A study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) found that patients with herniated lumbar disc symptoms were significantly worse off if the patients had symptoms for more than six months prior to treatment, compared to those who had symptoms for six months or less. Symptoms included pain, loss of function, loss of mobility and negative general health.

Lumbar disc herniation is a condition in which all or part of the jelly-like material in the center of a disc between two vertebrae in the lower back is forced through the weakened outer wall of the disc. When the disc herniates it invariably puts pressure on a nerve root causing numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness in one or both legs. One of the most common and debilitating conditions of the spine, symptomatic lumbar disc herniation affects 2 percent of the population, or 1.6 million people, at some point in their lives, most often starting in people in their 30s and 40s.
“Patients often ask their physicians whether the duration of their symptoms will affect their potential for a full recovery, and the goal of our study was to address this question,” said Orthopaedic surgeon Jeffrey A. Rihn, MD, one of the study’s authors. He added, “The bottom line is patients who seek treatment, whether it is surgical or non-surgical, during the first six months of symptoms will respond better to treatment. We also learned that surgery offers advantages over non-surgical treatment regardless of the duration of symptoms.”

The study authors observed 1,192 patients enrolled in the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT), which was conducted at 13 multidisciplinary spinal practices in 11 states. At all follow-up intervals patients who sought surgical treatment within six months of the onset of symptoms reported better outcomes than those who waited more than six months. These findings fly in the face of the conventional wisdom which had been that one should abide with herniated disc symptoms for a long time before seeking a surgical solution. The study authors also found that surgical treatment was significantly more effective than non-operative treatment.

Several studies conducted over the past 30 years have demonstrated the effectiveness of lumbar discectomy. Lumbar discectomy involves the removal of the herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal canal.

The Bonati Spine Institute pioneered the development of minimally invasive spine surgeries such as the Bonati Lumbar Discectomy. This procedure is performed as outpatient surgery, so there is no need for costly overnight hospitalization. The herniated disc is treated with patented instruments inserted into an incision about the circumference of a dime. The surgery has a documented success rate of over 98.75% and patients are able to begin walking normally minutes after surgery.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bonati Spine Institute’s over 30 year record of unmatched success you can call us at 855-267-0482 or click here if you would like a free review of your MRI.