Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Worried my microdiscectomy has failed--please advise

tabletopjoettabletopjoe Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm 35, in fairly decent shape and had a microdiscectomy for a very large L5/S1 herniation back on 8/4. For the first few days, my leg pain was totally gone. Then, it began coming back. I noticed it most when I would get up from laying down. Definitely nowhere near the severity prior to the surgery, but troubling to have it resolved and then return. After walking around for a bit, it seems to go away until the next time I get up.

My doc said no PT until after my first follow-up (a month from surgery). I've read a lot of people on here who started much sooner.

I've had very limited mobility in my left leg from the herniation for nearly 4 months, so it's been a long time since I could fully extend my leg in a normal stride while walking. Should I be doing the 'hamstring glide' exercises from PT at least?

I've read a lot of stories on here of people finding their symptoms fully resolved after surgery, and I'm really worried that mine came back after only a few days. I'm pretty sure that I haven't reherniated my disc as I've been extremely careful. I had been walking up to a total of 2 miles (total, not all at once) throughout the day, but the nurse told me that I was overdoing it when I called and attributed that to the return of my pain. I've since dialed things back quite a bit and it seems to have had no positive effect on the pain.

So am I one of those people destined to have leg pain for the rest of my life or is this just part of the healing process? I'm also worried about what I've read about potential scarring of that region and don't want to encourage that by being too inactive. Anyone have any suggestions for me out there? They'd be greatly appreciated.


  • Welcome to spine-health and to the other side of surgery.

    I completely feel your pain and frustration as I am 5 weeks out from a 2 level discectomy/laminectomy L4-S1. You are very early in recovery. Nerves are very agrivated during surgery and take a long time to heal after surgery, especially the longer they have been compressed before surgery.

    Do you have any nerve damage (numbness tingling)?Is it burning, sharp pain, does it go all the way down your leg? Do you also have back, butt, hip pain?

    I was told at my 5 week check up that I am still not to start physio, to just keep walking for now, and we will re visit the option in a couple of weeks.

    I would ask your doctor about the "hamstring glide"

    Sounds like you are doing everything right, by being careful and walking. Keep it up.

    Please keep us updated on how you are doing.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Or tingling to speak of. If I'd woken up from surgery with this degree of pain I would be so worried. It frightens me that for the first three or four days after, I had no pain in my leg at all. The pain for the most part is a pinching in the back of my leg, mostly above the knee. Prior to surgery, the pain was very intense in my butt and that would radiate down from there.

    I'm also getting muscle twitches in my calf And the muscle there sometimes feels tight. When I awoke from surgery, that too wasn't the case. One of the first things I noticed was how 'free' moving my foot around felt. Just seems strange it would improve and then go back to this and I don't know how bad it'll get from here.
  • Hi Joe! I know you are worried and that is so understandable!

    Are you taking any meds for nerve pain such as Lyrica, Neurontin or Cymbalta? It makes a huge difference.

    Often surgeons will put some steroids/meds on the damaged nerves after they untrap them and before they sew you back up. It helps with the pain coming out of surgery, but wears off quickly, this could be what you are experiencing.

    Surgeons have very different opinions re when and if to start PT. My former surgeon starts you out with PT right away. I am having a different surgeon for this surgery and he doesn't. He wants you to walk but that is it.

    I don't know.....I did everything right and by the book after my fusion but 2 months post op I blew out the level above. :(

    Hang in there. It is still so early in your recovery and nerves get angry about being trapped but they usually settle down with time. I am now having calf buring pain since my myelogram one week ago. Praying it settles down!

    Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.
  • Appreciate the response. I wish you a speedy recovery as well. Spoke with the office today and they're going to do an MRI on Friday if it doesn't settle down by then. Can't imagine I re-herniated but who knows. I've been reading about piriformis syndrome--how that muscle can irritate the nerve. It somewha makes sese to me that it could be the culprit as the muscles on the sides of my hips have felt really weak and sore when im walking or laying on one side for long. Not sure if there's a link there or not.

    I've been taking neurotin since before the surgery but haven't seen any real benefit as of yet.
  • Hi there...I didn't read everyone's replies but can offer some insight.

    My experience was PT wasn't to start until 6-weeks post op. Until then, walk in 10-15 min increments several times daily to keep scar tissue off the nerves.

    The other thing, is as you heal and are more active, you can be having inflammation. Has your doctor spoken to you about trying a steroid (medrol) pack or prednisone to make sure it's not surgical inflammation?

    I was a failed MD but I never got any relief but I also never had an 'incident' that would make the doctors worry. That being said, we 'stayed the course' for 6 weeks. Part of this was because an MRI so quickly (with and without contrast) would be better if we could wait for the 3-month post op point.

    So, where does that leave you?
    - Talk to your doctor about your concerns
    - Log/journal what you are doing/activity vs. how you feel and what it takes to get the pain levels down.
    - At the next appt (6-weeks) tell the surgeon you are worried. If he says, don't worry, politely thank him but tell ask him what the game plan is. If it's wait and see, tell him you need more than that.
    I actually told my surgeon, I would be mad at myself if I left his office without setting a deadline on when we'd re-MRI. I asked him how long should I try PT for before we re-MRI? I asked why not reMRI at the beginning to make sure I wasn't doing more damage. I did get agreement at 10-week post op which was between my 6-week mark and his 3-months post op. I had re-herniated(or there was a piece left behind).
  • Hi, I returned home yesterdsy from surgery to remove a really bad herniation on L5S1. Pre-surgical symptoms are totally gone right now but like others have posted, it is because the surgeon coats the effected nerve with steroids which makes it feel better post-op but I was warned it could wear off in a few days to a week and nerve pain can return as the nerve will only heal a half to a full inch a month so if you imagine it runs from your foot to who knows where, that could take a long time to heal. Surgeon said it all depends on how damanged your nerve was and it can take months to a year for the nerve to full heal after surgery. So, please have hope that this is part of the healing process and ask your doctor if you are unsure of anything.

    My surgeon also does not advise PT until after my follow up with him-around 3 weeks post op.

    Please dont let you get this down, I pray it gets better for you.
  • Hey guys!

    I'm just over a week out from my (this should sound familiar) microdiscectomy of a massive L5-S1 herniation. I was hoping to follow up with Joe and anyone else who had the heart-wrenching panic-attack of feeling their leg-pain return acutely about a week after surgery a few months ago.

    That is (shocker, I know) exactly what happened to me this morning. The pain is about 1/2-2/3 of what I was experiencing at its peak, and I've continued to take Gabapentin (primarily because the numbness in my right foot never went away completely after surgery), though potentially not regularly enough to have an effect on the nerve. I'll probably start taking some of the pain medicine again next week, but I'm reluctant to start, partially because I want to toast in the New Year tonight, but primarily because I'm not allowed to drive while on Percoset and can't get to work any other way, and frankly the narcotics were never that effective anyway.

    I've been walking a lot - at least an hour a day, sometimes more (doctor said walking was unlimited), but no PT. And I've probably sat more than I should have, so I was terrified that I'd reinjured myself.

    Anyway - I would be incredibly grateful for any reality-checks from those who went before me - especially because I have a knack of injuring myself right before 3-day weekends, so it'll be awhile before I can get help from anyone on my end.

    Happy New Year - hope it's feeling like a fresh-start for all of you right now!

  • hi there, you are doing a lot of walking for a week or so out of surgery. In one breath, I say good for you. In the other breath, just be sure you are on relatively flat surfaces and not doing too many hills.

    As you have higher activity and the surgical numbing medication wears off, you'll get more pain.

    Remember to take it easy. Back surgeries are not like others. When you start hurting, take it a little easier. If you want to walk an hour, split it up into 4 15 min intervals.

    If you are still hurting, have you tried icing your back? Not sure if it's ok b/c you are so soon out of surgery so be sure to check with the doctor or make sure you have cloth to protect the incision.
  • it sounds like all of you guys are doing really well ! I wish I was doing as well. I had a microdiscectomy 8 1/2 weeks ago and I still can't walk more than 100 feet or stand up for more than 5 minutes. I've been doing PT for 4 weeks and it doesn't seem to be helping. I'm very worried that I'll be crippled for life ! When will this nerve ever heal ? Also, I've been favoring my good side and my spine is so out of whack that I have some major scoliosis going on.
  • Sorry to hear that you are having problems 8 1/2 weeks from your surgery. The last post I did on this thread, I was 5 1/2 weeks out.

    I still was not doing well at all a couple of weeks later, so asked my doctor for a new MRI. I had a reherniation and my disc was full of scar and collapsed. I am now seeing a new surgeon and will be having an ADR at L5/S1 in 5 weeks. I am 6 months post op from the discectomy/lami.

    Keep letting your doctor know how you feel and see if you can have a new MRI to see how things are going. Nerves do take a really long time to heal, depending how long they were impinged and how badly.

    Wishing you all the best, hope that things get better for you. Please keep us updated.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • I am 39 yo male. I had a large herniation l4-l5 from construction site accident 8/9/11. Had hemilaminectomy/ discectomy 3/1/12. I was suffering from severe butt ,leg , and foot pain. I was doing great after surgery...except for some new numbness on front of thigh and occasional burning in same spot on front of thigh. About a week ago the sciatic pain came back. Every day it gets worse...I am taking neurotin, hydrocodone, and now a medrol dose pack . I am nearly in as much pain as before. The pain is in my butt and calf. I can't walk now for more than 5 minutes...sitting is almost impossible. I went to doc two days ago and he said if I reherniated it I would be way worse than before surgery. Help! I am also having a problem getting pain under control. Surgeon switched me from oxycodone to hydrocodone a week after surgery...which was fine but my last visit he put me on the neurotin 300mg 3 x day and didn't refill my hydrocodone...the neurotin doesn't do much so I called and got hydro refilled but it seems like they are very hesitant to give pain meds. The hyrocodone isn't touching the pain at all but I'm worried he's gonna think im a junky if I call again and ask for something stronger...I hate this
  • edited 09/02/2012 - 2:42 AM
    I got injured back in Feb of this year and felt this bad tear pain in my lower back at work so off to the ER I went. They did the basic x rays, pain meds, and see a specialist if problems continue. They did and my employer sent me to see a SPORTS MEDICINCE doctor with NO history I could find about if he was trained with backs. Plus he was pretty young so I am guessing he is pretty new to being a doctor and is all Sports Medicine. I got 3 different diagnosis from him in a 1 month period as things were getting worse. Bad lower back pain and massive spasms in one of my legs at night and never had one in the other. When I say bad I mean bad I literally felt I had to push down on my foot and felt my ankle crack so I could walk them off and I was like a fish out of water. I fell into my closet doors during these, cut my head falling into a door jamb, cuts on my body from falling, etc.

    He gave me prescription ibuprofen and muscle relaxers which I had horrible side effects from. I stopped the muscle relaxers and all side effects went away, but he said I had ulcers and not side effects despite me telling him once I stopped taking them symptoms went away. He did not want to do an MRI despite things getting worse and a history of herniating l4 & l5 saying it was not necessary. PT was excruciating and I went to see him for a back problem and he wanted to treat me for ulcers (never and still do not have any stomach problems) so needless to say I found a new doctor after it got so bad I had to go back to ER again.

    I called my GP and he immediately ordered an MRI and referred me to an ortho surgeon to speed things up. Stupid me remembers this 6 months later that my GP called when the results came in telling me I had some bulging discs. When I seen the back surgeon he told me my MRI was fine, gave me a cortisone shot and PT resumed and MORE pain. Then I got an epidural, pain continued. I remember the surgeons exact words " I am a surgeon and if their was something inside he could fix he would" and this was about a month after seeing him. My GP said let's try some Gabapentin and see what happens and it was a miracle med for the spasms and never had one again. For the back pain it did nothing. Back doctor said he wanted to really go over my lumbar MRI and came back and said he did find a very tiny herniation that was so small that is how it was overlooked but said that could not be the problem because with the time that has past it would have healed it was so small.

    Back surgeon ordered up another MRI a level up to see if the problem was up their and it came back perfect. Then I got the shock of my life after seeing him for almost 3 months when he took me and showed me my Lumbar MRI. Not a clue what I was looking at but he then told me about a bulging disc (just 1 he pointed at). Back to the exam room and told me some options. Live with this back pain for 2 to 3 years or he could do a microdisectomy , 2 weeks of doing nothing, 4 weeks of PT, and 4 weeks of work reconditioning (I have an extremely demanding and heavy lifting job).

    It sounded like a no brainier after he explained SOME of the risk factors which I later found out through research their we're many more. All went good the first 2 weeks and pain resumed with light stretches they told me to do until PT and start walking. Stretches started pain immediately so i called the doctor and was told to stop them and just walk, which i did stop them and just walked everyday as told. About 5 to 6 days later I awoke in excruciating pain and could not get out of. bed so off to the ER again where I collapsed in pain which got me a 2 day stay on steroids and morphine. Another MRI and he said all was perfect and seen him 2 weeks later telling him pain was still present and something was not right which he dismissed saying all was good. I told him I was having frequent urination, bed wetting at night, and could not get an erection. He sent me to a Urologist which said it was all connected to my back after the test he ran. So how could all be fine with new problems developing???

    PT and car rides are excruciating and now these new problems also turned into more new problems. Excruciating pain now radiating all over. Going up into shoulder blades, into hips, occasional groin wrap arounds, weak legs, numb calves tingly feet. Any uncontrolled movement triggers pain, cannot fall asleep, wake 1 to 2 times a night in pain, and can barely walk now. So i basically walk on egg shells thinking about any move i make, but i make mistakes ans pain shoots through me somewhere, which follows no rhyme or reason where it will go. Their wonderful pain management wants me to wean off the Norco to zero for 30 days to see where my pain level is at. It's at an 8 to 10 now so do they have some different pain number higher then 10???? To me that is sadistic to wean me off a med I now take 4 which gives me SLIGHT RELIEF, but something is better than nothing. Now i basically live in a chair, walk as much as I can to keep my legs strong, bathroom is on 2nd floor which i go to MANY times a day from the urge to urinate non stop. Getting out consist of going on my deck and to doctors and car rides are excruciating pain. I do wear a TENS unit that helps from the second I wake up until I go to sleep. I tried sleeping with it on but falling asleep is hard enough and have to turn it down from what I set it at in the day seems to do nothing so I do not wear it at night anymore.

    Now I got another opinion from a Nero Surgeon and he says I probably need a fusion and go for a mylogram for confirmation. How did all this turn from back pain and now a possible fusion?

    I read criteria for a microdisectomy and it said shooting leg pains, herniated disc that will not heal with conventional care, loss of bowel and bladder function, and trauma. I NEVER HAD ANY OF THOSE!!!!! I now have a ton of problems now after the surgery with things getting worse by the day it seems.

    Why did this surgeon NEVER tell me any of these things and keep this from me and I did not have a new MRI before surgery and he sprung this microdisectomy surgery option right at about 3 months of seeing me from my MRI 3 months prior. Did these disc bulges just fall out of the sky and onto my MRI reports which I had to get for my second opinion. He says all is fine but a Nero Surgeon wants a test for confirmation to see if I need a fusion now. One is right and one is wrong but with all the new problems I have to steer towards the Nero being correct saying their is a problem.

    Pain management doc did a bunch of tests on me to and their diagnosis is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. Then they expect me to go 30 days without pain medication to see where my pain level is at knowing a Nero thinks I need a Fusion, to me that is sadistic with the pain I am in. What I currentltly take is not that effective but it does help a little. Something is better than nothing I look at it, but 30 days of not getting any slight relief I feel is impossible. I have a high tolerance for pain I feel, but this no way. Then they want to put me on very, very strong pain meds extended release and an immediate release. But go for 30 days on nothing and tell us where my pain level is when it's at an 8 to a 10 already. Anyone have any reasoning on that one? I have never abused medications and was always chasing the pain despite taking them to stay ahead of it. They can see my history of what I was prescribed because they are all computerized so none of this makes sense to me.

    I did a lot of research after the fact and if I had no leg pain, herniated disc, etc why did he do this surgery??? I had spasms which were controlled by medication pain was bad but nothing like this. No where near this !!!! Why did he hold back not telling me anything I wonder??? I do not know 99% of what the MRI report means but the l4L5 is states disc bulge in both and it states L5S1 bulge in the first but in the after surgery talks about the changes he did to me.

    This is a bad dream I just cannot wake up from and is a total mess.

    Anyone have a clue why he did this surgery to me? Would have held back the MRI findings? Oh yeah I forgot. I looked at my last visit summary and he has in it herniated disc and no mention from the Nero on me having one before surgery. Also from what I read microdisectomies are for leg pain and do nothing for back pain. I read all over. "For back pain you must first find the underlying cause". Is that correct? I NEVER had radiating leg pain just spasms controlled by medications working perfect.

    Any advise would help because I am totally lost and getting worse. Also any other problems can I expect to get? Everyday I just live in pain and keep putting off going to the ER but I feel that day coming soon because yesterday was pretty close. I have been up since 3:00 AM because of my kind awakening of pain.
  • Hi all,

    Thanks for all your previous posts, it's good to know that other people have experienced the same issues that I am currently experiencing and I now hope that you’ve all made a full recovery.

    I've recently had a microdisectomy for a large prolapsed disc, central right of my L4/L5 ( on the 21st of July 2014). I’ve been suffering with sciatic nerve pain in my right buttock for around 9 months, which over the final couple of months moved around to my left side and back whilst the sensation would also spread down my right leg.

    The first 5 days post surgery I felt great. The pain vanished completely but unfortunately returned after around 5-6 days. The pain returned deep within my right buttock (piriformis area) but this pain has continued to intensify over the last couple of weeks, spreading onto the outer and upper side of my buttock. I spoke with my contact at the hospital who has suggested that I may have been over doing the walks (I had built up to 30min walks and can complete 5-6km daily). I’m therefore in the process of resting with only very short walks every 30 minutes or so around my house to see how i react. I have also been told that I should not do any physiotherapy or core strengthening until I see my surgeon again, which is scheduled for the 25th of September (9.5weeks post surgery).

    As everyone’s comment on here seem to be a couple of years old, and as you all seem to have gone through what I am currently experiencing, please could you confirm the long term outcome of your surgery.

    Did the pain that returned post surgery gradually disappear? If so how long did this process take?
    When did you start physiotherapy/PT?

    Any comments or advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for your time,
    Cheers Peter
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    This is a very old thread, for best support and information I suggest you make a new thread in introductions, you can do this by clicking on 'create forum post' on the left column.


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery

  • BrentB66 said:

    it sounds like all of you guys are doing really well ! I wish I was doing as well. I had a microdiscectomy 8 1/2 weeks ago and I still can't walk more than 100 feet or stand up for more than 5 minutes. I've been doing PT for 4 weeks and it doesn't seem to be helping. I'm very worried that I'll be crippled for life ! When will this nerve ever heal ? Also, I've been favoring my good side and my spine is so out of whack that I have some major scoliosis going on.

    Hi Brent - I am similar after 3 weeks post op on L5 Disc.. I wanted to check in hoe you are doing now and offer me some hope?
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.