Quality of Life and Lumbar Disc RemovalWhat's the best way to treat back and leg pain from a herniated disc? This question remains the topic of debate among doctors. What's the best way to find out the answer?
Researchers in Canada think it's a good idea to find out which patients get better. Doctors can use this information to help predict who should have surgery to remove the disc. To find out who gets better, the authors used surveys. The surveys were given to 82 patients with lumbar disc herniation causing back and leg pain.
The surveys measured results before the operation and six to 12 months afterwards. Questions were asked about symptoms, function, and quality of life. Overall results showed that surgery to remove a herniated disc gave the patients considerable improvement.
Most of the benefits occurred in the first six months. There wasn't much change between six months and one year. Pain and physical function were still lower than scores for healthy adults. Mental function was back to normal by six months.
Physical function after the operation was much worse some for patients. Patients who had the operation during the first three months of painful symptoms had the best results. Anyone who waited more than 12 months to have the surgery had worse physical results.
The authors conclude that quality of life improves with surgery to remove a painful disc herniation. In Canada the rate of surgery for this problem is lower than in the United States and elsewhere. The authors suggest that it's too low, and that more Canadian patients should be considered candidates for this operation sooner.
Charles Fisher, MD, MHSc, et al. Outcome Evaluation of the Operative Management of Lumbar Disc Herniation Causing Sciatica. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. April 2004. Vol. 100. No. 4. Pp. 317-324.
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