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What Makes Someone a Good Candidate for a Microdiscectomy?


Spinal discs are designed to be durable, but these spongy spinal features sometimes irritate nearby nerves and contribute to noticeable discomfort. While there are many nonsurgical ways to treat disc-related pain, surgery is sometimes the best option. To give you a better idea of whether this may be the case for you, here's a closer look at who's generally considered a suitable candidate for discectomy surgery.

Patients with Severe Pain & Discomfort

A microdiscectomy is often discussed if the resulting pain and discomfort are significant and impacting quality of life. How this applies to you depends on what activities and actions you can no longer comfortably do on a daily basis. If severe disc pain is involved, this list may include:

• An inability to sleep well
• Not being able to perform work-related tasks
• An inability to do daily tasks like cooking, dressing, and bathing comfortably
• Being unable to participate in sports or similar activities

Spinal Disc Patients with Chronic Discomfort

Generally, surgery is more likely to be recommended if your injury is sudden and acute, or if your pain has reached a point where it's considered chronic. Chronic pain is typically defined as pain and related symptoms lasting for six months or longer, according to
Cleveland Clinic.

People Not Responding Well to Nonsurgical Treatments

Physical therapy, steroid injections, therapeutic exercises, and other conservative treatments are often recommended first for anyone with nonurgent spinal disc issues. However, a
discectomy can be worth considering if you're not responding well to any of the nonsurgical remedies you've been trying.

Patients Concerned about Reliance on Medication

It's not unusual for disc pain to be managed to some extent with pain medication. The potential problem is an ongoing reliance on these medications, which could contribute to entirely new concerns. If you feel like you may be relying too much on pain meds, talk to your doctor or a spine surgeon about discectomy possibilities.

People with a More Active Lifestyle

How well you consider your disc-related symptoms managed depends on your lifestyle. If you're more active, a microdiscectomy may be more beneficial than if you’re just looking to get through your day without significant discomfort. If you’re normally more active, it may be difficult to reach a point where nerve irritation is under control enough to benefit you without
herniated disc surgery.

Patients in Generally Good Health

Also with discectomy surgery, patients are typically considered suitable candidates if they're in generally good health outside their disc-related issues. The reason is because of the added risks associated with underlying health issues, such as chronic high blood pressure and diabetes. This doesn't necessarily mean a discectomy isn't possible if you have other health issues. It just means everyone involved needs to be aware of the potential risks so proper precautions can be taken.

Anyone with Life-Threatening Symptoms

Lastly, a suitable candidate for microdiscectomy surgery is someone experiencing a loss of bowel and/or bladder control and similar symptoms. These are potentially life-threatening issues that can occur if nerves responsible for these actions are compressed or irritated. In this instance, pressure on the nerve needs to be relieved as soon as possible.

If you have a herniated disc that isn't responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be the best option. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients didn’t undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and doesn’t require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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