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Going in for Microdiscectomy

scaredofsurgerysscaredofsurgery Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all, I saw my surgeon yesterday and we discussed me going in for a micro for L5-S1. The surgery wont be until Mid August, but I am starting aquatic therapy today. I am so excited about getting in a pool and feeling some relief for a change. Has anyone here had a micro done? If so, what was your recovery time? And how are you feeling now that its done?
Any replies are always welcome. And I hope everyone finds relief soon.


  • I had mine in may,and i was in pain for about a week,and then back to my old back pain,but it did help my leg pain a little and i still have some bad pain,it will not help back pain at all cause its a leg procedure.
  • Did you mainly have leg pain? Did you have any shooting pain that went into your toes, numbness etc?
    I am doing physical therapy now to get stronger. My surgeon is Fellowship trained and is very well known. My therapist gives him top reviews. What kind of doctor did your surgery, was he/she fellowhship trained? And out of curiousity, how long was your physical therapy afterwards or are you still going?
  • I had two of them.
    1st took about a month to get "normal."
    2nd took a much much longer amount of time.
    It depends on the type of microdiscectomy, as there are different kinds.

    Feeling pretty damn good. I have occasional bad days however. This past Monday was bad. Could barely walk around; I musta slept on it wrong or sumpin. Climbed into my home traction table and distracted the lower back. Back to normal now.

    btw, my surgeons are also big fans of aquatic therapy.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • My Micro will be on L5-S1. Theres a large herniation there. The surgeon told me that he has to remove a tiny piece of bone on either side of the herniation (not a Laminectomy). Do you remember how long your surgery was? My surgeon told me takes about 45 min. And the recovery is about 4hours. He said they get your right up to walk after recovery. What was your experience coming out of surgery? Alot of pain in the surgical site?
  • Understand that every case is different, so my experiences are unique.

    The 1st surgery itself(at L4-L5) lasted, oh I don't know, around an hour I'm guessing. With me, they did local anesthesia and mild I.V. sedation, so I don't remember much. Post-op was about 3 hours. Pre-op was an hour or two.

    I woke up free of pain and KNEW the problem was fixed. I gotta admit, I cried from hapiness.
    It is not uncommon for patients to experience strong emotions post-operatively.*
    After about 3 hours of recovery, I did in fact, get out of bed under my own power and walk out of the surgery center. It was great! We went to the nearest restaurant and had dinner.

    My L5-S1 surgery was different. I went in at 9am. After, woke up in a bunch of pain but they injected me with some good stuff (LOL).
    This time I was not emotional at all.
    I was discharged at 1pm. I wasn't feeling real real confident, so I was wheel-chaired out.

    *also normal, is the "honeymoon" period immediately following surgery. Right before the surgeon closes the incision, they dump a bunch of meds in there to ward off infection and pain. The meds can mask pain generators so the patient feels really good. He or she should still take it easy.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Sorry to tell you this, but I had a micro-D over 2 years ago and never recovered. Pain everyday since, sometimes really bad. My Doctor told me 6 weeks recovery, and I believed him. Looking back I do not think that is what I needed. I would not have surgery if I had to do it agian. I would have tried yoga, chiro,
    I did PT for 2 months. and waited 2 years before having the surgery..

    Good luck to you, I hope your surgery and recovery goes well..'

    Phoenix Tears.
  • scaredofsurgery, have you explored possibilities and all the advantages of minimally-invasive approach?
  • Hi there,

    Hopefully my experience will help.
    I herniated a large chunk of disc. The day it happened, I could not get out of bed despite trying for 10 hours (I'm thick headed), the pain was excruciating. After a visit to the ER and some drugs, everwhere I hurt, was numb.

    I had lost feeling in my left buttocks, perineum, back thigh and left heel to outer toe.

    I am a conservative person. They tried a double dose steroid pack (Medroldose?) but I was more than 1/2way through and no change. I asked them about an ESI (Epidural injection) but for my situation it has a very low chance of helping. Why? B/c I had lost so much feeling and strength so quickly that they were concerned nerve problems would start impacting my bladdar. So after 2 doctor opinions, I did opt for the Microdiscectomy on L5-S1. It was a 1.5 hour surgery (45 mins of actual surgery time) and in theory 'out patient', meaning if I was an 8am surgery, I probably would have gone home by 6 or 8pm that night. But since my surgery was scheduled for 3pm, I stayed over which was actualy better.

    I woke up feeling vibrations on my legs only to realize they had these circulators on them. I felt pretty good, no pain, no nauseau. They had me get up about 2 hours after I came out of surgery. They showed me how to log role out of the bed to keep my shoulders and hips aligned. I was sore but nothing unmanageable. It felt like someone hit me across the back and I had to ask how big the incision was b/c I felt like it was bigger than they told me based on how large the 'pain' area was.

    Well, aside from my low blood pressure issues, I was fine getting up every couple of hours so the next day, the PT person walked me around the halls to be sure I was stable on my feet. She showed me how to go up and down stairs (I had a weak leg from before the surgery) and I was sent home with Percaset and Valium. I would say I was sore for a week and then by week 2, better.

    I will tell you that I didn't get much relief and after the 2nd week, wasn't sure why I had the surgery. I asked the doctor and he said it was just that I was recovering slowly. (I'll come back to this).

    For recovery - get a gripper. The key key key thing is that you do not bend, twist, or lift for at least 6 weeks (up to 3months) b/c your body needs to heal. You will start feeling good about week 2 but don't forget the rules. This isn't like an injury where you 'push through'. Follow doctors orders. I found I felt good at week 2 and figured I could empty the dishwasher as long as I didn't bend but even the slight bending wasn't good for me. I also drove after week 2 b/c I had come off all meds. I think I overdid it.

    Anyhow, after not getting better, I finally convinced the doctor to do another MRI and sure enough I had lost anohter piece of disc.

    So....I had the choice of fusion or revision MicroD.
    I opted for revision MicroD and so far am doing generally good. The 2nd surgery was MUCH better than the first. I used a Neurosurgeon on the 2nd surgery. I don't really have any insight on OrthoSpine vs. NS but yes, you want them to be fellowship trained. You have to feel comfortable wiht the doctor. Before the 2nd surgery, I met 7 doctors before finding one that I felt would be best for me now and if I needed him in the future.

    The 2nd surgery took longer b/c I had scar tissue build up but it went well. I actually didn't even need pain meds except for the ride home and 1X/day for the first week. I was ultra careful on the 2nd recovery b/c I knew that if it didn't work, I'd be facing a 3rd surgery.

    I'm 5 months out and considering how bad I was, I have to say I'm getting back to living.

    The recovery: Walking daily every 1.5 hours (not long, but about 10-15 mins) starting pretty much immediately after the surgery. It helps keep scar tissue from tethering to the nerve. No sitting except for meals. I started PT after my 6 week appt and while some doctors say you may not need it, I think it's very valuable b/c they taught me how to stretch with regards to my back surgery. I went to PT for about 6 weeks (2X/week for 3 weeks; 3X/week for 3 weeks) and then have been trying to continue on my own. I am making sure I walk daily. At work I have a desk job so I have a standing and sitting workstaion. I drink lots of water to make sure I get up frequently to walk around.

    These surgeries have a high success rate.
    The failures are generally b/c people re-herniate in the 1st 3 months OR because there is a piece of disc out of the surgeon's view.

    The surgery was scary for me b/c I had never had surgery. But the 2nd surgery was less scary b/c I knew what to expect and quite frankly I had time to make a decision that I was comfortable with vs. the first surgery which was more urgent so I didn't have as much time to prep for it.

    I'm not a doctor but if you have any questions, feel free to PM me. I try to stop on here a few times a week.

    I had my first surgery Aug 09 and the revision in Feb 10. I'm not 100% but lower backs are all about patience and keeping your core strong. I'm pleased with the 2nd surgery so far but I also am realistic that I have to continue to do the stretches, core toning, and walking.

    Good luck, you will do fine!
  • Almost a year ago today, I injured my back. I had a very large disc extrusion at L5-S1. My only symptoms were terrible pain in my left buttocks and a small area of numbness there. At first I was able to live with it but was unable to sit at all. If I tried the pain would build and build. But eventually, the pain happened if I was standing. In a months time I was flat on my back(or stomach!). The pain went away completely if I laid down. Now unable to do anything and having only dealt with my family physician who didn't have a clue to the extent of my injury, I went and saw a neurosurgeon. One look at my MRI and the decision to do a discectomy was made. I saw him on a Friday and had surgery the next Tuesday(August 11th, 2009)! I was so lucky to get in so quickly. He went in though the left side of my vertebrae and made a little "window" to reach the herniation. He trimmed off the herniated portion of disc that was displacing the nerve. After surgery I was very stiff and sore, but out of bed within a couple hours to use the bathroom. After the morphine IV they tried transitioning me to oral pain meds, but one Valium convinced me that they weren't for me....the wallpaper in the room was scrolling up the wall!! I never took another pain pill. I felt like crap for the first week, but forced myself to take short walks, shuffling around the yard! I had immediate relief from the pain....all gone. But I was not symptom free. I had a tingling sensation in my butt still and it was still numb. I was told it can take 6-12 months for the nerve to heal and they were right. It has now been 11 months since surgery and slowing over that time the funny feeling in my butt has pretty much disappeared. There is still a bit of numbness. But I am pain free!!! I work at a horse farm and went back to work in one month, probably a little too soon, but I took it easy and didn't lift anything heavy. I was in good shape prior to the injury though. I read alot of bad stories on here, so when I saw your question I wanted to let you know that there are success stories! Also, I never went to physical therapy after surgery. Best wishes to you!
  • I would agree with much of what DNice said. I'm 5 weeks post micro-d and I'm feeling pretty great actually, I have very little leg pain. Most of my pain is from the traumatized muscles around the incision area. I have a bulge there that the surgeon said should go away in a few months but it's been the source of most of the discomfort after surgery. I'm well enough at this point that I'm doing 12 mile bike rides with a modified handle bar to reduce the angle at the lower back.

    As far as the op itself goes, I was very scared and anxious to physically go through it but it was the least scary part. They stuck the iv in and I was out in 40sec, the whole operation was a complete black out I felt and knew nothing. The hard part was the recovery and the days to follow. I said hard but I would say nothing that registered very high on the pain scale just inconvenience from being stuck in bed and not able to move. The muscles at the incision site would lock up at the slightest move and it was hard to get comfortable in any position for very long. I only took maybe 5 or 6 percocets in total so really not painful, I think i needed muscle relaxants more but I was never prescribed for that.

    I'm probably one of the milder cases here, my pain wasn't excruciating but it was limiting my active life. They say the more nerve damage/compression there is the longer it takes for the nerves to recover. I still have some mild pain and tingling in my leg but it's much better. The success rate of micro-d is 90-95% according to my surgeon but it would be hard to get that sense by reading this forum unfortunately. Best wishes to you and everybody here.

  • Just read your post of July 9.(almost could have been mine!)

    I had a Microdiscectomy on L5-S1 18 weeks ago.
    The procedure was 45 mins long, also involved cutting some bone (for access to the nerve), and I was up and about after 2 hours. Instant pain relief, no medication, residual aching / tingling / numbness in my ankle and foot, which has now diminished to the point that I hardly notice it.

    Walking is best; I was walking up to 5 miles a day after Day 4, and your PT will also show you how to keep the nerve mobilised in order to reduce the risk of perineural fibrosis (scar tissue attaching to it). You also will be shown how to strengthen the core muscles to help prevent future problems.

    Understand you are a bit scared, and some of the posts you read may add to your apprehension. But remember this forum is a support group for people to share their experiences, and my view is that there are not many success stories being posted, and what you are reading is not representative. The procedure has a 90% success rate, and naturally the 10% are sharing their experiences here to provide mutual support. (markf is correct). The reason I post from time to time, is to help provide a balanced view.

    I count myself as being in the 90%, and you could be too. Let us know how you get on.
    Good luck!

  • Gilberto...so true!
    I try to let folks know I have met at least 3-5 people (in my personal life, not this forum) that have had MicroD's and have been successful for anywhere from 2 years up to 10+ years.

    So you are right, the success is there.

    I think it's just a matter of personal opinion on whether or not to get the surgery...of course based on input from the medical community.

    Great post.
  • Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, as I am due to have a C6-C7 ACDF next week and am in a panic. I am an avid exerciser and constantly active. About 6 months ago, I was feeling intermittent pain in my left shoulder and when I would lie on the floor to stretch, I would feel pins and needles going down my left arm. My job is extremely demanding, both physically and mentally. My last day of work occurred two days after I sought chiropractic care. The provider used high velocity neck manipulation, despite suspecting a C6-C7 disc herniation with radiculopathy. Since then, I have had constant pain in my neck, which radiates down the middle of my back. I also had complete numbness of my thumb and index finger. I have tried 5 weeks of PT, antiinflammatories, rest, ice, epidural steroid injections, stretching, manual manipulation and tons of traction, etc. The only thing that takes the edge off is Vicodin, but I can't take that at my job. Some of my symptoms have subsided, such as the complete numbness and I now have tingling in my arm and first three fingers most of the time, constant pain in my neck and mid-back and pretty significant loss in range of motion of my neck and some loss of strenth in my left arm. With reading or certain positions, I do have arm pain, but not constant. It seems like you hardly get any time with the neurosurgeon, but I have asked the questions (like about my main symptom not being extreme arm pain, but most intolerable is the neck pain and tingling). He seems confident that I will be totally back to normal in no time. He states that he has had people go back to playing football, doing surgery, etc. Of course, this sounds great after dealing with this for so long. I want to get back to living, instead of being consumed with everything that goes with these injuries. I need any feedback that I can get regarding any similar experience and positive outcome. I am so afraid to make a detrimental mistake. Reading everyone's posts has gotten me through a lot of sadness. There are some very strong people out there. This is my first post. Thanks.
  • 1st you would do better starting a new post for yourself, it makes it easier for other members to notice it, so people who can relate to your issues can reply.

    i had 2 cervical fusions done years ago, and i have a physical job, i trusted my neuro. and i have absoulutly no regrets, everything worked out great for me.

    i had all of your symptons, and they were all elimanated, after the surgery. you just have to let the doctor know your fears, and you have to trust the doctor to be able to fix your problems.

    take care and keep posting, my best to you.
  • Yeah, I really did not know what I was doing. I came home from the neuro feeling totally overwhelmed and decided to write my first post for any positive feedback. I really appreciate the response. I'm glad to hear yours worked out well. My surgery is one week from tomorrow. I keep trying to replace fear with positive thoughts of getting my life back. My family is so supportive, but of course it helps to hear it from someone who has gone through it. Again, I appreciate your response and am sure I will have lots of time after next week to say how it went. By the way, please tell me it helped your neck pain, because mine is getting unbearable!!!
  • Liz, I don't know if you can, but I found it helpful to visit and tour the actual surgery center and operating room itself beforehand.

    On the actual day of surgery, it was one less thing to be nervous about.

    Goodluck and let us know how it goes when you are ready.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • yup, it got rid of all my neck pain also.
    i remember it well, you sit there and cant do anything to get rid of the pain, pre surgical, but post surgical i was pain free from all the symptons.

    then you just have to deal with the healing process, which is shorter then dealing with a lumbar fusion.

    by the way the neuro who did my surgeries for my cervical, well i used the same neuro for my lumbar surgery.
    also with my cervical they did the surgery from the front of my neck.

    take care and relax, and believe everything will be fine, whenever you need to vent there is always someone here to listen.
  • I just made the decision yesterday to have a micro-D done after horrible leg pain and work put restrictions on me. I've had it done once already in 2000 and turned out really well no problems for about 8-9 years. Can't wait until it is over.
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