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How Easily Can Another Herniation Happen Following Microdiscectomy?


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Out of more than 200,000 lower back discectomies performed in the United States each year, only 10 percent result in recurrent disc herniation. This conclusion is based on follow-up visits over the months and years after the initial procedures. Therefore, the short answer is that it is not very easy to herniate a spinal disc again after having a microdiscectomy. This article explains some of the factors that determine whether another herniation may occur post-surgery.

How Well You Follow Post-Surgery Recommendations

This is one of the main factors that determines a patient’s odds of experiencing another herniation. Typically, patients are advised to get regular exercise, watch their posture, and follow a healthy diet. Additionally, if you are not mindful of recovery recommendations and guidelines, you may be more likely to damage the same spinal disc or another one in the same general area.

How Active You Are

If you are not active enough, spine-supporting muscles can weaken over time and place more pressure on spinal discs. However, if you are excessively active and not taking precautions, such as using a lumbar support belt and resting when you feel pain, you may be more likely to have a post-surgery herniation or reherniation.

How Much Disc Material Was Removed

It is not unusual for a surgeon to remove only the disc material that is irritating a nearby nerve root. This is done to preserve spinal stability and reduce or eliminate the need for accompanying
spinal fusion surgery. However, the potential risk is that the disc may shift or become herniated again at some point after surgery.

Signs You May Have Another Herniation

It is important to know when to see your doctor or a spine specialist. Signs suggesting you may have another issue with a spinal disc herniation after having a microdiscectomy include:

• Lower back pain
• Radiating nerve pain that extends to nearby areas
• Symptoms similar to what you experienced before your microdiscectomy
• Pain that comes and goes

Preventing Another Herniation

Having another herniation at some point later on is always a possibility. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce this risk. Start by finding forms of exercise that are gentle on your spine yet still effective. For example, water-based exercises such as water aerobics and swimming provide a sufficient workout without being overly strenuous. Additional steps you can take to keep your spine and its supporting discs healthy include:

• Not wearing excessively high heels or footwear that throws off your spine’s alignment
• Lifting properly by using your knees and not your back
• Getting sufficient sleep on a supportive mattress
• Watching your posture while walking and sleeping
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes to increase circulation and keep your spinal discs healthy
• Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep your spongy spinal discs sufficiently hydrated

microdiscectomy surgery is generally a very successful procedure, patients with a larger hole in the outer ring of the disc have a significantly higher risk of reherniation following surgery. Often, the surgeon will not know the size of the hole until he or she begins surgery. A new treatment, Barricaid, which is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, was specifically designed to close the large hole often left in the spinal disc after discectomy. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. In a large-scale study, 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. 


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

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