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

L4/L5 Microdiscectomy / Bilateral Laminectomy Post and Pre-Op Journal

flounderfflounder Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
L4/L5 Microdiscetomy on 12/13/2011. Post and Pre-Op information on my condition

My name is Mike and i am 34 yrs old. There is a lot of background history I could include but simply put I am 6 ft, 190 lbs, and in somewhat decent shape. I herniated the L4/L5 disc last year (2010)in November and dealt with the pain. The pain was debilitating. I couldn’t stand up straight, I walked like I was a hunched over 80 yr old man, taking little steps. Also, my hip shifted to accommodate for the pain, so, I was also very crooked. I had severe pain in my tailbone/sacrum area and horrible pain surrounding buttocks. The MRI showed a massive herniation in L4/L5.

Instead of surgery i went to the chiropractor, PCP, and Pain Management Doctor for a cortisone shot. After the Cortisone shot I did feel better for about a month. Well there were good weeks and bad weeks I guess. I tried to remain as kinda active as possible for the next 9 months.

On October 20th 2011 I twisted the wrong way i and spent the next 7 days in bed with severe pain. Nerve pain that was really really bad, practically put me into shock every time that nerve pinched. It was so bad that EMS came the one night and they couldnt even get me out of bed. They tried to lift me up and the pain was so bad i told them to put me back in bed and go away. Kicking the EMS at of your house at 4am means it's real real bad...

I was able to get out of bed after two packs of steroids/anti-inflammatories. The Vicodin and Flexural also helped. :) I worked from home for the next month and tried to get myself better through diet, good foods, vitamins, heat and ice therapy, and Pulse Electro Therapy.

During this time I found an Orthopedic to review my condition. He scheduled an MRI and it showed a massive L4/L5 herniation just like last year, but, worse this time. He recommended a microdiscetomy surgery and I agreed to it. At this point I couldn’t deal with the pain any longer. The Chiropractor and other non-surgical methods werent helping.

I would have got the surgery a year earlier if i wasnt such a baby and my doctors 'chiro/PCP/pain doc' informed me of the procedure and how common it is, easy recovery, and could make me pain free.

I had my surgery on 12/13/2011. I was told after the surgery that my herniation couldn’t have been any worse. They had to go on both sides of my spine to remove the herniation disc material. I guess there was a lot of that. Also, they had to remove some bone.

It was scary going into surgery of course, but, If i were to feel better afterwards,even a month or two afterwards, it would be worth it. I watched a video of a patient (youtube is a great place to find documentaries on this surgery) were the patient said that a microdiscetomy is equivalent to trimming toe nails. He also mentioned that there are risks, but, there are also risks when driving a car. I used this to help get me through the initial surgery scare.

My Orthopedic Surgeon said he performs multiple back surgeries (3) a day and has been doing this for years. He is the director of the spinal division at the hospital i had my surgery and recently operated on our governor. So, i felt like i was in good hands, that always helps.

Surgery goes like this –
1. Check in the hospital
2. They prep you for surgery/possibly out-patient surgery
3. Go to the room where you get ready to go into the surgical room and hang out. I got to see all the other people coming out of surgery, i prayed a lot.
4. They then give you a tranquilizer (at this point you don’t care anymore)It's like Valium but stronger.
5. They start the anesthesia. This surgery requires a breathing tube probably because it can take 1 -2 hrs to complete. My surgery took about 2:30hrs. While you’re knocked out they administer pain medicine and monitor your vitals.
6. Surgery's over

I woke up in the recovery section with some surgical pain in my back, of course as that’s where they cut me. They administrated a few shots of Demerol so I could deal. On a pain scale it was probably 7 out of 10, maybe less, It was a differnt kind of pain, one that i felt would go away; really more uncomfortable then anything. I didn’t get sick from the anesthesia or drugs, I remember them saying something like I had a couple shots of Fetnal‘super pain killer’ during surgery and three shots of Demerol after surgery. As I started to come out anesthesia and some of the pain meds and they took me to my room.

They said I would need to spend the night at the hospital so they could monitor me. It's typical they keep you over night depending on the time of the operation and the amount of drugs you took. they want to make sure your blood pressures good, etc..

There they provided me Percocet through out the night. All I wanted to do is sleep, but, that is not possible in the hospital as they are always coming in the room and bugging you taking blood pressure etc.. About 2/3 hrs after the surgery I could have got up and walked, however, I was a bit scared and waited till the next day.

So the next day around lunch I sat up with help from the nurse and stood with a walker. I was surprised that the pain I had before was gone. I could stand up straight and walk. I went to therapy and the more I walked the better I felt, it was amazing.

After the surgery I had numbness in my left leg and foot and also my right foot but not as bad. They said because of the nerve damage and them having to move the nerve this might happen. They said it show go away with in a couple of weeks. Also, I had pain from where they cut me, dug in my back, took out bone, sore muscles etc., but still not as bad as the nerve pain I had before the surgery. Also, I was not allowed to shower till 5 days after the surgery. I left the hospital the next day after the surgery and went home. I was only at the hospital for 28hrs including time I reported to surgery pre-op to post-surgery time.

So it’s now 6 full days after the surgery and I will provide you a timeline describing how I have felt during this time.

L4/L5 Microdiscectomy - Bilateral Laminectomy (basically what I have assumed and found what a ‘Bilateral Laminectomy ‘ means is that they needed to go on both sides of my spine to remove the herniated material.

I had a massive herniation that made me bed ridden for 7 days and prevented me from walking normal, walking any distance 50 feet, sitting for more than an hour, and sleeping for more than 2 months.

After the surgery the Doctor said no twisting, bending, or doing anything stupid for 6 weeks. The incision should heal in 2 weeks. The incision is glued together I think with steri strips. Just walk walk and walk during 6 weeks. Maybe they will start to get you stretching and stuff earlier depending.

It takes 3 -4 months for the body to heal the hole where the herniation material comes from near the disc (so i read). So I figure being very careful for at least 4 months. I never want a disc herniation again.

20hrs after surgery I was walking around on crutches in the hospital. Probably could have been 3 hrs after surgery but I waited. Nerve pain was gone in back and buttock (sacrum) area. Just new surgical pain instead.

24hrs - after surgery was on my way home (45 min car ride). A little uncomfortable, but, no problems. Happy to be going home. I made sure I paced the house till bed time. Sleeping is difficult as I am only comfortable on my sides and that starts to hurt my hips. I slept for 2hrs and then need to switch to my other side.

*** The biggest issue at this point is sleeping. I am afraid to roll over in bed as I think I am twisting and I do not want to re-herniate. Also, I cannot do the log roll as my back seems tight, maybe it’s the incision but just worried. So what I do is wake up and actually sit up and Walk to the other side of the bed and lay down on my other side. Im driving my wife nutz..

2 days later – I woke up feeling better and less sore. I still have some pain where the incision is and the surrounding muscles especially on the left side where the majority of the herniation was. I walked around the house all day long hardly sitting. I took a 2 hr nap and walked more till 11 pm, then went to bed. Still have numbness in my left leg and feet. Using crutches.

3 days later – Feeling less numbness in leg and feet. I am moving faster and starting to get my posture and gate back from walking. I have also spent 10min 2x a day on my mini trampoline walking in place. This seems to really help a lot. It seems to be correcting my hips and makes me sweat a little, I just feel out of shape cause the last 2 months I have done nothing. So I have been walking constantly probably like a mile a day inside my house. I use an app for my phone that counts steps and miles, and calories. It still hurts to sit for more than 45 minutes. I have cut down on pain meds. Only taking about two pain killers a day, one in the late afternoon and one at bed time. I have been drinking a lot of water and fluids. I started taking all my vitamins again to help with inflammation and general health. I also started using my Pulse Magnetic Therapy Machine again to help with inflammation and incision healing. Using cane and walking on my own.

- Drink fluids (helps with constipation and recovery). I drink about 8 – 10 cups a day
- Taking vitamins (Omega 3, E, D, C, Turmeric, Cherry Tart). They all help with inflammation and general health.
- Eating good foods to help with inflammation and diet
- Walking a lot around the house. Sit for 30 minutes and then walk more. Standing is great and laying down when I really get bored.
- Using my mini trampoline twice a day for 10 minutes just walking and marching in place.
- Going up and down stairs a few times a day.
- Lastly I have a Pulse Magnetic Therapy Device which I purchased when I hurt my back. These are supposed to be awesome for recovery, but, they are expensive ve $1000 and up. I found a place in Canada that makes them for humans and horses. They do a rent to own program with a three month evaluation. I recommend it, what’s to lose but some more money. The initial cost to get it sent to me was $300. Showed up at my door in 3 days. It’s a circular devie ‘magnet’ you put around you, plug it in the wall, set the time and frequency range. You can feel the difference in the pulsation depending on frequency. Inflammation is supposed to ball up blood vessels therefore running a pulse through the vessels are supposed to break up the blood vessels and allow for faster recovery since the back does not get much blood supply. It’s really supposed to work. I will update you on that later.

4/5 day – feeling easier to walk and get around. Woke up still a little sore on my left and right side, mostly left. Still tough to sleep. Still sticking to my program, walking and eating right.

6 day (12/19/2011) – woke up still a little sore on my left side. Still tough to sleep but feeling better. Getting around much better. Ready to start walking outside and see how far I can go. Incision is looking good. Feeling like im really gettign better. I am so happy i got the surgery at this point and im looking forward to tomorrow.


  • to Spine Health. I'm glad you're feeling better. Try not to overdo it. Keep us posted on your recovery.
  • So today officially marks my 2 weeks post-surgical operation so I wanted to provide another update as to what I have been doing for rehab and feeling as far as pain and numbness.

    7 – 12 Days -
    These days were basically all the same, not much difference in the way I felt as far as pain going away. I do find myself to be able to bend down or bend over a bit better. I don’t bend much, but, at times its needed like washing hands, getting up from sitting etc.. Sitting is a bit better not as uncomfortable.

    Actually, I started to get some little pinching pains here and there but nothing major or anything to be worried about. Probably nerve freak outs. My right foot is a lot less numb but my right foot and shin area is still very numb. It’s maybe now at 60% numbness instead of 70% which I felt after surgery. Also, my LEFT foot is starting to hurt a little when walking on it or standing for too long. Maybe it’s a good idea to always wear shoes at this point.

    I have still been going for walks every day, about 1 mile and walking on my trampoline for about 10min 1 or 2 times a day. I have still been taking vitamins almost every day especially E and Folic Acid as it’s supposed to help with nerves.

    13-14 Days -
    The pain where they did the surgery has gone down a lot. The right side there’s really no pain and the left side just a tiny bit. The left side is where it hurt the most because they did remove bone from my disc. Also, that’s where the massive herniation was located. Muscles felt tight and that dull constant pain must have been from the bone being shaved off and muscle. Anyway, it’s much better now. I can also roll in bed again rather good.

    I have still been doing all the normal treatment such as walks, vitamins, pulse magnetic therapy, etc.. I have not been pushing it, just taking it way. My left foot is still rather numb and it is starting to get annoying. Maybe it gets a little better every day. It always seems cold and starts to feel better when I shower and it’s in hot water.

    My incision is looking real good but not completely closed so my wife put new stri-strips on. My follow up appointment is not for another 2 weeks, almost a month after the surgery. No probs, the holidays and different office locations caused this delay.

    Still walking a little funny. My body still shifts to the right side like when I had the herniation. I am constantly trying to walk normal and straight and everyday it seems to be getting better. Also, my numb foot makes me walk a little funny. I am guessing by next week all the pain will be completely gone and I will be on my way to a very very healthy recovery.. I am keeping my fingers crossed and still trying to not bend, twist, or pick anything up much..
  • Hi Flounder - thanks for putting your pain log on line. My mom is about to have almost the same surgery, and your comments about movement and pain have helped her "fear factor". Please keep up your blog, as I have made it a favorite place that I will keep on checking.

    About your feet: the better the sneaker/shoe, the straighter you will walk. Don't get a Wal-Mart $30 pair of sneakers - go to a shoe store and have an actual person help you into a shoe/sneaker that will be best for you. I spend $125 about every 6 months on new orthopedic sneakers and boy are they worth it! I can't wear cheap shoes!!

    Keep up the good work and I hope you are feeling MUCH better. Thanks for listening.
  • Glad to hear you are doing great!!
    I've got my pre op on 16th January not got a date yet I'm scared stiff but if it goes as well as yours has I will be thrilled to bits.
    I have found over the last 10 days come 1pm right upto midnight I am in so much pain, I walk like an (some) 80 year old woman who is supposed to have a zimmer frame. I only have an office job and go for short walks as the company honour this for me which is good.
    I have enjoyed reading your feedback please keep it up, I will try and put mine on too when it happens.

  • Jan. 25th 2012 -
    Sorry I haven’t posted an update for a while as I have been a bit busy. I am glad to hear that I helped your mother overcome her fears, somewhat I suppose, and for the advice on getting good shoes.

    For Melanie and Mamas hurting, my only regret is not doing the surgery sooner, like a year ago when I first experienced real bad symptoms. Everything else to that point was tolerable.

    Forums are SCARY.. Most people that post are the ones that have had a bad outcome. Please keep in mind that thousands of these surgeries are done every year with very positive outcomes. I found some documentary videos on YouTube that really helped me get over the fear. You can find them if you search “microdiscectomy”.

    Anyway, so far so good. I started back at work around the third week. I work in software so I sit a lot and have had no problems there. I just make sure I get up and walk around a bit. I would say that every day from week three on I have felt stronger, looser, and more confident. As a matter of fact I have become extremely positive and I wake up in a great mood. I have been going for long walks, in the freezing Pittsburgh weather, every day after work. I walk about 3 miles a day. I actually can’t wait to go home and walk. I think this is CRUTIAL to recovery as I have been building up strength in my legs and back again. Plus I feel like I have more energy after the walk and I feel looser. When the weather is real bad I walk in place on my little trampoline for about 20 minutes. I also try to stretch my feet and hamstrings as they are still stiff and numb.

    During weeks four and five (I’m in week five) I have been able to bend more and lift things such as laundry and taking garbage to the curb, etc.. Whatever you do be careful and don’t try to push it. Also, I still limit my bending and twisting. I am still a bit scared and probably should be considering how painful my condition was before the surgery. As my one buddy said that also had this surgery “take your time, don’t slip or fall, there’s no rush”. He also said it took him about 3 months before he was really able to do anything like play golf or bowl.

    My doctor said after week 6 I am unrestricted, however, I am still going to take it very easy for as long as I can. Meaning, I’m not going to the gym and bench pressing, doing sit ups, cutting grass, etc. for as long as possible. I will continue walking and stretching for now and then slowly move into other things to strengthen my body again.

    Everyone is different with recovery, I have been very blessed to have a quick recoery, probably thats becasue i had a great surgeon. I seriously feel like i owe him big time. I had some serious issues before. I really really wish I wouldn’t have been so scared to have surgery. I could have been feeling this good a year ago.

    From my experience it seems the herniation will not go away, sometimes subside, but then come back with a vengeance. Knowing what I know now I would have done the surgery at the first hint of a herniation. I simply wish they doctors in teh past would have explained how routine and simple the procedure was and that I could be pain free again. Do I want surgery again? Of course not. As mentioned, after the surgery some discomfort, they cut bone and were moving muscles, plus I still had residual nerve pain. But the pain I felt after surgery was so much better then beforehand and every day I feel stronger and better.

    Give it a few weeks, stay positive, go out to dinner, have some wine, take your pain meds, and try to enjoy yourself after week one (dont drive all messed up). Staying positive makes a huge difference.

    Week Five – My left leg and foot is still a little numb, mostly in half of my foot. Sometimes it gets sore, almost like swollen sprained ankle feeling. My pad on the right foot gets a little numb but no biggie at all. I can still walk 3 miles no problems and everyday it seems to get a little better. Sometimes I get little tingle pains and a crampy feeling in my back, but, I attribute it to nerve damage and post-surgery pain. I am sure in time it will all be better..

    Basically my life is back to normal now. I do things around the house and got back to normal activities, not active ones, but, like hobbies, etc.. I feel good mentally and can’t wait to see how I feel in another five weeks. I just need to make sure I keep walking and I don’t push it…
  • Hi Flounder,
    Thanks for posting this blog. I'm a few weeks behind you; had a micro and laminectomy on 1/27. I was worried the recovery would take six months but it's good to hear that you're feeling pretty normal at the 5-week mark. I've been taking very short walks so far (I'm just 5 days post-op) but reading your blog encouraged me to start walking a little longer. I know how important walking is for us. Take care and good luck with the rest of the recovery.
  • 2-29-12
    So I'm in week 10 and so far so good. I am still very careful in what I do and how i do it. Always trying to limit twisting, bending, and everything else that could aggravate my back. I have not started stretching or working out yet because I am still afraid of causing a re-herniation, so I have been taking it easy. However, I have still been walking almost every day about 3 miles a day and that has been helping a lot. I actually feel much stronger the more I walk so it’s a definite must if you want to get better faster.

    I had numbness in my feet after the surgery. My right foot is not numb anymore and my left foot is only partially numb (on the left side). My hamstring and left leg still feel a bit tight and I try to stretch it out using the stairs and massage. I am still paranoid about anyone touching my lower back where I had the operation so i havnt had that massaged yet.

    I read that the hole wear the herniated material (nucleus pulposus) came out of usually scars over within three to four months so I really don’t want to do anything till it’s scared over. Hoping to really reduce the risk of a re-herniation. I figure I will start doing easy back exercises and stretches starting in month three. The doctor told me that after week six I was un-restricted meaning I can do everything and anything again, but, I don’t want to take the risk. I am still very cautious and nervous about my back. I get freaked out with every little tingle or cramp, but, I am assuming that is normal, at least for now.
    One ladies post said she was the same and then about six months out started to do yoga and this really helped, especially with outing her mind at ease from re-herniating. She said this was because she was able to build confidence with all the stretching she was doing in yoga and she knew she had that range of motion back and wasn’t scared to do things like twist and bend anymore. Plus yoga is slow stretching and is a bit easier on your body from what she said. So I figure stretching before I get into long workout routines.

    During the last couple of weeks I have been getting strange tingles in my lower back, and buttocks area at times. It doesn’t last long and it feels like my nerves are coming back online or maybe it’s my muscles since they really haven’t been used in a while. My physical therapist friend said it’s because I haven’t been doing much and using those back muscles etc.. My one numb foot cramps up. It feels like a shooting pain but comes and goes. It’s not super bad but annoying. Also, sometimes it feels like my back is crampy and I fight the urge to twist and stretch or crack it. It usually gets better once I walk around.

    The surgical cut has fully healed and isn’t lumpy anymore. Besides that no other pains and I feel like I’m getting stronger and more mobile. Life’s back to normal  I’m sure once I start a full exercise program all problems will go away.

    I am not a workout fanatic nor have I ever been overly concerned about my health. As a matter of fact I always had a bad diet and was lazy. I was never overweight or anything, but, I could have definitely chilled out on the smokes and beer. This episode has been a huge eye opener for me. I have changed my ways adn glad i did. Truthfully, I feel great so I must be doing something right with changing my life style.

    This is what I have done to get better fast –

    • I listened to my Orthopedic Surgeon
    • I am taking it easy and I try not to do anything stupid like lift things, cut grass, shovel, etc..
    • I have restricted twisting and bending. I would say at least twisting.
    • Started eating healthy. Cut out what little fast food I did eat and other processed junk. I lost weight at first when I was hurt but gained it back in about 2 weeks once I felt better and could eat. I am 34 yrs old, 5’11, and weigh 195lbs. I’m looking to lose 10 – 15lbs. I am sure this will help.
    • I take vitamins (C, D, Folic Acid, Turmeric, Omega 3, and sometimes Cherry Tart) religiously. I started really taking a lot of vitamins constantly after I herniated my back. Some vitamins and herbs help reduce inflammation, which is bad when your back is messed up. I kept up with them for months now and eat a lot better. Since I have been taking vitamins every day, some of them twice a day, I have not gotten sick all winter (flu/cold) even when everyone around me is sick. I have also had more energy. I’m sure an all in one vitamin does the trick. Also, I hear GNC has some specific for joints with Turmeric which is supposed to be good for you especially folks like us.
    • Walk as much as you can. I wish I had the opportunity to walk a couple times per day, but, I have to work. You also meet all the neighborhood pets this way.. 
    • Get out of the house and do something with yourself early on. Go to the store etc.. Seemed to help build confidence
    • Lastly, I also purchased a Pulsed Magnetic Field Therapy device. (http://nowhere.com). I used Centurion Systems as they offer a rent to own so you can evaluate the device for 3 months and see if its right for you. They are expensive, but, it’s tough to put a price on feeling good. You know what I mean if your reading this blog. Did it help? I think it did. I think it helped with recovery time as it assists in bringing nutrients to your back. Typically the blood supply in the back is bad which is why these injuries and surgeries take a long time to heal. I don’t think it can hurt so why not try it. http://nowhere.com
    Most importantly please note that I am just some guy who had a MD surgery on L4/L5. Everyone is different with recovery times, pains, and surgery outcomes. So listen to your body and don’t be stupid. Most importantly listen to your doctor…

    Post edited to remove URLs. Solicitation at Spine-Health is never permitted

    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Administrator 02/29/12
Sign In or Register to comment.