Dr. Christopher Lindsay is a board-eligible orthopedic back, neck, and spine doctor practicing in EmergeOrtho’s Asheville, NC, location. Dr. Lindsay is committed to utilizing the latest advancements in orthopedic surgeries to optimize his patients’ surgical results. He is skilled and experienced in the latest minimally invasive techniques to help his patients reduce their pain and increase their mobility. Among the many kinds of procedures Dr. Lindsay performs for his back and spine patients is a microdiscectomy – a type of minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of herniated discs.

Herniated Discs: Symptoms and Risk Factors

A herniated disc occurs when the cushioning between vertebrae, known as spinal discs, bulges or ruptures, causing the disc to press on a nearby nerve. This can lead to nerve compression that cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Radiating Pain: pain that travels from the back to arms or legs
  • Numbness or tingling: sensations like a “pins and needles” feeling
  • Muscle Weakness: reduced strength or control in muscles connected to affected nerves

Most people can’t pinpoint the cause of their herniated disc. Sometimes, they mistakenly use the back muscles instead of the leg and thigh muscles to lift heavy objects causing the disc to rupture. Also, twisting and turning while lifting can cause a herniated disc. Though rare, a traumatic event such as a fall or a blow to the back causes a disc to rupture.

Factors that can increase the risk of a herniated disc include:

  • Weight: excess body weight causes extra stress on the discs in the lower back
  • Occupation: repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways, and twisting on the job can lead to a herniated disc
  • Genetics: some people are born with a predisposition to developing a herniated disc
  • Smoking: research has shown that regularly smoking can lessen the oxygen going to discs, causing them to break down
  • Being sedentary: regular exercise can help prevent a herniated disc

What is a Microdiscectomy?

A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure for the relief of pain and other symptoms caused by a herniated disc. Minimally invasive means that the skin incision made for the surgery is smaller than a traditional “open” surgical approach. During the operation, the surgeon frees the nerve by removing small portions of bone, ligament, and disc which may be compressing it. The smaller incision expedites recovery times and minimizes scarring. During a microdiscectomy, surgeons use special instruments and retractors, as well as an operating microscope to efficiently and safely complete the surgery.

Advantages of a Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

A microdiscectomy procedure has a number of advantages over traditional spine surgery techniques, including:

  • Smaller incisions: this means less damage to surrounding muscle which leads to speedier recovery and reduced scarring
  • Outpatient procedure: patients can usually go home the same day as the surgery
  • Sustained mobility: the procedure maintains the natural motion of the spine, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues
  • Quicker recovery time: patients can expect to move easily after about two to four weeks and recover completely in eight to twelve weeks.

Who is A Good Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

If your symptoms are severe and back pain, discomfort, and limited mobility are affecting your quality of life, you may want to look at a microdiscectomy. Your surgeon will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your back condition to determine if you could benefit from the procedure. Specifically, surgeons consider you a good candidate for the procedure if:

  • Nonsurgical, conservative treatments like physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, or injected steroids haven’t provided adequate pain relief.
  • You have problems with walking and performing other daily tasks.
  • In severe cases, you are unable to control your bladder or bowels.

Post-Surgery Recovery

Recovery times after a microdiscectomy can vary from patient-to-patient but generally patients get around and move easily after about two to four weeks and are completely recovered in about eight to twelve weeks. Your doctor may advise you to work with a physiotherapist to strengthen the spine muscles and learn how to lift, twist, and bend so you don’t put too much strain on your back.

Long-Term Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

The ultimate goal of microdiscectomy is to deliver longer benefits including:

  • Pain management: The surgery seeks to provide lasting relief from hip, leg, and foot pain and numbness and tingling related to pinched nerves.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Patients who follow their surgeon’s personalized recovery plan experience increased mobility and a quick return to their daily activities.

As a key member of EmergeOrtho’s Back, Neck & Spine team in the Blue Ridge Region, Dr. Lindsay has the expertise, credentials, and proven track record to ensure that his patients suffering from debilitating back pain get the relief they need. To learn more about microdiscectomies and Dr. Lindsay request a consultation here.