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Question on lumbar microdiscectomy and spinal decompression

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a lumbar microdiscectomy 7 days ago. I have had the text book symptoms of pain down my right leg to my calf, shooting pain in thigh and buttocks, etc.

I have been fighting with it since October of 08 and thought it was everything other than my back. Tried sports massage, reflexology, etc. I refused to believe it was my back.

Finally went to local specialist and had an MRI, CatScan, Xrays, etc and that I have a ruptured L4-L5 disc.

Here's a quick snapshot of what was on the report they gave to me. I am the patient that has to be shown everything on the picture on the wall, so here's what was on the papers.

- Right paracentral focal disc bulge L4-L5 level contributes to some retrodiscal lateral recess narrowing
- Mild central canal stenosis is present
- Bilateral L5 isthmic spondylolysis and grade 1 anterolisthesis
- No promintent central canal stenosis
- Some foarminal narrowing is present

My surgery was extremely quick. I am guessing around 10 seconds. There was a guy giving me a shot in my IV and then I was in the recovery room ;)

The doctor said things went really well, and the rupture was much larger than he anticipated or expected.

I took this as good news as there was definitely a reason for the pain, etc.

So ... long rant done, few questions, the first being the one that scares me the most.

I don't think I have had any of the symptoms in my right leg since the surgery. However, starting two nights ago, yesterday morning my left leg experienced the exact same symptoms from my buttocks to my ankle.

Is there a chance I ruptured the disc on the opposite side post surgery? I read that there are some concerns of re-damaging close after surgery. I have tried to follow the "rules" as much as possible, but I know I have twisted and turned and felt pain and stopped.

Also, the doctor mentioned pre-surgery about the fractures (I can't remember if that is stenosis or spondylolysis) and said some people opt to go ahead with spinal fusion at the time of the microdiscectomy, however, he felt now was not the time.

The way I understood it was eventually you will need it. So ... double question. If I did rupture the disc or do damage on the left side and they have to go back in, do I want to pursue a spinal fusion?

I am 33 and I believe this all stems from a really bad car crash I had when I was 20.

Thanks and I appreciate everyone's advice. I apologize for the lengthy post. Seems the pain medicine makes me a chatty cathy.




  • Well, I don't know if it's actually more damage to the disc, but it sounds as though (and I must state that I'm not a medical professional here) like your disc was more squished than they thought to begin with. The third thing on your report says you have spondy and listhesis, which basically means your bones have slid a bit out of place, because the disc isn't there cushioning things as normal. I know I had a micro and then six months later my bones had moved enough to cause more pinching and a lot more pain. Since you are recently out of surgery, it could be just inflammation from the procedure itself and then perhaps a bit more twisting and moving than you should have done. Give it some time and see how it goes. You may be fine, but be careful.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • is breathe...

    There are so many things that may or may not be going on in there, just slow down a minute and breathe. Try not to panic, as stress makes any pain you have worse.

    You had surgery, lots of things were "manipulated" in your back which causes a lot of post-op inflammation and irritation. Things that you didn't even know you had start hurting...

    The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is try to calm down, rest, don't twist, bend, or lift anything, and call your doctor as soon as possible. It might be nothing, but there are no guarantees. Its always better to err on the side of caution.

    I hope you get some good answers and are feeling better soon. Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.

    By the way, my surgery took about 10 seconds too. :))(
  • From my experience of asking and reading other posts, pain after microdiscectomy is not uncommon. My leg pain returned 10 days postOp and was put on second round of oral steroids. The steroids has helped, but I did get another MRI with contrast to rule out reherniation.

    Good luck! Remember the success rate is 90-95%. So the odds are on your side. Probably your nerve is just very inflamed. Call you doctor tomorrow morning! My doctor's nurse instructed me to call them any time if I had questions or concerns.
  • I guess I am just so jazzed about the pain being gone on the side that had problems and then showing up on the other side has got me all scared.

    I am also wondering why I did not push for the fusion, since I think I would be better off with putting everything in one surgery.

    Here is the dum-dum question of the day. With the bones sliding out of place, what are the symptoms? What should I be watching for? I obviously know what the pressure on the nerve feels like and the sciatica. Just what the heck does slipping feel like? Is that all lower back pain, or is that in the leg, etc. etc.

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