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New and about to have surgery

JennasisJJennasis Posts: 19
Hey everyone. I am new to the boards and just scheduled surgery for this coming Tuesday. I have a severely herniated L5-S1 that has caused crippling, debilitating leg pain, along with severe numbness and weakness. I cannot walk or even stand. I have to lay flat on the floor or crawl around on my hands and knees to get around the house. I can't work, pain meds do not help (and I have tried everything). I had an epidural back at the end of January and that provided relief for about two weeks before the back pain started again.

Prior to the epidural I was in agony. Unable to twist or bend, walk or move. Riding in a car was beyond torture.

Oddly, my back was doing what I would describe as "ok", and then last WEEK, BAM! The shooting, crippling agony of sciatica. In desperatio I went to a chiroprctor and it made it worse. I can barely use my right leg at all now.

Had an MRI wednesday and an hour later my doctor (pain management specialist) calls me to say I need a surgeon STAT. SO I saw the surgeon yesterday and he's getting me in to the operating room on Tuesday.

Im blessed to have docs who move this quickly. I have read about the microdiscectomy and have heard posivtive and negative things. I would do anything to have the agony gone.

The surgeon said the pain should be nearly (if not completely) gone post-op, but the numbness and weakness may be permanent. I hope that since the nerve hasn't been compressed for terribly long, that this won't be the case.

Anybody have some success stories they can share? I am nervous about the surgery.


  • If you look on the section of the board under Treatments labeled "back surgery and neck surgery" you will see a variety of posts from members who have had this surgery previously or recently.

    Most people do very well with this procedure. The important thing to know is to be very careful in the immediate weeks after surgery. Sometimes people feel so much better that they push too hard and try to do too much too soon. If you are aware that you have limitations, and that the disc will not heal solidly until after the first three months, you should do well.

    Have you read some of the articles on this website. If you like knowing more about the procedure, you can read here:



    Good luck to you. The first couple days are difficult, but they should keep you well medicated. It gets easier after that.
  • Hi there,

    You will find several members that have had great success with this surgery. But like Gwennie mentions, the key is to ask your doctor if you are not sure of what to do and not to do.

    Key tips on recovery:
    - Log roll to get up out of bed.
    - No bending at all for 6 weeks. This means no laundry, dishes, etc. If you drop something on the floor, it stays until someone can pick it up for you. OR get a 'grabber' (or gopher) which will help some things.
    - No twisting (this goes with no taking dishes out of dishwasher). Keep shoulders/hips as aligned as possible.
    -no lifting

    I also recommend not driving for as much of the 6 weeks as possible because that jostles you more than being a passenger in the car.

    You'll feel better so you'll think you can do stuff like bending, lifting, twisting, but don't do it.

    That being said, the other good thing after the surgery is walking on flat surfaces. The distance doesn't matter but get up and walk a little bit every hour. It helps keep scar tissue from adhering to the nerve. Also, don't sit for more than 10-15 mins...save sitting for meals.

    Good luck!
  • As a last ditch before surgery, please consider seeing a Physical Therapist certified in the McKenzie Method.

    I've herniated the same darn disk three times, the first two times ending in surgery after trying "everything" too. But I wish someone had pointed me to this type of therapy (you can research it online). I think I could have avoided surgery the first time.

    The bottom line is this: surgery is indeed a good option for people, and you may need to go there. However, once you go down that road there's no going back. For me, the scar tissue from the first two surgeries is my biggest problem after herniating a third time. Using McKenzie, I've managed to heal my disk (it's been just shy of a year since the most recent herniation), but I have pain from the nerve catching on the scar tissue.

    So, just a tiny bit of advice from someone who's been there.

    Good luck!
  • Are people certified in this method?
    Do I just ask my PT person about it?

    I'll have to do research. I have herniated twice and am about 9 weeks post op of my 2nd microD on L5S1.

    I'm determined to avoid another surgery. In some ways, I've come to terms if that's my only option but I have also been doing a lot of reading on options so am excited to hear this worked for you.

    I think you were one of the folks that said patience is the key.

    thanks for the information.
  • Surgery was successful. The disc was herniated so severely that it was jammed out and up into my spinal cord (like hair in a drain). Surgeon said it was 10x's the size of what he usually removes....he was impressed.

    I was 90% pain free immediately upon waking from surgery but now have leg numbness and weakness and occassional twinges on sciatic pain. NOTHING like it was before. I start P/T on Thursday. Hoping for a quick and successful recovery!
  • Hey there,

    Such good news about the surgery.
    Just to set expectations, don't push or overdo it. With back surgeries, it's a 6-week minimum recovery.

    I hope your progress continues. They key to success is really not forgetting the key points of no bending, twisting, or lifting. When you feel good, remember...don't give in to temptation to do these things at least for 3 months.

    Congrats on being on the other side. Keep us posted!
  • Be careful on this... I was doing that for a year, at least. My disc never got better at all. When I went to see the current surgeon. I told him I was doing McKenzie and showed him what I was doing. He told me to stop it immediately and not go back to that PT.

    I have both the Neck and Back book. My surgeon asked me to throw them away... Pretty harsh opinion of them I must say. He is usually very easy going. That got him really perked up.

    He explained a different viewpoint to what McKenzie Method was doing to my disc. Since it never helped me I had no problem stopping.

    During my recovery from fusion I am doing a modified set of Pilates exercises and they work well. This is all guided by my surgeon and his request to the PT office as to what he wants to see happen.

    Now that said, McKenzie has been around a while and is respected in many circles.
  • Jennasis,

    I had similar symptoms as you when I had my first discectomy. After 2 months I felt like a new person. The numbness greatly subsided. My doctor said that if the nerve damage isn't permanent, that the nerve will regenerate at the very slow rate of 0.75 inches per month. If you have long legs like me, it will take about 4 years to go the whole length of my leg.

    Here is the most important thing I want to say to you based upon my own experience -- you need to realize that your disk will always be vulnerable to reherniation. My doctor cleared me after 3 months to do whatever I wanted to do. Well, I stupidly shoveled some snow which caused a flare-up (it subsided). The following spring I badly reherniated the disk by riding my bike up a very steep hill. That led to my second discectomy, which then led to a spinal fusion.

    In retrospect, I wish I had done more to slowly and gently build up my core strength after my first surgery. I think I would still be feeling like a new person rather than this depressed, discouraged, regretful person that I am right now due to my own poor judgment (because I believed the medical advice to go do "anything").

    Take care of that disk! Best wishes on a continued journey to becoming pain free!!
  • ZO6 - I appreciate your insight on the McKenzie method too. Just so folks know, any advice for things to 'try' here...I always clear with my doctor.
    I value the doctor-patient relationship. He can't help me if he doesn't know the other puzzle pieces and likewise, the other puzzle pieces would be remiss if they didn't understand what my doctor is doing.

    I'm not surprised that there are 2 schools of thoughts on this method.
  • Wow...thanks everyone! I didn't realize how slowly my nerve would heal, but hopefully it will. I'm 5'7" so it may be a while. Frankly, i am just hoping to be pain free and active enough to thoroughly enjoy my vacation this October (Disney World! Lots of walking).

    I have a VERY labor intensive job, so I hope to be able to keep working and still take care of my back. Wonder if a brce would be helpful? I own a horse farm. In addition to riding and training horses, i also lift 50lb bags of feed and 40-80lb bales of hay. Not the best career choice for a bad back eh?

    Oddly, I did NOT injure my back working at the farm...or riding.
  • DNice -

    Yes you can get a McKenzie Certified PT. The McKenzie Institute has been around for a while. My PT was certified. My surgeon didn't care. He felt that the PT was giving me the wrong exercises. The previous surgeon I had did not mind McKenzie method at all.

    Like you said. Make sure your surgeon agrees. Not on just the method but what they are doing with you. Fortunately my surgeon and the place he sent me for PT have a very good working relationship. They send him updated reports. So he knows what PT is and is not doing for or to me.

    Like Farmhousefan, I know a couple of folks who have done McKenzie and it has helped them. I don't know to what level their disc is injured though. As you know a herniated disc can vary as to how much, where, what kind of tear if there is one. Certain mechanical movements will create pain in each person and maybe not in the other.

  • >:D< Jenna, I'm sorry you are in so much pain. Or actually u should be feeling better cuz yu already had your surgery. Talking bout the negative and positive stuff. That is waht I am thinking about lately. Will the surgery work? Will t he nerve damamge be so severe that the surgery wont take care of it? I am having a spinal fusion with intruments I think it was. L/5-S/1 I know 2 people who have had back surgery. They turned out fine. The nerve damage scares me though. I get most my pain from the nerves being pinched. Good luck. to you. ;)
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