Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Sciatica in opposite leg/buttock started seven weeks after microdiscectomy/hemilaminectomy L5/S1

CoastiejonCCoastiejon Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had an L5S1 microdiscectomy/hemilaminectomy on April 9,2009 and seven weeks to the day my opposite leg/buttock started pins & needles. I had another MRI in the end of July and neuro says everything looks fine. Why do I still have sciatica in my opposite leg and how can I get rid of it? I've done 1.5 months of PT. It is now five month after surgery and I still have pain in left side and sitting for any length of time is difficult.
Well, my Ortho said I should have been back to work 3 months after my microdisc and it has now been five. He also said that I had a pretty significant herniation and it may take longer. As I said in an earlier post, I did have a follow up mri after I started getting these symptoms and it came back clean. I don't know much about this stuff but it seems strange to me that I would now have pins/needles in the opposite leg and have a clean mri. I'm thinking medrol dospak at the least and/or esi but ortho wants to wait and see. Am I doing further damage by waiting? I've had these symptoms on and off(mostly "on") for three months. I've tried acupuncture, various juices, etc. I guess a witch doctor is next!
I just met with my neuro today and he is sending me for a CT scan of my pelvis/lower back, an appointment with pain management and one with a rehab physician? He assumed that pain management will probably be giving me an injection. Anybody have any input?


  • There are several possibilities for increased pain after the type of surgery you had. Sometimes a little piece of the disc is kind of free-floating and the surgeon isn't able to remove all the tiny pieces. On occasion, this can begin to cause new pain.

    You could have reherniated the disc. It is also possible that the L5 nerve root is inflamed from the surgery, and is causing new radicular pain.

    It is possible that you have scar tissue from the surgery forming around the nerve.

    Some of these things would not necessarily show up on a new MRI.

    I'm sure there are other possibilities as well. It sounds like your neuro is taking your complaints seriously and will see that you get to the bottom of this new pain.

    Good luck. Hope they find out soon what is causing the problem.
  • Well, it's over 2 months since my last post. I had a CT scan that showed no abnormalities. I also had one ESI. Just prior to the ESI, my pain was nearly gone. I told this to the Pain Management DR and he said that the ESI may be just what I need to put me entirely painfree. ESI was three weeks ago. The following day was no change. The second day, I started getting a slight burning/tingling all the way down to my toes. It gradually got worse for about a week and now seems to be subsiding. I saw him today and he said there is no way his shot could have worsened my symptoms. I beg to differ.. I am begging for it to go away so I can resume my career. He said I should go for a second ESI. Other than that, he offered Lyrica but I know I can't fly with it. HELP!My main complaint is LBP on left side that gets worse with sitting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • Update: The pain has settled down to a point where it's primarily in my left butt and travels down my leg and is brought on by extended sitting or laying on my back. My next epidural is scheduled for two days from now but I think I'm going to cancel. I don't want to relive the pain from the first one. Even though the PM DR assured me that there was no way the epidural caused that pain. I just don't know what to do next.
  • Well...as you can see, this is why it is called "practicing" medicine. Having been through more than a year of trying to figure out the next move, I can certainly emphathize with you!

    When there is a problem that appears to be coming from nerve compression it can be hard to track down. All I can tell you from my experience is that I have never had two injections that were the same experience. I've lost track of how many I've had, that and nerve blocks, and every time it is different. Sometimes it hurts more than other times. Sometimes I have more of a response than other times. I went to one PM doc for a year and had a number of injections with him and never had any response -- nothing. This past year I started going to a different guy and have had a response each and every time. No one knows why -- it does not seem that he is doing anything differently...but the last time I was fairly symptom-free for a couple days...and then when the pain returned, it had moved. I don't know if this experience is unique or if it is fairly common.

    Anyway, my point is that the spine is very complex and complicated and the nerves make it all unpredictable. There is little way to predict how a procedure or a surgery will turn out. The doctors tend to try things in a fairly predictable order, but much of it is done to rule something in or out. Even when your MRI is "fine" it does not mean that there is not a problem. It just means that it is not visible on the MRI. Conversely, one can have a MRI that shows disc bulges and herniations and the patient can be completely symptom-free...and free of pain. It can be VERY frustrating.

    I cannot suggest what you should do next. You might want to get another opinion if your pain continues. Different doctors have different approaches to the same problem.

  • I suffer this exact same pain and it is caused by my facet joints. I find that having a rhizotomy (nerve burn) about 1 x a year helps with the lbp, nerve pain down leg and pain in tailbone and lower back from sitting.

    It is common to have facet pain after a microdiscectomy. It is common for my doc to automatically do a rhizotomy a week or 2 after microD.

    Sometimes the injection will further irritate the nerve that is already irritated but that pain should be short lived.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Thanks guys. With that in mind, I may try another epidural. After that, I think I need to find a spine specialist. Does anyone have experience with these laser spine institutes or the like? Thanks again
  • Just had second ESI on friday (2 months after the first) I don't feel much if any relief. I just don't know what to do. I have been told that if I don't get fixed fast that I will be forced to retire and I don't want that at all.
  • Update-since 2nd esi didn't help and I am now soon to be unemployed because of this, I called my neuro and asked if my ct scan that was done three months ago had any abnormalities. I assumed that it did not. Since they never called me. Well, to my horrific surprise, the nurse said that I have narrowing and bulging at L5/S1 and a slight compression on S1 nerve. I've been in pain for 7 months because of this and have been told that it's just inflamation and that it "should" go away. The nuero was not in today but thie nurse told me that it was incumbant on me to call in and get the results! Am I wrong thinking they should have called me?
  • Who ordered the CT scan?
  • Just checking in to see how you were doing.
    I can't comment on the CT Scan or how they approached it.

    It sounds like now you are waiting on a call back from neurosurgeon and I hope that this is a breakthrough on how they can help you get past this point in your recovery.

    Again, just wanted to stop in to see how you are. Sounds like you are hurting pretty badly and need to get to the source of this pain...glad you are taking charge and pressing politely for answers.
  • Thanks dnice. Gwennie, the ct was ordered by the neuro. I hope this can be resolved. I've known for over seven months that something isn't quite right but have erroneously been told that it's probably inflammation and it should fix it. The is supposedly one of the top neuro's in the area! I am beside myself.
  • hey Jon,
    I sent you a PM

    However your post proves the point that we know our own bodies and we know when something does not feel right despite being told nothing is wrong with us or its just inflammation.

    As you know I am still seeking the answer to my current pain, I know its not in my head, LOL

    I hope that others in our same situation will realize that we can't give up seeking for answers, and being advocates for ourselves.

    Good luck Jon, I truly hope this turns things around for you, knowledge is power!!

  • It is hard not to be angry over this episode...but all you can do is move ahead. Pester your PCP to order the MRI and then go from there. Your situation is one example of why it is always a good idea to request a copy of the written radiology reports. Apparently we cannot depend on the surgeon's office to call if something is amiss.

    Perhaps your surgeon did not consider anything amiss. This will need to be determined.
  • Agreeing with Gwennie and Sandra.

    I learned that backs are a tricky thing and take time BUT don't 2nd guess yourself. My doctor told me the surgery should have been gratifying. I never felt that. I was actually annoyed every time he said it. Luckily he listened to me and sent me for the "peace of mind MRI".

    Also, I know it's hard not to be mad but glad you are taking charge. The contrast/non contrast is important now that you've had a surgery b/c it can help them see scar tissue vs. disc material.

    Let us know how the MRI goes.
  • NS office called yesterday and wants contrast and noncontrast MRI and to see me afterwards. Now my PCM has to put in the paperwork and it becomes another waiting game. In the meantime, the tingling has just started on the bottom of my foot too.
  • I've spent the weekend asking myself if I did PT too aggressively or not enough. If I had worked harder at core strengthening. Did I walk too far too fast. If I had just lost 5 more pounds, etc. Just beating the heck out of myself. It's just getting ridiculous. I will feel better after I speak with my PM doctor monday. It's the losing my job and, unless I get this fixed, my livelihood as a pilot that is really has me bummed. I know, cheer up. It's tough some times.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Does your employer offer short term or long term disability (STD or LTD)? You should check if you are not sure. STD and LTD replace a % of your income if you are unable to work due to a disabling condition.

    I was on STD May-November and then that maxed out, and now I am on LTD. Thank goodness I have it as it's kept us going financially after hubby got laid off in October.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi All, I just got home from the NS. He looked at my latest MRI and said that he can not find a reason for me to have the pain that I am having on the left side. He mentioned the he could do a fusion but that may or may not help. I'm not going to do a fusion just because I have nothing else to do that day! This is SO frustrating. He is sending me out for a bone scan and for a second opinion. I just can't believe he can't find what is causing this. It came on exactly seven weeks after my microdiscectomy on the other side and is brought on my extended sitting and laying on a hard surface on my back. I know that laying on one's stomach is supposed to be a no-no but it certainly relieves my discomfort.
  • I am sorry that after your long awaited appointment with your surgeon, h can not see what is causing your pain and symptoms. Was he looking at a recent MRI?

    I have the same issues as you know on my opposite side that I had surgery and I am still trying to get a difinative diagnosis, I guess its complicated.

    Remember not everything shows up on an MRI, there are other tests they can do, don't give up, its not always in black and white.

    I agree about the fusion, if he is recommending it just because he doesn't know what else to do, probably isn't such a good idea as it will probably not take care of your current symptoms. My surgeon was thinking along the same lines, a fusion, but when he said the discogram was negative, he won't do a fusion on me.

    Maybe you can get a discogram or a CT myelogram, they are not fun tests but they might paint a clearer picture for you.

    Keep us posted and good luck, try to hang in there, I certainly do understand your frustration but please try to remain positive.

  • Had second NS opinion today. He told me that my MRI was very good quality and he could see no reason on it for me to have this annoying pain. He said that as he sees it I have two choices. Try to suck it up and live with it or get a discogram and that will most likely show that I have a bad disc and then he would do a "minimally invasive" level one fusion. Not really very hopeful at this point and have chosen door number one for now.
  • Tough choice. The discograms are controversial (or maybe that's mylogram) b/c they can cause problems too.

    MI Fusion is still a fusion (my surgeon does them but he is very clear that the only minimally invasive part is that he doesn't disrupt muscles. He is clear that it's still 'breaking bones' and screwing them back together).

    I think option or door #1 could be a good choice. Can he refer you to a PM doctor that has expertise in managing the pain without use of heavy narcotics?

    I only suggest this b/c my surgeon said that if I didn't have the 'free' piece of disc, he is all for alternate options to manage the pain to avoid surgery...inversion tables, pilates, etc. and would have referred me to someone.

    Just a thought.
  • Coastiejon said:
    Had second NS opinion today. He told me that my MRI was very good quality and he could see no reason on it for me to have this annoying pain. He said that as he sees it I have two choices. Try to suck it up and live with it or get a discogram and that will most likely show that I have a bad disc and then he would do a "minimally invasive" level one fusion. Not really very hopeful at this point and have chosen door number one for now.

    I had a similar situation after my laminectomy, nothing on the MRI, epiurals, pain meds, PT, did it all. Already had the Discogram and had no pain, disk was still good so they ruled out the disk. Gave up and took nsaids and dealt with the pain. 2 years later, the same disk, on a new MRI, black as night, DDD, ALIF fusion on L5-S1 3 weeks ago.

    Only way your sure to find out that its not the disk or is the disk thats the problem, is to do the discogram. Just a suggestion. At least you will know. Good Luck. ;)
  • I had a similar situation as well. Last year had a hemi-laminectomy and a microdisctomy L5-S1 on my right side. Two weeks after my surgery I started having a burning sensation on my left lower back. I never had it before my surgery. Only pain in the center to right side. Went for a post surgical MRI and it showed I had a 3mm x 8mm cyst on my left L5-S1 facet joint. The NS that did my surgery said it wasn't a problem, it could be just post surgical trauma. Went to Pain Managment doc. Had two facet joint injections and three epidural injections, nothing helped.

    I just went to another NS last week who specializes in cyst removals and she says thats what my problems are and thinks I need a single maybe a two level fusion. Going to see another NS who's expertise are fusions in another two weeks. We will see.

    So, sometimes its better to get muliple epinions
  • I have been trying to live with this and and having mixed results. I'm not interested in jumping into a fusion just yet. My pain basically starts in the upper buttock and most of the time goes to my foot. Pain often radiates out to the side as well. Seems aggravated when anything provides pressure to lower left side of back (just below belt). Having already tried herbals, juices, PM, PT and accupuncture, I decided to try massage therapy. I was lucky enough to have a therapist who had once broken his back and his with has a L4/L5 fusion. I have only been to him once but while he was working his way down my spine, he commented that something felt "odd" in the area I am having trouble with. It only appears to be on one side and from the way he explained, it sounds, possibly, like a lipoma. Just a wild guess but I wonder if this could be causing my problems. The NS's have never looked at my back in their offices, just recommending next step is fusion and I am not going to rush into it. This really is drastically effecting my life (I have a 17 month old!) and I need to get a handle on it. My worst nightmare is a fusion and no relief or pain gets even worse.
  • foxyjillyffoxyjilly Posts: 1
    edited 05/20/2014 - 5:18 AM
    I had an endoscopic microdiscectomy 7 weeks ago on the left side was still in pain for a few weeks then one day after a lot of walking
    the pain dissapeared on the left and started on the right !! Physio says I have good movement and thinks I overdid it . Its so frustrating and scary ! It hurts from my hip to my leg but walking eases it but I don't know if I'm doing right for doing wrong !! Any ideas ?? This right side sciatica has been a week now !
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    This is an old thread, for the best responses and support I suggest you make a new post, you can do this by clicking on 'Create forum post' on the left column.

    Welcome to Spine-Health and how to get started here

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
Sign In or Register to comment.