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to discectomy or not to discectomy

ibivyiibivy Posts: 28
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone. I have back pain (x multiple years) and new leg numbness/muscular atrophy (x 5 months).

I have a discectomy scheduled in about a month. I would LOVE to hear your experiences- good, bad, neutral... Anything at all.



  • Hi, Ibivy!

    Well, I'm learning that this situation is certainly different for everyone, but my goodness I couldn't be happier with the L5-S1 micro-laminectomy & discectomy I had a week ago yesterday. My neurosurgeon came very highly recommended by my general physician and physical therapist. Everything went beautifully with the surgery itself (the sciatic pain is gone), and I couldn't be more pleased with my recovery. I can actually stand up straight and walk fairly normally now (you'll see another post in which I describe some residual, albeit minor, issues).

    Just where in your back is your problem?
  • I echo the other posters thoughts. I had mine June 18th and couldn't be happier. Biggest frustration is that I feel so good I feel like I should be able to do more but can't. I was terrified going in and even cried being wheeled to the OR...I woke up joking with the recovery room nurse, switched beds with no prob and was released the next day. Things I worried about like walking, going to the bathroom myself and pain were non existent..I walked to the bathroom about 4 hours after surgery, woke up on my back, and pain hasn't been an issue even without taking meds. There is a little discomfort back there from swelling and that fact they had to drill through some bone and oh yea, the whole open spine thing...lol The pain I was in driving to the hospital for the surgery was far worse than anything I have felt since then. PS make sure you have some prunes on standby for the days following...that would probably be the worst side effect so far.
  • I had my first microdisesctomy the first week of March 09 but the disc got reherniated after bouts of hard coughing and sneezing. Later I learned that once the bulging disc is cut off, the disc is left with a hole until it heals itself (or a scar forms over the opening). Be very careful after your surgery.

    I ended up having a second microdiscectomy at the end of March 09 and I am doing very well. I still have tingling sensation but all the pain and uncomfortable sensations are slowly dissipating. After 6 weeks post Op, I started physical therapy that gave me more confidence to move and strength my core muscles.

    I am happy with the results and thankful that I had the option to have an operation to be relieve of the awful pain.
  • for those of you that have had surgery- was it back or leg pain that led to the surgery?

    Myself, it's back pain, but leg pain/tingling started about 5 months ago. So while leg issues are present, they are definitely not the main issue.
  • Hi, Ibivy.

    Originally, I had back pain. It started after I lifted a too-heavy load up some resistant stairs. That lasted a while, then the pain started to venture down my leg, eventually leading to full-blown and disabling sciatica. An MRI revealed the herniated disc was holding my sciatic hostage in a much-too-claustrophobic space (i.e., the nerve was "squashed," according to my neurosurgeon post surgery).

    Hope this addresses your question! How are you??
  • Short-term post-operative diskectomy results are usually good but the long-term outlook is highly mixed. The reason is this. Diskectomies, regardless of whether done by laser, scope or scalpel, make the disc susceptible to several long-term issues including rapidly progressing degenerative disc disease, scaring which can cause nerve irritation and compression, and several other issues. Make sure you seek out expert therapists and chiropractors before deciding to go under the knife. If the therapist you seek just finished shoulder therapy before seeing you, find another therapist. You need a spine expert. Just as if your surgeon did a shoulder surgery just before your spine surgery, you are using the wrong surgeon. Make sure you are taking advantage of a solid at-home therapy regimen. www.backandneckpainremedy.com has a cheap dvd which can help you. Best of luck!!
  • In '06 I had a md on L4-L5.
    It was mostly all back pain with some leg pain. My right calf shrank an inch and a half. (I failed to notice it)
    Am very glad I did the surgery. No way in heck was I ever going to get by without it. (I was hunched over and could not stand up or walk around without massive stabbing pain)

    My surgery was done thru a 3 cm incision and the surgeon went thru the foramin with endoscopic instruments. No bone was removed, no ligaments were cut. Outpatient procedure done in an afternoon.
    Very cool medical advancements.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Like Paul, I felt like I had no choice but go through the surgery. I tried everything because I know back surgeries should be your last resort. I ended up having microdiscectomy after not being able to walk longer than 10 min., sitting, socializing, eating, working.....

    well...I guess you get my drift
  • Thanks, everyone.

    I greatly appreciate the comments regarding being cautious, as I believe that surgery should be taken very, very seriously.

    Myself, I had gotten to that point. I did research the best surgeons in the state, researched the hell out of microdiscectomies and all other things, and came to the decision that, even if I need a fusion in the future (which is possible, I've 3 degenerative discs, arthritis, tons of other things going on...), not living because of pain at this point in my life is not worth it. So, I had a microdiscectomy yesterday, and am typing this on medication and laying on my bed. It's going to be a long road, I know, and there isn't a magic bullet for my condition... but hopefully I've granted my life a little bit more of living time.

  • I am 5 weeks post op today and doing good. Went back to work Monday and it's been much different, got really tired and could tell I was using back muscles sitting at my desk that I had not while home. I was shocked that I could be walking as much as I have and yet a day at the desk wiped me out and gave me some pain. It's still 100x better than what I had before and each day has gotten better and given me more strength. Don't be scared if you're feeling absolutely wonderful and no pain for a couple of weeks and then you have twinges of your former leg/back pain...I freaked until I found out that could happen for a while due to the nerve damage, it comes and goes every once in a while but nothing major. I go on the 3rdfor my 2nd follow up and hope to start PT after that, I'm both excited and terrified of it but I know I have to get these core muscles strenthened. Take care and best of luck to ya!
  • So, I had a microdiscectomy yesterday, and am typing this on medication and laying on my bed. It's going to be a long road, I know, and there isn't a magic bullet for my condition... but hopefully I've granted my life a little bit more of living time.
    Welcome to this side of surgery!!

    So. What instructions has your surgeon (neuro or ortho?) given to you?

    I hope your recovery is as speedy and uneventful as mine has been.

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