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Herniated again...experiences???

FarmgrrlFFarmgrrl Posts: 146
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello all...

I posted a few days ago in the Injections section and had my first ESI in two years on Thursday. While reviewing my newest MRI images with my doc before the injection, its pretty much decided I have re-herniated again at L4-L5, left side again.

I'm curious to hear others experiences and treatments they received for recurrent herniation. When my neurosurgeon and I met two years ago in discussing the micro-discectomy, he informed me that in the case of re-herniation, fusion may be in my future. Has anyone gone for the 2nd discectomy or just skipped to fusion? Right now, my goal is to avoid surgery. I honestly can't afford to have surgery. I only have 4 1/2 weeks of FMLA left unitl next year due to an unrelated liver surgery I had to have this past June.

I'm trying to remain hopeful in the mean time. However, all I can see is me losing my job and declaring bankruptcy. All at 32 years of age?


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I also had a discetomy on l5 that reherniated after 3 months. My surgeon gave the choice of a redo or fusion. I chose re-do. It has now been 4 years later and the surgery is holding. I was told that if it re-herniates again that I will have to have a fusion.
  • Can you tell me what infuenced your decision to have another discectomy instead of going straight to fusion?

    Congrats on your success BTW!
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I have had 4 previous cervical surgeries with fusion. My surgeon and I both agreed that fusion of my lower back would be the last result. I have issues with my neck and could not imagine dealing with neck and back both. I do occasionally have flare-ups with my back and fear one day a fusion will have to be done but for now all is well. Or should I say as well as possible.lol.
  • As I think you know, you would be really pushing the time frame to get back to work within 4 1/2 weeks after a fusion. I imagine it has been done, but it really wouldn't be fair to go through all the things involved with fusion and then not give enough time to a full recovery.

    Sometimes a "reherniation" is more a result of an incomplete surgery the first time rather than a complete reinjury. Sometimes just enough of a small piece is left behind. It can cause problems right away or it can take months for it to get to a point where it begins to irritate a nerve or cause some inflammation. The symptoms increase until the patient feels like "it is starting all over again" and feels she/he has a reherniation of the same disc.

    The surgeon can go back in, clean out these pieces and the patient doesn't have further problems at that particular segment.

    Depending on how bad your stenosis is at L4-5 and L5-S1, it would appear that your surgeon would want to fuse several levels.

    We tried to get by with fusing one level (L4-5) but I have continued to have nerve pain problems, and am probably going to go back and have the adjoining levels fused after the holidays...haven't fully made up my mind yet.

    Anyway, hope the ESI gives you some relief and you can put off all surgeries for awhile.


  • I'm dying to get my hands on the MRI report to see what they have to say about the stenosis. Not sure what the plan is right now from the perspective of my PM docs. I know they're sending out progess notes to my PCP and my neurosurgeon. As a side note, I did have an MRI done 3 weeks after my surgery due to a fall (tripped on the vacuum cleaner cord, stupid left foot!) to rule out a tear but all was good at that point. I never felt the "pop" with this herniation so I have NO idea what caused this to come back but like you said it could have been incomplete, or as we all know, it could have been a sneeze. Hey, I'm pretty much a professional baby-wrestler at work too :)

    4 1/2 weeks is not even sufficient for another discectomy IMO. I'm not a big believer in rushing into anything because I know too well that you can cause more harm than by doing such things. If I worked for a smaller company, I'd probably be able to do what I need to do but we are large and to be "fair" to everyone they apply the same rules re: FMLA. (I use "fair" because my director and my VP both managed to keep their jobs after being out past the 12 week mark...another story though).

    Hoping this ESI does it's job. Leg is back to aching again today, had a very sleepless night! I'm happy I get to take my Aleve again though :)
  • I reherniated 1 month post op and 6 months later I needed to have a 2 level TLIF with titanium hardware. I also had more nerve compression and retrolisthesis going on that had to be dealt with. I hope your ESI gives you relief. Take care
  • I am wondering if I have better prospects of success with a 2nd micro-d as this one lasted 2 years? It seems when a lot of folks re-herniated, they do so very soon after surgery?

  • I re-herniated a week after my first one. My surgeon advised me to have a 2nd microD because a fusion would be a last resort. He said jumping from microD to fusion would be drastic. In my case, a 2nd microD was an available option.
    I was glad that I didn't have to choose fusion because I know the recovery from a fusion would be a lot more painful and lengthy.
  • My disc was pretty much shot. An MVA 6 weeks after a micro pretty much did it in. We tried meds and Pt and ESI and got nowhere.

    So I opted for fusion because is made sense. I will be starting PT on week 4-6. I will also be returning to work part-time to try it out. I'm a desk jockey. So getting up and moving around is my biggest enemy. We will see how it goes. I went back to work after 4 weeks from my micro and only did part time as sitting was a killer.

    I don't think 12 weeks off work for a micro is realistic. That is pushing the envelope. 12 weeks for a traditional fusion sure.

    Then again we all heal at different rates and some have different theories on how long they should recover.

    I'm not using FMLA or STD as I don't want to take the pay cut. I'm using 2 weeks of sick then 2 weeks of vacation. When I return part-time then it will be flex time and I can do some work from home. So it all fits nice and legal with HR.
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