Surgery can help reduce the effects of lumbar radiculopathy by freeing the affected pinched nerve from pressure, which minimizes or eliminates the weakness, numbness and pain associated with this condition, explains Healthline. Doctors generally recommend surgery if more conservative treatments do not work or multiple nerves are affected.
During lumbar radiculopathy surgery, doctors remove the compression from the nerve by performing a discectomy or a laminectomy, according to MedicineNet. During a discectomy, doctors remove the part of the herniated disc compressing the nerve. During a laminectomy, surgeons remove a portion of the bone covering the nerve to give it additional space.
Surgery is usually a last resort when treating lumbar radiculopathy as most patients find relief using more conservative treatments, states MedicineNet. Some conservative treatments include getting chiropractic readjustments, undergoing physical therapy or using anti-inflammatory medications. In more serious cases, steroid injections can be used to quickly reduce inflammation and decrease symptoms, or patients can receive electric nerve stimulation to help minimize pain, notes Drugs.com.
Doctors generally recommend surgery if patients do not respond to conservative treatments within six to 12 weeks, explains Healthline. Patients should also be aware of the risks associated with lumbar radiculopathy surgery, which include bladder or spinal infection, additional nerve or spinal cord damage, persistent pain or, in rare cases, paralysis, according to Drugs.com.