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Discectomy - To do or not to do

Started by Bubbly1 on 02/27/2017 3:36pm

Hi - I am 54 y.o. female, lost 1.5" height due to spinal compression, so down to 5' 5", 240 lbs due to inability to exercise, to a large extent. Been hit in 4 car accidents, last was Aug 2004, and have degenerative disc disease in L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1. Have had 5 mm disc herniation at L4-5 for 16 years, since Sept 1999 accident. Have done some physical therapy and chiro, which is relieving pain, but not fixing bigger problem: the disc bulge is pressing on sciatic nerve, which gets very inflamed, then badly flares up the piriformis syndrome in my right buttock. No pain down either leg, but some tingling when piriformis acts up. Also have some scoliosis in lumbar spine, moderate to severe osteoarthritis, and spinal decompression at all three aforementioned discs.

Have previously sought to avoid surgery, but am now seriously considering Discectomy on bulging disc. I am wondering if fixing that will eliminate the pressure on the sciatic nerve that aggravates the piriformis syndrome. PT is helping, but then every day life flares it up: carrying in groceries, cleaning litter boxes, vacuuming, cleaning bathtub, etc, not to mention just plain sitting in bad chairs, which sometimes can't be avoided. I am really sick of this, and am now thinking that surgery to remove the piriformis syndrome problem might be worth the short term misery. Because of the number of discs involved, I WILL NOT have spinal decompression surgery at this time, and probably ever. I have an inversion table and PT, which seem to help.

Would welcome any thoughts or advice on the Discectomy, and any post-op recommendations for increased comfort and/or faster recovery.

Thanks much!!!!

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1 Response


Hello, Bubbly1--thanks for posting your experience and questions about discectomy.

Discectomy is a relatively straightforward spine surgery, and there's a lot of information available about this type of procedure. We did some digging on the SpineUniverse archives to find you some content that we thought might be of interest as you weigh the options in front of you. If your doctor recommends a traditional (open) discectomy, we have an article about that ( Percutaneous Discectomy ). Alternatively, your doctor may be trained in minimally invasive techniques and may want to go that route, and we have content on that, too ( What Is Microdiscectomy? ).

Like any spine surgery, discectomy isn't a quick fix and may require some physical therapy as part of your recovery. Keep us posted on how you move forward. We wish you the best of luck!