What is the reason for having lumbar microdiscectomy (LMD) surgery?

Dr. Don Y. Park, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Lumbar microdiscectomy (LMD) surgery is done when people have a disc herniation in the lumbar spine and disc material herniates out of the contained space, compressing spinal nerves and causing characteristic pain. Classically, people present with back pain that worsens with acute buttock pain and pain down the leg with associated numbness and tingling in the characteristic pattern that's associated with the nerve that's being compressed. Most people do improve with nonoperative treatment. However, if surgery is necessary if the person fails nonoperative treatment, then surgery would be quite successful.

The goal of surgery is to remove loose disc fragments that are compressing the nerves, and decompress the nerve that is causing symptoms.

People typically undergo lumbar microdiscectomy (LMD) when they are having chronic disc herniation that has failed conservative, nonsurgical treatment, meaning physical therapy and typical pain medications. Patients may also benefit from surgery if findings indicate that there is nerve damage present, or if severe pain is present. LMD is used to try to limit or prevent progression of neurological damage due to disc herniation, and to help control pain.

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Lumbar microdiscectomy (LMD) is a procedure to remove diseased or damaged disk material away from spinal nerves. Spinal disks are made of soft material that cushions the vertebrae. Sometimes the disks can bulge or move out of place and push against spinal nerves. This condition is called a disk herniation. (It can also be called a disk bulge, protrusion or slipped disk.) A disk herniation can cause severe pain in your legs. This pain is called sciatica or radiculopathy.

The goal of lumbar microdiscectomy (LMD) surgery is to remove the abnormal disk material and take the pressure off the nerves. When the pressure goes away, the nerve pain almost always improves.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.