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Open discectomy is the most common surgical treatment for ruptured or herniated discs of the lumbar spine. This surgery is used to remove a part of the damaged disc which is relieving the pressure on the nerve tissue and alleviating the pain.


After discectomy a patient may feel pain at the site of the incision. Patients should be aware that the original pain may not be completely relieved immediately after the surgery. In most cases some analgesics are being prescribed to ease the patient through the immediate postoperative period. 

Once the patient is being discharged from the hospital, a physician may prescribe a physical therapy. No patient should attempt to drive an automobile until it is approved by a physician.

Walking is the first physical activity a patient should attempt. In a few weeks, he or she may be allowed to ride a bike or swim. Formal physical therapy may maximize your recovery.

Possible complication of discectomy


Possible complications from open discectomy include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • spinal fluid leak
  • injury to the veins and arteries near the spine
  • injury to the nerve tissue of the spine or its surrounding protective layer
  • recurrent disc herniation which occur in approximately 5% to 10% of open discectomy cases

Prognosis

Most people with jobs that are not physically challenging can return to work in two to four weeks or less. Those with jobs that require heavy lifting or operating heavy machinery may need to wait at least six to eight weeks after surgery to return to work. Again, physical therapy may have an important role in your recovery. Full recovery after a discectomy can be expected within eight to twelve weeks in most cases.

Discectomy - pros and cons

Disectomy Pros

  • Open discectomy allows the surgeon the greatest ability to see and explore the surgical site
  • It relieves all the symptoms in almost 90% of the cases
  • Only ultimate long-run solution of back pain
  • Discectomy provides faster pain relief than non-surgical treatment
  • X-ray exposure is minimal
  • Recovery from a discectomy is fairly quick in most patients
  • Pain following surgery is usually well controlled with oral pain medication


Disectomy Cons

  • Pain at the site of the incision
  • Possible complications such as bleeding, infection, spinal fluid leak, injury to the veins and arteries near the spine
  • Recurrent disc herniation
  • Fever, weakness or numbing of the legs, or problems urinating