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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Hello all,

My name is Nick, I live in the UK and am going in for a discectomy on my lower left side (I didn't note the numbers of the disc... sorry everybody here is very med - tech involved...l)

After looking round this site for 5 minutes, I am an amateur with very little to moan about....... but I'm here now so, I thought I may get some answers to my questions... here is the scenario:

I'm 32, up until a year ago ran a few marathons did a triathlon and weighed about 13 and a bit stones (bit porky round the sides but I liked a pint of Guiness or two as well)

In October 2008 I get pain in my left leg. I thought I'd pulled my hammy (hamstring) so sat tight and waited for it to recover. It didn't. It was Sciatica, the pain runs down my left butt-cheek straight down the back of my leg and into my ankle. Sometimes the pain just manifests itself in one particular area. Most days I can walk to the shops in no more than mild discomfort. I have tried riding my bike too but that just hurts the back of my leg.

I went off work in Jan 2009, as I can't sit down in a chair without my leg, locking / cramping. It's odd but I can lie down on my back and walk often enough though most times it's because I'm on codeine or tramadol.

I had 2 x epidural type cordial lots of 4-5 injections which didn't appear to do much, 10 weeks of physio, and a root nerve block. (Which by the way was a rubbish day out but interesting to watch it happening on a big screen whilst somebody holds you down and asks inane questions...)

It's now November and I live on 8 heavy pain killers a day and try not to take more.

On December 7th I have a discectomy scheduled. 5 weeks after this I start a job - no lifting it's a lecturing job and I want to be fit to go at least a few days a week.

So the op is a week tomorrow, I hope I'm doing the right thing. It's not that I am scared, I am bothered that if this is the wrong decision for me then it's real life changing stuff. I've waited a year for this operation on the NHS so I can't really turn it down and feel I have no other choices as my quality of life is (from what I have been used to, pretty rubbish) I can't go on not being able to sit in a chair for the rest of my life and waking up every 5 hours in leg pain.

Anybody got any advice?

I'm moving in with the Old ma and Pa so they can keep an eye on me for a month after the operation. My pain is in my leg and butt rather than my back, though my back is stiff from lying on a bed for 12 months. I have also lost 2 stone in weight in the last 4 months (I think this is due to one meal a day only, rather than diabetes or cancer.)

I think that covers my position, anybody who has any positive encouragement or advice, I'd love to hear it.

Many thanks,



  • PS the loser icon which has appeared in line 3 was not intentional!

    And my disc is described as 'Bulging' if I forgot to say that,


  • No worries about the lack of technological terms here. Most of us just know enough to be a bit dangerous. It would seem you've done the conservative treatments and, since your pain is mostly in your leg, the microdiscectomy is the next step. Hopefully, if all goes well, you may well be able to do the lecturing job in five weeks -- especially if you're up walking about and not sitting all the time. You may feel a great deal of relief right after surgery and be tempted to do too much. Don't do that. Be careful. You may also have a bunch of nerve pain after surgery because you will have had disc material removed from pressing on the nerve. The pains may also come and go for a bit. It's hard to say. At any rate, microdiscectomy seems to work best for those who have leg pain, which you have, so I'd say you're on the right track. Here's hoping all goes well and you get your life back. Just remember to take it easy for a bit after surgery so you don't re-injure yourself while you're healing.

    All the best,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. There's a lot of great info on this site and the members of the forum are very knowledgeable, helpful and supportive.

    Nobody can tell you whether you've made the right choice or not, but we'll all tell you to go with what your gut is telling you. If you're in constant pain and can't sit for any length of time, then you're right - that's no way to live. It's also factors into your decision that you've tried all the conservative measures and nothing has worked for you, so surgery appears to be the last resort.

    You said that you're having a discectomy - can you explain more about what they're going to do? Like is it minimally invasive surgery or not? Will you be wearing a brace, etc?

    Please give us a little more info about what you're going to have done and we'll be able to help you more.

    Take care,

  • Hi Cath and Linda,

    thank-you so much for your replies. I'm having a discectomy not a micro-discectomy. Apparently it's still a small incision but not a 'micro' - The surgeon who I had all of 8 minutes with to make this decision said he may have to do another procedure but would not know until he got in there, I presume this may be a 'laminectomy'.

    The incision is still very small I am led to believe, just a few centimetres. The surgery is invasive but minimally so as is my understanding as some patients go home the same day but most stay one night providing there are not complications.

    I think I am getting a bit nervous having read a bunch of horror stories, though I imagine the majority of people who it works out fine for, don't spend loads of time telling people on-line as they are getting on with their lives.

    It's kinda comfy in bed, I've not been in the real world for nearly a year and I don't need to describe to the people on this site what that feels like. I'm getting edgy about it all now because lying down in bed isn't so bad when on the pain killers.... it's the other stuff that is generally unbearable, as I can't sit to drive without my leg locking up and harsh pain, or sit down at 90 degrees at all really, beyond 5-10 minutes in a regular chair, so unless I can have a bed in my new office, I know I have to have this done.

    I don't think my disc has collapsed, it is described as 'bulging' - My back doesn't hurt too much but my lower back is pretty stiff and locked up as I don't really move about a lot at all at the moment.

    It's just getting a bit real now!

    I'm not worried about the pain but I am a little worried about foot drop and catheters etc.....

    I'm also a bit worried that another disc may go - I read that 10-15% of patients have another disc bulge/herniate/prolapse and most of this happens in the first 2 months of recovery.

    I am going to have access to a pool and a gym on a daily basis from 4 weeks after the op - I plan to take it easy.... though last year I was swimming a mile in 20 minutes in the pool, this year I've done nothing and my muscle has faded away so it'll be a gradual step back to health.

    Thanks again for replying, both,


  • n i truely wish ya the best..go slow after even when ya feel better after...as a backie i know water is the best.. dont do laps for long while..cause as a swimmer ya know how great ya can feel in water..
    when im in water wish i could live in it..
    try to hang in there and think of how blessed ya are to have parents who can help ya after..
    im sure will be hard to move back home..but will be great to have them help ya..as a parent of 4 i love helpin my kids in anyway..
    i wish ya the best.. keep us posted
    and remember move,walk when ever ya can pain meds can make ya feel comfty at times and make ya want to lay in bed..move about when ya can..

    names mary
    keep in touch and welcome dont listen to horor stories yours will be fine gotta have positive attitude goin in to surgery really makes a difference
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • about reading the horror stories here scaring you, but it is true that many people have surgery and feel great, so they don't come back here to say that all has gone well. Don't worry about the catheter -- they do that after you're asleep and, believe me, when you wake up, you'll be glad it's there because you really don't feel like getting up to pee. They'll take it out soon enough and, hopefully, you'll be medicated, so won't notice that too much either. They'll probably put some restrictions on you about how soon you can get in the water, but I think most people who've done pool exercises seem to get on better than others.

    Best wishes,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi, I know it's not a microdiscectomy but sounds similar. It sounds like you are not in the USA. Either way, find out what spine area (sounds like lumbar if your sciatic nerve is bothering you).

    I was a runner (hope to still be some day) and had dealt with sciatic pain for years and managed via PT. Unfortunately, I ruptured/herniated a disc at L5-S1 over the summer which had me stuck in bed and eventually a trip to the emergency room. I lost feeling in my left leg, buttocks, foot. If your pain is mostly leg/buttocks, the microdiscectomy is a good option from what I've researched (of course I'm not a doctor).

    I would agree with others that no matter how good you feel after the surgery listen to your doctor - do not bend, lift, or twist and do not over do it. Even if you feel great at 6 weeks, it takes 3 months for the inner incisions to heal properly.

    It sounds like you've dealt with the pain long enough with alternative methods that aren't successful.

    No worries on technical terms. I'm fairly new and still get lost in most of the achronyms.

    If you want more advice from people's experience, do try to find out which vertabrae and the name of the procedure. I had herniation at L5-S1 (lumbar 5 and sacrial 1). My suspecision is that you are having trouble at this layer or L5-L4 due to sciatic issues with your leg . . .but I am not doctor and like I said new to this.

    Smart move to move in with your folks for oversight during recovery!
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