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Injuries and degeneration caused by age can lead to a number of back conditions which compress or pinch a nerve in the spine. The most common are a herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis (forward displacement of a disc). The symptoms of these conditions can be very debilitating and include lower back pain and sciatica, as well as weakness and numbness. Although there are medications which can aid symptoms, surgery is often the only option which will significantly improve pain for some patients.
Traditionally a laminectomy was a surgical procedure used to decompress nerves in the spine. Although it is still performed, lumbar microsurgery is seen as an effective alternative by some. In lumbar microsurgery a special microscope is used which allows the surgeon to clearly see the nerve. Therefore only a small incision is needed, unlike in a laminectomy when a large amount of muscle and ligaments are removed in order to get to the affected disc. In lumbar microsurgery limited disruption is caused to the spinal cord as it is moved carefully to one side while the damaged material is removed and is then returned to its normal position once the nerve is decompressed. The disc is also left intact which helps to ensure a quick recovery time.
After the procedure it is normal to experience some discomfort for a short period of time. Many patients report fantastic results after lumbar microscopy, with most or all of the nerve-related pain alleviated.
This page is intended for the purposes of information only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.