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L4 and L5S-1 micro-discectomy. :(

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm a 20 year old female with two ruptured discs.
I've had a few opinions, and all signs point to surgery.
I'm getting a Micro-doscectomy September 4th.
I'm pretty depressed because I've been unable to do anything for months now...
It just sucks.
I'm just wondering what some other experiences with this surgery was like?
Thanks so much.
<3 Megan


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I haven't had a microdiscectomy, but a good friend of mine has. Hers was a two level (don't remember which ones), but she had a very successful surgery and was out and about three days after the procedure. She had a few issues healing, like the pain of the nerves "waking up", but nothing like what she experienced beforehand.

    Good luck to you and keep us posted.
  • welcome to the board - it's a good place to be when you've got questions or just need support.

    My DH had a Micro D on 2 levels 8 years ago and is still super athletic and active - even at the old age of 45.

    Just listen to the dr. and don't do anything too soon - let yourself heal and hopefully you too can be a success story, best of luck.
  • this shouldnt happen to young people. im so sorry you have to go through this. i can relate because i had major surgery at age 23. the older you get the less it bothers you. on the other side of the coin the younger you are the faster you heal >:D<
  • Being so young, you should bounce back quickly. Please take this advice to heart> Be very careful for the first three weeks or so after surgery!! Often the tendency is that people are so relieved to feel better than they did pre=surgery, that they do way too much and end up reinjuring a disc, or otherwise harming the area.

    Take it really easy the first week. Let people wait on you and practice your princess-in-training. Routine. Lol around except when you are gently walking several times each day. As others said, no bending at the waist, twisting, reaching up or sideways, pushing, pulling or lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk.

    ***Even if you have a crazy surgeon like mine who tells you to do anything you want after surgery, ignore that advice and follow ours to take it easy!! After two or three weeks, you can gradually increase your activities, but you should always be mindful of your back and treat it well from here on out. No helping friends move their heavy furniture, etc.

    Read about it here: http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/microdiscectomy-microdecompression-spine-surgery
  • I'm 28 and I had a microdiscectomy in Feb. '09. I felt better immediately after the surgery. I was walking around 3 hours afer the surgery. I did go back to my normal activities way too soon, and I'm paying for it now. Having the surgery was a good idea in my mind. My recovery included a couple of flare-ups, but mostly nerve pain. Just do not go too fast with things. Just because you feel better, it doesn't mean to go full-speed. Take your time and let your body heal, trust me.
  • Hello! I just had a discectomy/laminectomy almost 3 weeks ago and I too am too young for all of this (23 yr old).

    I was limping and not able to do anything pre surgery. This included taking care of my 2 1/2 yr old twin girls, so being in pain was not an option for me. I had just entered to compete in a half marathon and this has all taken away from my life style.

    However, had I known that that surgery would be this easy and taken the pain away like this a lot earlier, I would have had it done sooner. Immediately following surgery I was in a lot of pain, they kept me in the hospital over night. About a week following my surgery, I was no longer having the pain I originally had, but I did and do still have leg numbness and tingling which will go away in time since I had nerve damage.

    I encourage you to listen to your body and do what you believe is the best decision for yourself. My experience with the surgery has been great thus far, and my incision isn't even that bad!

    Good Luck, and I wish you a speedy recovery!
  • Hi Megan,

    I had a microD done at L4L5 in Jan2008 and I am now 100% recovered and able to do all the things I could do before I injured my back. I am a full time mother to 2 little ones and now have another on the way. My back is a little sore, but nothing worse than the normal pregnancy aches and pains, certainly no nerve pain or anything like that.

    My only lasting side effect from the op is I have a numb patch on the ankle/outer foot area of the leg that was worst affected by the nerve compression, but it doesn't bother me, it just feels a bit weird sometimes.

    This is a great forum to get any questions or worries addressed, so keep posting.

    All the best for the 4th September,

  • I didnt have a micro discectomey but had a fusion. Take care and let your body heal. Dont over do. You dont want to have to have a fusion. Trust me. I will be having surgery the same day as you. I am having my hardware taken out. I am pretty much fused and it is what my Ortho thinks is causing my pain.
    So I will be thinking of you and hope we both feel great soon.
  • Sorry to hear about your condition. I'm not too far from where you're at. I have a L5-S1 rupture disc. Been fighting it out for 2 years now. Doctors keep telling me that it'll heal by itself; from bulging. Now i've decided for surgery. Hope all goes well for you. I was only 23 when I got it. Totally sucks. I seriously wish you all the luck. I have constant pain all day. =(

  • It is six and a half months after my back surgery, so for anyone who is interested, here is what my experience was like.

    What was wrong: daily lower back pain that had become “unmanageable and worsening.” I also had off and on pain going down into my leg that for years I mistook “as a strange kind of shin splints.” My back pain had been going on for eight years, probably stemming from repeated back strains playing volleyball. For most of these years I believed that I had to endure my condition and that traditional medicine was not good at resolving common back pain. I sincerely tried every alternative under the sun, however, though without any genuine success. Diagnosis: three herniated discs, one operable, L5s1 disc.

    What kind of surgery did I have: the very common micro-discectomy. An incision is made into the back, nerves in the spinal column are moved aside and a portion of the vertebral disc is cut away, theoretically relieving pressure off the sciatic nerve that it is pressing against.

    I was warned that this surgery is not technically aimed to resolve back pain, but the sciatic leg pain, though some people have experienced back pain relief. I decided against the much more invasive “spinal fusion” surgery recommended to me as the “real back surgery.”

    Did it work: I still have back pain, I still have leg pain.

    Did it help: I do feel “better”. Instead of carrying around a back cushion and a back brace everywhere, I only carry the brace, and I don’t use it all of the time. I can sit through a movie, I can sit and write for two hours at a time. I can use the elliptical machine at the gym. My pain has resumed being “manageable.”

    How much time was I told to give my body to heal before I decided whether the surgery worked: I was told, alternately, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, a year, “everyone heals on their own timeline”, “there is no time line”, “nerves heal on their own timeline”, “at least as long as the time the nerve was compressed” (for me that would be eight years.)

    Would I recommend the surgery to someone else: Not particularly.

    Would I go back in time and do it again: Yes. At that time my pain was “unmanageable and worsening.” I might have “only gotten worse” had I not had the surgery, I just don’t know.

    Was the recovery very painful: Yes, very.

    How long did the recovery take: honestly? Longer than the doctors said.
    The first week I needed help at all times, including going to the bathroom. The first three weeks I didn’t leave the apartment (stairs, winter, snow all factors), and could shuffle, lay down, and only sit in my Aeron office chair (and for short periods of time). I was walking as soon and as often as possible. Sitting for more than a half an hour at a time remained painful well into 2-3 months after surgery. I could do everything I am doing today by 4 months.

    How much did it cost: No one is willing to give you an official estimate “until they have seen the claims” after the fact. Casually, a doctor estimated to me about $40,000 without insurance.

    That appears about right, I’ve seen charges of $25,000 for my 1 night at the hospital, $16,000 for surgeon, and then several hundred for anesthesiology, labs, etc.

    Did your insurance give you trouble:
    Yes. When I called before surgery to make sure they covered the surgery, they foresaw no reason that I would not be covered 90%. Post-surgery they do things like ‘ask the provider for more information’ and when the provider doesn’t respond in 45 days, they deny the claim. Or they say that Joe Shmo in the blood lab wasn’t an in-network provider. Or in my case they try to send me claims for the wrong surgery on the wrong day. Or in my case they inexplicably send me a different insurance card in the mail and say that I’ve been on the wrong plan for the last year and they have to re-hash all my claims and that my real plan only covers anything 60-70%. These have all been sorts of apocalypses in my life that are largely resolved after countless phone calls. However, now it’s six months down the line, I stopped getting claims more than three months ago and I’ve yet to actually get a correct bill from the surgeon or the hospital for the surgery. I think I wore them out.

    Actually I think my claims have become such a mess that nobody knows how to process them anymore and they’re languishing.

    Things I wish I had known beforehand: 1.) There’s a series of hoops that doctors make you jump through before you become a “surgery candidate.” You have to give medicines a try, physical therapy, and variations of cortisone/epidural injections. If you are really a surgery candidate, these turn out to be pointless and painful. The whole process took about a year.

    2) Also, post-surgery your surgeon sees you for two post-op visits where you are normally still undergoing “recovery pain”. Then you get referred to a ‘pysiatrist’, and your surgeon never actually sees you again to learn it the surgery really worked or not. My incision was perfect, so from my surgeon’s point of view, the surgery was a success. So it makes me wonder if he tells all future surgery candidates that in his experience it’s a highly successful surgery.

    3) Surgeons only know about surgery. I got a cold and asked him if my surgery should be cancelled and he said no. I show up and the anesthesiologist hears one sniffle and guess what? My surgery was cancelled.

    3) It turned out the most important question to ask was “are you an in-network provider?” NOT “Do you accept my insurance?” NOT THE SAME. You need to separately ask the hospital, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and you have to double-check with your insurance and document to whom you spoke with and when. I am sorry, but you have to document everything.

  • I had S1 L1 microdiscectomy twice in March 09. When the surgeon cuts off the bulging disc, opening left by the cut needs to heal by itself by forming a scar tissue that will close the incision. A week after my first surgery, coughing and sneezing caused the disc material to be pushed through previously cut area. Soon after another MRI confirmed the situation, I had the second microD.

    The recovery was slow and boring. I followed my surgeon's and physical therapist's order. It was mentally and emotionally hard for a person who had been independent and working full time, and I ended up on my back most of the time.

    I didn't have any insurance problems as the post above.

    Would I have the surgeries again? Yes, I was a in great deal of pain and the pain interfered with my social, personal, work life. Moreover, I became almost immobile due to the pain.

    Have your laptop near by, books, movies, phones. Anything you can do while lying on your back. Make sure walk the required daily walks. Once you do physical therapy, do the exercises religiously even if you don't feel the pain anymore.

    I should say I am doing pretty good. i work all day. I do feel bit of pain, but it is nothing like what it is was.

    Good luck!
    PM me if you any questions or comments.
  • So it's past 9/4 the day of your surgery. How did it go? How is recovery looking so far? Hope things are working out.

    I actually am going to have the same procedure done very soon on L5/S1 and the recovery stories here are making me worry somewhat since I don't have a signficant other to do things like "wait on me" or help me with daily stuff around the house.
  • I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I had no idea just how much pain I had been living with over the years and how miserable it was making me until I had my surgery. I too was up and walking within a few hours, was so bored the night of it I started walking the halls of the hospital and was released 24 hours after getting to my room. The beginning was hard more because I couldn't do much, not because of much pain. A few scary moments when I'd have a flare up and be convinced I had re injured myself but it went away quick and is all part of the process. I had mine June 18th, so less than three months ago and have already been on two camping trips including one this weekend where I hiked 7 miles through some rugged terrain. I could have never done that before and felt amazing doing it. I started having my back problems in my teens but wasn't diagnosed until a couple of years ago and had one rupture earlier this year and didn't have much choice but was still scared but couldn't be happier with the results. I'm only 33 myself but really feel like I've been given another chance and plan to use it.
  • Had my second discectomy (L4L5) 2 weeks ago and I walked 2 miles in 40 minutes today. I haven't needed anyone to wait on me since the day I came home from the hospital. And yes, I would do it again to take care of the pain.
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