The goal of surgery includes:
- Reduction of leg pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness
- Reduction of back pain
- Stabilization of an unstable spine
- Medication reduction
- Prevention of deterioration
- Improved lower back and leg function
- Improved work and recreational capacity
- Improved quality of life
Generally, the symptom that improves the most reliably after surgery is leg pain. Back pain also often improves, but occasionally can be worse. The next symptom to improve is usually weakness. Your strength may not return completely back to normal, however. Improvement in strength generally occurs over weeks and months. Numbness or pins and needles may or may not improve with surgery, due to the fact that the nerve fibers transmitting sensation are thinner and more vulnerable to pressure (they are more easily permanently damaged than the other nerve fibers). Numbness can take up to 12 months to improve if it does so.
The chance of obtaining a significant benefit from surgery depends upon a wide variety of factors. Your neurosurgeon will give you an indication of the likelihood of success in your specific case.