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How do I know my discectomy worked/was successful?

kticknorkkticknor Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello..I am two months post-discectomy (l4/l5). I wasn't laid up in bed before, but the worst of it was my sciatic pain in left leg). I am functioning pretty much like I was pre-surgery. I started PT about a month after surgery. Finally two to three weeks after PT I started to notice very sligh improvement, but it was encouraging. Now two months after surgery, I am experiencing sciatic leg pain, mainly when I stand. It's very unconfortable and painful, and I am taking Aleve for the past three days (day and night). I try not to take it and then I am very unfortable and irritable. I haven't done anything different to hurt my back..just stretching like PT told me to, doing some core exercises to strengthen core (PT twice a week and the rest at home). I am discouraged and wondering what is causing my leg pain again. Wondering if surgery did what it was supposed to? OR something else happened. I didn't feel amazingly different post-surgery like I have read some people do.... but I thought I was starting to see (very slow) results..which was encouraging. Now I don't know. I want to get another MRI so at least I know what is causing the pain. My PT says my doc probably won't order it because it's only been two months since surgery...but my question is...how do they know what is causing the pain unless they can see it in MRI. Anyone else had this experience with increase sciatic pain suddenly a while after surgery..and if so... do you still have it..what did you do about it...etc. TKS! k


  • Hiya, Welcome to spine Health, there are many members here who have had simular surgery . We can not give medical advice here, but we can tell you about our own experiences. I had a disctectomy a few years back ,after the operation the sciatic pain down my right leg instantly. With this kind of operation its major surgery, and the healing starts from the outside inwards (this is what i was told at the hospital). Its only two months after surgery, so its still early days for you. dont do anything to agrevate your back, even stress can make it worse, as when your stressed your spine tenses up and this may increase your pain. You still need to be taking things very easy, do your PT and nothing more at the moment. As for the leg pain , if its raidiating down your leg its sciatic pain, so this means theres a nerve catching. This can happen after a disctectomy, because everything needs to calm down! When they operate they have to move all the nerves to one side to get to the discs, you are still probably swollen inside. After i had my disctectomy i was told to only sit for 20 minutes a day, and had to do this for 6 months. Remember everyone heals at different rates. Your surgeon will most likely order another MRI scan further down the line, just to see how this look! I hope this helps! I hope you like the site !

    Angie xx
  • My 2-cents worth...you are 8-weeks post op. At about week 10-12, if you are still not feeling any different, tell your surgeon your concern and tell him you need peace of mind and would like an MRI.

    I had a bad herniation. I had a MicroDiscectomy and only felt 'ok' for about 10 days post op and then really felt worse than before the surgery. At week 6 my surgeon told me I was just progressing more slowly than most and he put me on prednisone to see if my issues were due to inflammation from the surgery. They were not. The prednisone didn't do anything.

    I had a follow up at week 10 and he was ready to send me on my way and tell me "just be patient". I told him I wasn't comfortable leaving there not knowing. I told him I couldn't stand for more than 5 mins without being in pain, I couldn't sit for more than 10 mins without being in pain. I explained that I would be really upset with myself if I didn't get the MRI at week 10 and then found out 6 months later, I had reherniated and wasted valuable time with my nerve being compressed.

    I re-herniated.

    Just so you know, unless you did something for sure (fell, tripped, etc), most doctors want to wait for that 3 month mark so they can more easily tell between scar tissue and reherniation.

    So my advice? At week 10 if you still feel this way, pay a visit to the surgeon.
  • When I had my microdiscectomy on L5-S1, I was in massive post-op pain. I mean it was bad. I thought for sure I had reherniated. For 4 weeks, I lay in bed, unable to stand up very much, or walk, or much of anything.

    I desperately wanted another MRI but did not want to hear the "give it time" or "be patient" excuse, so I kept quiet.

    Finally, at week 4, I'd had enough, reached out to my surgeon, and asked to come back in to be seen. He said "come on in and let's see what's going on."

    We tried an ESI. (Epidural steroidal injection)
    It wasn't until the 3rd day that I felt the pain start to go away. By day 7 I was pain-free.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Paul...thanks for sharing. It is often times the doctor knows patients all recover differently. it seems the doctors know this and don't want to create a panic. But like you said...if you feel as if you've had enough and your family members are telling you the same...call the doctor.

    I should have listened to my husband and really called the doctor at 5-weeks post op when I was crying on the couch in pain. After my 2nd surgery, I'm a different person. I have so much improvement. I have my bad days but none have lasted more than 3 days.

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