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Post Discectomy sciatic nerve pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 51,465
I finally caved and had back surgery on 29 Jan. 2009. I had a double discectomy L4/L5 and L5/S1. A month and a half after the surgery I was having more sciatic pain than I did pre-surgery. Post surgical MRI showed additional herniation of the L4/L5 my surgeon does not agree with the MRI report and claims what is seen is mainly scar tissue (possibly some disc material -- but not re-herniation). I have had steriod injections into the L/4 and L5 and the L/5 S/1. Most recently I have had a nerve root block of the S/1. I am miserable and can't walk any real distance and have not returned to work full-time since. Going weeks between different proceedures is NOT helping my situation. I'm a 48 year old male and otherwise healthy. I'm (I was) a runner and have not been able to run since Dec. 09. Has anyone else had these results post surgery? I need to get back to normal life and don't know if I should press for another surgical proceedure. Thanks
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Comments

  • Yes, very similar. I am a 42 year old male. Healthy, and also a runner. Had a very large L5 - S1 herniation exactly a year ago. Tried PT, which made it much worse much faster. Pain level about a 9. Got the ESI's, total of four of them. They helped quite a bit for a few months and got the pain level down to about a 3. But that was as good as it got and then it started to creep back up again. They said that it would be bad to continue to get more shots and recommended a microdiscectomy. I had a Mylogram first which confirmed this. Had the surgury on October 15th, 2008. Pretty easy surgery. I was walking 2-3 miles per day (exactly as they instructed) starting the after the surgery. About 80% of the hip, hamstring, and calf pain was gone immediately. The sleeping/numb/needles in the foot were gone too. Exactly 6 weeks later the hip and calf pain came back pretty bad almost overnight, to about a 5 level. I was terrified that it had re-ruptured and pushed for a new MRI. My surgeon told me that it was not re-ruptured but quite a bit of scar tissue had formed. He gave me a selective nerve root block on the S1 nerve the next day. This was very, very unpleasant, but a few days later my pain was back down to a 2. It has now been 75 days since the selective nerve root block and my pain level might be around 1.5 or so. I am walking an hour a day and doing a little eliptical. I had another appointment with my surgeon yesterday and he said that I could start light jogging again since it has been 6 months since the surgery. I am still afraid but hoping for the best. My surgeon says that scar tissue schrinks pretty easily with a cortizone/steriod shot and will stop growing eventually. I am starting to beleive that the more active I am the less the scar tissue can adhere to and press on the S1 nerve. Good luck.
  • Welcome!

    I understand your frustration because I had pain after my first microdiscectomy. And like you, I had another MRI with contrast (meaning dye) this time to get better images of the disc. My herniation was at L5S1.

    Unfortunately, the MRI with contrast showed re-herniation and I proceeded with the 2nd surgery. It has been a little over two weeks since the last surgery, and I feel great. I don't think I'll run again because the high-impact exercise really tip the scale for the worse on the bad disc.

    I have heard that scar tissue can cause pain if they are pressing on your nerve. I would get a second opinion before getting the 2nd surgery. You'll have to request for your medical records in order to see a different doctor(s).

    Good luck!
  • Many people have had the same results after a spinal surgery, unfortunately.

    I also would get at least one other opinion from a specialist in a different, unassociated practice. The problem with scar tissue is that a second surgery will produce even more scar tissue, and will not necessarily take care of the pain. You can learn about it here:

    http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/scar-tissue-and-pain-after-back-surgery

    The symptoms of epidural fibrosis are almost identical to that of a herniated disk or stenosis, and at the moment, very little can be done for it. I am currently looking for answers for just this problem...and at this point, there aren't any.

    You are still early in your recovery. What did your doctor say about the results from your nerve block and ESIs?
  • Hi, I'm a long distance runner who had a large herniation at the L3-L4 region. I don't know exactly what I did to have the injury. I started with bilateral hip pain, then the pain became terrible down my right leg (groin, hip, and thigh). This started Feb. 10, 2009 and after failed conservative treatment I had a MITRE with hemilaminotomy on L3-L4 and partial L4-L5 on Mar. 25, 2009. The op went great and I was on my feet the next morning. I have been walking 2-3 miles a day and trying to be careful but now my left side is showing signs of radiculopathy! I have been advised to give up thinking about running anymore and that absolutley kills me. I have finished 2 marathons and can't stand the thought of not trying another- but now the pain is coming back and I'm wondering am I ever going to be able to carry on a 'normal' life again, much less running ever again. My next appt. is Friday so I'll guess we'll see what my doc says. Disc Herniations SUCK!!! Good luck to all...
  • I know how you feel about giving up running...I used to be very physically active (weight training) and I ran pre-surgery (not marathons like you did though :D) and I've decided I'm not going to run anymore. I morned it at first, and every now & again I'll talk to my runner friends & it makes me crave it again, but I would rather just be a walker & have a decent quality of life than to go through all this pain & suffering again. I just can't do that to myself or my family.

    I hope your Dr can give you good advice at your appointment. It's so hard to try to adapt to this new lifestyle....best wishes!
  • Disc herniations do SUCK!!! Completely, totally and without a doubt. Oh well, off to walk, but not to kayak, shoot!
  • I had L5/S1 disc removal and fusion Nov 08. Here I am over a year later and still have, basically, as much pain as ever, probably worse. I've had several nerve blocks with high freq ablation..still no luck. I was up to between 8 and 10 (10/325) Percocets per day. I’m now under the care of a long term, pain management Dr. He put me on fentnyl patches and now take only 2-3 Percocets per day. I feel like they've given up on me...I though the object was to solve the problem so the pain would go away so I would not have to be taking all these pain meds...my family is sick and tired of me being in a perco cloud or in so much pain I can’t hold my daughter....
  • You might want to post your question in a new thread. That way more people will see it, and will see that you are a new member. You might want to put it on the Back Surgery and Neck Surgery section as many people can relate to what you are experiencing.

    You'll notice that the post before your question was written in May...so not too many people are looking at this thread any longer....
  • I am a 17 year old male, and I had a microdiscectomy on my L5 S1. It has been 11 days now since surgery and still have extreme leg pain. Previous to my surgery, I had been dealing with it for an entire year after 2 epidurals and PT did nothing for me. I felt like giving up because I could barely make it until the end of day. Before I was injured I was a good baseball and football player, and now it's my senior year with no sports at all. I am just scared that if this leg pain does not go away that I may never have my life back.
  • Hi tooyoungforthis. I am sorry that you too did not get the relief that was expected. When MDs work, they generally work from day one or are good for a while then have a reherniation.

    I suggest that you record your pain in a pain journal. Discuss all your symptoms and show the journal to your surgeon. Ask what is causing the pain. The journal will explain where pain is, what it feels like (tingles, burning, aching, stabbing, etc), pain rating, what you were doing before hand, what medications you were on, etc. so surgeon can see its real and circumstances around the initiating.

    There are numerous posts with more comments on exactly this scenario. Use search function.

    I believe that there is statistic of about 14% of low BMI patients that have a MD re herniate within the first three months of the MD.

    You may wish to "create a forum post", so you don't get lost in this old thread and make a thread/post unique to you and your problem.

    Another thought, - is this the same pre surgery sciatic pain or is this the 'normal' post surgery nerve regeneration pain? I guess that should be established first.

  • Thank you for commenting back, I did not realize this forum was so old. I have progressed slowly in the days since I posted, but the pain is still very much there. I have noticed that I can stand and walk with little to no pain, which killed me before surgery. I went to my follow up appt yesterday and I did not talk to my surgeon, just an assistant that gave me paperwork for PT so I didn't have the chance to ask any of the questions I had planned to. I will take your advice to write down my pain on a day to day basis, and create my own forum as well so that I can receive some more info that was as helpful as yours. Thanks again, God bless.
  • Hi dave.
    Not sure if I am using this forum properly., but if you get this. I would like to hear how you are now. I am 3 weeks post op… sciatica still here. Not as severe though which I am so grateful. Thank you

    Tess
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,932
    This is a very old post, so to be seen and receive more replies it is better to either find your original post and update it or create a new post. I will send a private message with some useful links to help you .

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

  • edited 08/08/2013 - 10:48 AM
    Hi, I had a double discectomy 4 months ago. I now struggle to get out of bed in the mornings due to pain, which I never had before. I am finding it difficult to walk more than 100 yards without starting to limp. And to top it all off my dreaded sciatica has now come back.
    Apparently I am a cauda equina sufferer, on my doctors notes.
    Has anyone else had any of these symptoms after discectomy ?
    I am hoping to return to work at the beginning of September.
    Any info post discectomy, would be appreciated.

    Teresa
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,374
    edited 08/08/2013 - 1:30 PM

    I have had two fusions so a different experience from a discectomy. However I think if I was you I would get back in touch with your surgeon.

    If your surgery was 4 months ago, I believe that you shouldn't be struggling to get out of bed because of pain and shouldn't be unable to walk more than 100 yards without limping.

    It sounds like you have something going on that needs to be investigated.
    Please come back and let us know how you get on.

    Can I suggest that if you write any more posts, that you start a new thread as this one is old. People will be more likely to read and respond to a new thread. :-)


  • Tess48 said:
    Hi dave.
    Not sure if I am using this forum properly., but if you get this. I would like to hear how you are now. I am 3 weeks post op… sciatica still here. Not as severe though which I am so grateful. Thank you

    Tess
    Just curious how you feel now 4 months later?
  • Tooyoungforthis said:
    I am a 17 year old male, and I had a microdiscectomy on my L5 S1. It has been 11 days now since surgery and still have extreme leg pain. Previous to my surgery, I had been dealing with it for an entire year after 2 epidurals and PT did nothing for me. I felt like giving up because I could barely make it until the end of day. Before I was injured I was a good baseball and football player, and now it's my senior year with no sports at all. I am just scared that if this leg pain does not go away that I may never have my life back.
    How are you feeling now? Have you had to resort to other treatments?
  • Hi! I need MRI report advice. My daughter had laser surgery almost 1 year ago and now having same problems and we dont see the doctor for another week and im gonna go crazy worrying about it. The MRI says L4-5 Focal superior endplate depression L5 vertebral body, demonstrating T2 high signal, probable reactive Schmorl's node. Broad-based, diffuse posterior disc bulge producing minimal ventral impingement of thecal sac.
    L5-S1 Mild disc height loss with broad-based, diffuse posterior disc bulge,
    Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks
    DaveFusion said:
    Hi tooyoungforthis. I am sorry that you too did not get the relief that was expected. When MDs work, they generally work from day one or are good for a while then have a reherniation.

    I suggest that you record your pain in a pain journal. Discuss all your symptoms and show the journal to your surgeon. Ask what is causing the pain. The journal will explain where pain is, what it feels like (tingles, burning, aching, stabbing, etc), pain rating, what you were doing before hand, what medications you were on, etc. so surgeon can see its real and circumstances around the initiating.

    There are numerous posts with more comments on exactly this scenario. Use search function.

    I believe that there is statistic of about 14% of low BMI patients that have a MD re herniate within the first three months of the MD.

    You may wish to "create a forum post", so you don't get lost in this old thread and make a thread/post unique to you and your problem.

    Another thought, - is this the same pre surgery sciatic pain or is this the 'normal' post surgery nerve regeneration pain? I guess that should be established first.
  • My nerve pain has never really subsided, it's now been almost a year and not a day goes by that I don't experience back pain/nerve pain. However, not everyone's pain is as persistent as mine has been. I don't believe there is any other treatments that I could undergo that will actually help me anymore because I have done just about everything. I hope you have better results than I have.

    How are you feeling now? Have you had to resort to other treatments?
  • Unfortunately, no one here is qualified to give you an interpretation of your daughter's MRI report. That should come only from whomever ordered the MRI since they use the images and the information from the report to base their treatment options on.
    When are you both scheduled to see the surgeon or physician who ordered the test?
  • DNDDN Posts: 2
    edited 04/12/2014 - 7:02 PM
    This comment is generally for people experiencing sciatica soon after surgery. I blew the disc at S1-L5 about three years ago and had surgery. I blew L4-L5 recently and am 5 weeks post surgery. After the first surgery, my sciatica and numbness never returned. However, after this second surgery my deep hip pain and numbness returned about 5-7 days post surgery. I thought for sure I had re-ruptured and was extremely depressed and distraught. After a week I was feeling pretty good so I did some light exercising (I'm a bit of a fitness nut) against doctors orders. The pain started after that. Now it's 4 weeks later and the pain is almost completely gone. I think there was inflammation and nerve damage causing the pain, probably exacerbated by being too active. My advice is to take ibuprofen, ice frequently, rest a lot (laying down), walk as directed, and follow the doctors orders. It takes time. My sympathy to all of you who have had it harder than I have. Good luck.
  • I'm hoping this thread is not too old to post in as the subject is most appropriate for me. I am a new member & so grateful for this forum - I have learned so much thanks to all you lovely people!

    I had a microdiscectomy & laminectomy on 6/17/14 - severe radicular pain - no back pain at all. I have no idea how I did this other than a brutal fall on steps 4 yrs. ago where I knocked the wind out of myself. At that time an xray was done only showing degenerative disc disease.

    Right after the operation, my sciatica was completely gone! I experienced only surgical pain which I would take ANY DAY over sciatica. 2 weeks and 4 days post surgery I awoke crying to that familiar sciatic pain. I am so frustrated because my surgeon refuses to do an MRI until 3 months post surgery saying "it is a mess in there" He also says I didn't re-herniate & I've just "overdone it". I'm not convinced unless I can see that MRI as objective "proof" - I'm still on pain meds, nerontin & flexiril for the pain which is contant & sometimes peaks.

    I've been out of work since June 9th - a week prior to my surgery as I just couldn't work & deal with the pain anymore. I'm due to go back to work Aug 18th & terrified that I won't be able to make it through a f/t work day - I just want to know the objective truth of what's going on in there - do others have this issue also? Why are dr's so adamant about waiting the 3 months to do an MRI? My thought is, if I DID re-herniate, I'd like to fix it now while I'm still out of work vs. returning, being miserable, and having to stay home waiting for the 3 month time-frame to arrive & then tackling the cause of the sciatica. I def. cannot afford to stay out of my F/T job longer than I have been - luckily my husband has been doing double shifts almost every day to make up $$$$$ for my lack - but it is getting to him physically & mentally.

    Anyone that can shed light on the 3 month MRI rule post-surgery I would love your advice, input & thoughts! Thanks so much in advance!
  • It is my understanding that the doctors like to wait on the MRI's is to allow time for healing to the surgical site. The amount of swelling and inflammation makes it difficult to accurately tell what is going on. It is very frustrating to feel better after surgery and then have then have the pain return. I found walking to be a great aid to my pain and tried to space it out each day. Best wishes to you in continued healing.
  • I had a microdiscectomy in Jan this year & 3 1/2 weeks out felt the familiar sciatic pain. I mentioned this to my surgeon at my follow up 5 weeks post op & he sent me off for a MRI which showed another prolapse. I had a re-do discectomy in March & in the same timeframe again had the sciatic pain return. My surgeon was hesitant to send me off for another MRI but did anyway & the pics showed swelling & scar tissue & he was basically happy & wanted to see me in another 6 weeks. I've since had another MRI showing further prolapse (I'm having a tlif next week). I think in hindsight I had the MRI too quickly after my second surgery & could have saved myself the $350. I also felt the surgeon didn't take my concerns on board. My physio has told me surgeons like to wait for swelling to subside to gain a better picture of what's going on. Hang in there, I know it's frustrating.
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
  • David1973DDavid1973 Singapore Posts: 1
    I had L5/S1 microdiscectomy in 2013 (40yo). My L4/L5 had also degenerated (20yo). Pain was so bad I could not stand unsupported for more than a minute. I was trying out PT - made my way around putting my weight on a walking stick. It was so bad I resorted to surgery. I recall the injury started with a pop in the middle of a yoga class. Pain then was about a 5.5, but I sort of ignored it and it progressively got worse until one day I had to pick up my collie dog.

    Lesson: Don't ignore pain.

    Post surgery, I took less than 4 weeks to recover to a state where I can go about most daily activities except intense workouts, jogging and intermediate yoga level. I did swim on alternate days. Over the next 6 months, I worked with a good PT/strength coach (I still do till this day) to enhance core and glutes. I was back on the mat by month 4 but doing basic yoga, though gradually pushing the limits everyday. Then I started going to the gym for TRX (good traction and core strengthening) and gradually moved on to HIIT as well.

    Lesson: My body was no longer the same post surgery - landing heavily on foot often caused a jarring lumbar pain; could not go as deep into some yoga back bends like the Wild Thing transition to Wheel Pose.

    Lesson: Did not let that get me down and I continued to carefully work on strengthening my body.

    The work I did on my body helped me find stability in yoga inversions. I was handstanding like never before. So I can't backbend as well, but now I could invert with ease and control. Newfound confidence!

    Throughout 2014/15, my strength and endurance increased. Flexibility still meh.

    January 2016 - slip fall walking with wet feet. Non immediate pain. 2 days later, butt was sore. Skipped HIIT class but thought I was being clever by going low weight high reps of wood chopper.

    Lesson: Don't ignore pain. Don't forget lessons. Don't twist if you have a disc injury.

    Butt pain progressed to sciatica of 5.5 - managed to make 2 business trips still. Self diagnosed it as piriformis syndrome as I'd mistakenly assumed I had no more pulposa to herniate. Wasted loads of cash on alternative treatments. Finally saw my ortho as pain kept me from proper workout and yoga. MRI showed reherniation. I asked Doc how that could be since pain merely 5.5. He said he had done a laminectomy the first surgery, so there's more space near the nerve root. But surgery still recommended.

    March 2016 - 2nd discsectomy. Road to recovery seems faster, possibly because my core is actually stronger than I was at 40, plus I have an idea of the lay of the land. Back at gym and yoga by week 4, but just low impact cardio and weight lifting (no twist). 
  • MohamedAissetMMohamedAisset Pennsylvania Posts: 1
    I'm 18 years old and I'm in the same boat I just had surgery 5 days ago and my leg pain is kinda still here I can still kinda feel it which scares the hell out of me. I used to be so good at soccer now I can barely play 
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