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At My Wits End - Pain is Back!

Sugaree1209SSugaree1209 Posts: 50
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello All,
I had a microdiscectomy on L5 S1 in June, which was, what I thought, a great success.

I was wrong. Now, almost 5 months later, the pain has returned almost full force. The only difference this time is that my foot is not numb (yet). The pain started again 3 weeks ago, and has gotten progressively worse. Again, it is all leg pain! Oddly enough, this time it doesn't hurt to walk, it hurts more to sit.

According to the first MRI, the problem is with this one disc only (L5 S1), everything else is fine. How can one disc cause SO much trouble??

What happened here! I followed every instruction, I never bend at the waist, I don't even carry my purse on my shoulder anymore! I have walked my butt off everyday.I did everything I was told, and here we are again.

I suppose this is a reherniation. I won't see the doctor until next Friday, and in the interim I am freaking out. I cannnot live with this pain for the rest of my life!

So, do these problems EVER get resolved? Does anyone have any positive results with a repeat microdiscectomy? Are we talking fusions here? Wouldn't that ruin the good discs around it?

I am profoundly depressed that this has reared it's ugly head again and frightened that my life is ruined.

Any insight anyone?

Happy Halloween by the way.
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Comments

  • You may just have to adjust to a different lifestyle. Your back will never be as God intended it to be. You could have reherniated by coughing or sneezing and it may have nothing to do with the fact that you followed all the rules.

    Do you have any pain meds to get through until next Friday? Try to relax as much as you can and take it easy as I am sure you are at the rate with the pain that you are in.

    Good luck and may your get some relief soon!
    S~
  • gwennie17gwennie17 Posts: 2,912
    edited 06/17/2016 - 1:08 PM
    Sometimes, particularly with some of the "micro" surgeries, it is difficult to remove all the little pieces of the disc. In the past, the common surgery was to remove ALL the disc. This prevented the problem of a tiny piece being left behind and causing nerve irritation, but it resulted in the greater problem of the patient being left with a bone-on-bone situation.

    Now the disc is shaved or partially removed. The surgeon tries to remove the pieces but occasionally one will be left behind and it can compress the nerve or can cause a chemical irritation to the disc. Even though this will be referred to as a reherniation, it does not mean you did something that caused the disc to bulge again or rupture. Of course, that can happen, but it does not have to for the pain to come back.

    I'm not sure what the statistics for success are on a second surgery for reherniation. Depending on the surgeon, a more permanent surgery is recommended. In a fusion, the disc is removed and replaced with some hardware that holds the space open so the nerves are not squished. At the L5-S1 level there isn't too much problem with the "domino effect" because the sacrum is naturally fused already and there is basically no movement in the L5-S1 segment. If you ignored good posture and body mechanics, I suppose you could develop problems with L4-5 because that segment does take the brunt of all bending and twisting movements, but if you are reasonably careful, it should be able to withstand fusion.

    You might ask if you would be a candidate for an artificial disc. Otherwise ask about the axiaLIF procedure for fusion.

    It is a new procedure that is not yet commonly performed. If your surgeon has not been trained to do it, he won't be a big fan, but it is worth looking into if you decide to go the fusion route.

    In any case, your life is far from ruined.

    Gwennie
  • I am in a similar position to yourself, except my microdiscectomy has not yet left me pain free. As I understand it, once a disc is herniated it will always be weaker and you stand a greater chance of it reherniating, even when you follow the rules. Apparently the harder outer section of the disc never regenerates and the gap is filled by scar tissue which is not as strong. My surgeon told me that if the disc reherniated it is possible to redo the microdiscectomy, but the success rate is not as high and if it continues to cause problems it may be necessary to perform a fusion or disc replacement if you are a suitable canditate.

    I'm not sure if this is applicable to you, but when I still had leg pain several weeks after the surgey, my surgeon said that sometimes the nerve takes time to recover from the compression and the surgery and cortisone injections can help. It certainly got rid of most of my leg pain, but in my case has unfortunately not worked completely
  • I had a microD at L3/L4 back in Dec 07. It took about 1 year for the nerve to heal. But I never had it go away and then come back. I did have to have a rhizotomy, epidural, medial branch block etc. during the healing process because I could barely move my leg. I hope that it is not a reherniation but if it is don't feel like you made a mistake going for the microD. I think that you would still be better off trying the microD first before going straight in to a fusion. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and please keep us posted.
  • Please let us know how your dr. appt goes.
    I have a 2nd follow up to my microdiscectomy that was a little over 2 months ago.

    At my 6 week appt, I was not really any better and in a lot of pain. Dr. gave me prednisone to help reduce inflammation but felt I was making progress. I've made little (very little) since the last appt despite my committment to walking, not lifting, bending, etc.

    i'm interested HopeLeo's (S) response as this might explain why I have absolutely 0 recovery from my numbness and still feel the never is compressed.

    I hope you have pain meds to get you through until your dr. appt. If not, take it easy . . .I found ice worked best for me but I know for some, heat is better.
  • My micro didn't help either. The jury is still out on my fusion results as I am only 10 weeks out. I understand your frustration at how one disc can cause soooo much pain and suffering. Amazing isn't it, like a cruel joke. I am 100% healthy, no medical problems at all, and if it wasn't for my two discs (l-4/s-1) I would be fine! I am an active 40 year old woman, maybe 20# overweight, but generally in shape, but walk like I am 90 most days!! I know you have a big decision about where you are going from here and my advice is to be thourough in your research and get lots of opinions. Good luck to you and keep us posted.
    Sincerely,
    Rachel
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