You are here:
The majority of lumbar disc prolapses will resolve by themselves. A combination of rest, analgesia and anti-inflammatories, and a graduated exercise program targeted at strengthening back and abdominal muscles (including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, pilates) will be beneficial during the acute period.
Occasionally a guided injection of steroids or analgesia directly around the affected nerve root will be performed to good effect. Surgery is indicated if there is no resolution of symptoms or worsening of neurological function.
The choice of surgery will be discussed with you by the surgeon. In general terms, the aim of surgery is to relieve pressure on the affected nerve root responsible for the pain and neurological symptoms. This may be performed by a:
Which approach is taken will be dictated by the size and position of the disc prolapse and any bony stenoses evident on the relevant x-rays. A general anaesthetic is used in all operations. The patient is laid on their front (prone) and a short incision made overlying the level of the disc prolapse. The x-ray is used to confirm the level and the disc removed in a microsurgical technique, with or without a laminectomy. The ski is closed with dissolvable sutures.
The risks of this operation includes the following. A detailed discussion with your surgeon is recommended prior to surgery.
You should expect leg pain to improve after the operation. Any numbness or weakness will take longer to improve and if there is permanent damage to the nerve root from the disc prolapse this may not fully improve. It is important for you to continue back and abdominal exercises after your operation to minimise the small risk of a recurrent disc prolapse.
For more information on St Vincent's Neuroscience services and additional resources visit our dedicated Neuroscience site here.