an active lifestyle. To make an appointment at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, call 919-784-1410.