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Wondering if discectomy is the right choice l5/s1?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have had sciatic problems since 06, but in January 08 it became unbearable and my husband had to put my socks on for me. I have had 3 epidural injections since then, and they helped me a lot. They last about 6 months, and then the pain comes back. However, the pain that has come back since my last injection is spuratic and I can put on my own socks. Any type of activity that involves bending, pulling, or twisting causes a lot of pain though. I raked my yard and paid dearly for 5 days. Vacuuming even hurts. I want to be able to do my normal activities, and my neurologist told me I was a good candidate for a discectomy, but I'm wondering if it's a good choice. Has anyone else had spuratic pain down their leg that about collapses you, but other times feel fine? If so, have you had a discectomy, and would you do it again? Sick of injections because of cost and worry of long term effects.


  • well, I don't know if I would trust a neurologist's opinion since they don't do surgery. If you have a bulge that is big enough to require discectomy than see a NS or OS and get their opinion. I didn't even consider surgery until I was having constant symptoms and no longer able to do any of my regular activities. If the injections work, why mess with it?
  • Raking and vacuuming are two of the worst activities for anyone with a lower lumbar weakness. After having a discectomy, you will still want to avoid these activities, at least for a long while until you are completely healed.

    Since you have sporatic pain, it sounds like you might be able to get the disk to heal enough on its own that you won't need surgery. Have you been through a course of physical therapy and learned all the exercises that will strengthen the core muscles that support the spine? It is important to do your "back" exercises EVERY day, to use good body mechanics and good posture and to drink lots of water.

    Having a discectomy does not provide any guarantee that you will be "good as new." You will still have to be very careful and will have to take care of your back. It will not be made stronger by going through the trauma of surgery.
  • I have been through physical therapy, and it is a Neuro Surgeon, not neurologist. Sorry for the mistake. Thanks for the answers to my questions. I think your advise is great, I think I should reconsider my surgery. If I can't do the activities I want to do after the surgery, I don't know what the point of the surgery is. The spuratic pain is intense, but, maybe I should just live with it and really consider all the options. Unfortunately all the core/back exercises I have ever tried aggravate my nerve which makes me stop doing them. I was hoping if the nerve wasn't being aggravated by the disk, I'd be able to strengthen up slowly, and then do all the activities I want to do.
  • That is a possibility, and it is the HOPE of having the surgery. If you are considering surgery, do your research and be sure you are comfortable with your surgeon's qualifications. I just never want anyone to enter into surgery quickly without exploring all options and without really thinking about it. That is not to say that surgery is "bad" or that you should absolutely avoid it. I just want you and everyone else contemplating surgery to realize that it will NOT restore you to the way you were prior to injury or onset of symptoms and pain.

    You might want to get a second opinion just to be sure surgery is needed and will help your sciatic issues.

    The point of the surgery would be to take away most of the pain...and hopefully, you could go back to those activities in a more conservative way!
  • Thanks again. I will definately do more research.
  • After 4 months of PT and ESIs, I was released to resume my exercises. Unfortunately, I was not warned about avoiding exercises that require bending and twisting; my symptom returned full force.

    I agree with Gwennie that surgeries do not return the old "you".

    From personal experience, the surgeries did take away 90% of my pain but I am still nervous about the state I am in. I am 4 weeks out of 2nd microdiscectomy, and I still have mild burning pain, intermittent lower backache, and an uncomfortable tightening feeling around my calf.

    Would I do it again? Yes, because my pain was constant and took me away from enjoying my life.

    Good luck in your research!

  • Going on surgical consultations for discectomy...anyone had success with this procedure? horror stories? any advise will do...
  • Hi Chronic. I had a lami/disc at the L5-S1 on 3/2/09. I am so glad I had the surgery! I thoroughly researched my surgeon and because he spent at least 30 minutes with me during the consult, I felt pretty good about him. He has a great reputation at a high quality teaching hospital. I still have some twinges of sciatic pain now and then, but I'm back to about 90%, still working through stretching and strengthening exercises, and I don't think I'll ever really be the same as before the herniation, but I'm feeling so much better than before the surgery. Good luck with your decision.
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