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Surgery for Lumbar Disc Herniation

Chris Russo May 1, 2012

A lumbar disc herniation can be a very painful condition.  Sometimes this is a called a slipped or ruptured disc.  Physicians oftentimes refer to a so-called herniation as either a disc protrusion (disc bulge) or an extrusion (i.e. when the disc material is ruptured or broken).  Notwithstanding the terminology, this condition affects a relatively high percentage of the population and is a common cause of low back pain and sciatica.  While most people see significant improvement within a few months after receiving conservative treatment therapies such as physical therapy or chiropractic maneuvers, those that do not experience improvement may need surgery.  Lumbar surgeries are typically performed by either a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic spine surgeon.

The lumbar spine is made of a five vertebrae (L1 through L5).  The bottom of the spine is at L5-S1.  In between these vertebral levels, there are soft tissue discs that enable flexibility along with several other structures the allow bodily function.  Perhaps the most important function of the spine is to protect the spinal cord which carries the electrical nerve messages to the muscles and organs of the body.  A disc begins the so-called herniation process when its soft tissues become damaged to either wear and tear or a sudden traumatic injury such as a car accident.  This causes the jelly-like inside of the disc to either protrude (bulge) in to other areas or to escape altogether (extrusion).  Once this occurs, the disc no longer functions as the cushion that is was intended to be and pain is the result.  If your condition impinges or puts any pressure on the spinal cord, then you may have urgent condition that requires timely surgical intervention to avoid permanent paralysis.  Normally, a neurological evaluation, straight leg test, and MRI or CT imaging is required to diagnose a lumbar disc herniation.  Surgeries to treat this condition include a diskectomy, which is where the protruding disc is cut or shaved to relieve impingement, as well as a fusion, which is where the bones are permanently immobilized together (fused) by metal hardware.  Overall, the diagnosis and treatment of lumbar disc herniations is a complicated process that you should seek professional help for.

If you have been diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation or have been recommended for surgery, you might consider contacting a Florida medical malpractice lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your injury and/or whether the treatment that you received was medically appropriate.

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