Lumbar Support Advised after DiscectomyTaking out part or all of a lumbar disc increases the motion at that level. Increased motion can lead to an unstable spine. Studies show that it's important to remove as little disc material during surgery as possible in order to limit this motion.
The increase in range of motion (ROM) may not occur right away. When only part of the disc is removed, loads repeated over time may lead to increased ROM and increased instability. These are the findings of a study at the Spine Research Center at the University of Toledo.
Researchers tested 28 lumbar spines taken from cadavers. Four different amounts of disc material were taken out. The spines were then tested in six different motions. The motions were repeated over 10,000 cycles.
Doctors want to know what's the best amount of tissue to remove from a damaged disc. The results of this study show the effects of repeated loads on the spine after various amounts of disc removal. The normal spine goes through one to three million cycles each year. Changes in spine motion were seen after only 10,000 cycles. This is equal to two or three weeks of normal movement, or one day of hard work with repeated bending and lifting.
The authors suggest using some type of lumbar support after even the smallest amount of disc removal in order to protect the lower spine. Support should be used for the first few weeks after surgery.
Hiroshi Kuroki, MD, et al. Contributions of Flexion-Extension Cyclic Loads to the Lumbar Spinal Segment Stability Following Different Discectomy Procedures. In Spine. February 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 3. Pp. E39-E46.
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