Lumbar Disc Herniation
Disc herniation is also called disc rupture or slipped disc. Disc herniation occurs when the tough, outer rim of the disc develops a tear, allowing the soft, central part to squeeze out and enter the canal that contains the nerves that supply the legs. Symptoms of disc herniation are pain running down the leg (sciatica) with or without pain in the low back. Sometimes weakness and numbness of the leg or foot may also be present. Sciatica usually starts fairly suddenly and can be severe, but in the majority of people symptoms resolve over a few weeks with a combination of reduced activity, physiotherapy and medications.
Surgery is reserved for unrelenting pain or when severe muscle weakness is progressing. In most cases, the operation for disc herniation is discectomy, which is performed through a small incision (about 3cm) in the middle of the back. There is minimal removal of normal tissue in order to reach the ruptured part of the disc, which is simply plucked out from underneath the affected nerve. The intact part of the disc is left undisturbed. People having a discectomy often return home after one to two nights in hospital.