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meg101mmeg101 Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Lower Back Pain
I just found out today, that i'm going to have to get a Discectomy on my L4/5 and I have to have the arthritis cleaned out (theirs alot) I'm scared for this surgery. I'm only 20 years old. I was just wondering is an Discectomy very painful? and has anyone else herd of an 20 something year old getting this type of back surgery?

I have had 2 ACL Reconstructions on the same knee and wasn't really scared for them, but this discectomy is really scaring me... I'm going to see my Orthopaedic Doctor Tuesday to see when im getting this surgery.

Ohh... and my Pain Doctor told me my back is worse than someone who is in there 50's...
I'm 24 years old, I have had back problems since I was 17...

June 6th 2012 (I was 20 years old) On my L4/5 I got a Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) with 4 pedicle screws, 2 rods, and 2 cages.


  • Meg-
    Don't be sad. I had the same surgery in 2005 and was home to sleep in my own bed the same night.

    It is perfectly natural and very normal to be afraid of having an operation. The pain of a discectomy varies from person to person but can be very well controlled with the pain meds available now.

    I really, really advise you to have a neurosurgeon do your discectomy--snd here is why. Spinal surgery obviously involves working with nerves and neurosurgeons are more protective of the nerves in your spine. I took this same advice from my primary doctor's former associate and was very glad.

    Please give us the date of your surgery and an update after you have it.
  • Hey,

    I hope to offer you some words of comfort. And I swear the following is true - I felt better immediately after my surgery compared with before. I was in so much pain before my surgery, and numbness, etc.

    That said, surgery really sucks! I woke up before they expected and was FREEZING, shaking violently. But they had this vacuum cleaner type thing that blew hot air on me. So, that was only approx. ten minutes of torture!! After that, I was quite nautious - almost threw up but kept it in a fell asleep. The morphine made me quite talkative. My parents were there and I wanted to talk to them while they thought I should rest. The morphine helped a lot - made me quite happy. Also should mention that as soon as I woke up my feet felt different, normal which was fantastic. They had been numb before.

    The thought of surgery is far worse than surgery actually is. I mean, the flu actually feels worse. I was very light heading, and my blood pressure was quite low so I stayed in the hospital two nights instead of just one. If you have any other questions about my experience, message me.
  • Hello again Meg-

    I offer you the words of comfort given to me by my neurosurgeon when I was discharged after my discectomy. He said that many times our minds can and do magnify a dreaded event out of proportion with how the reality of the event actually turns out to be
  • Make the best out of a crappy situation. Rent DVD's, buy movies, books, magazines etc. Be prepared so you don't get bored. I was told no driving for 6 weeks, so make sure you are prepared for that!!
  • Make sure you get a 2nd opinion.
    I hate to state the obvious but remember doctors are humans too and are not perfect.

    I would suggest you get a 2nd opinion (don't tell them what the first doctor is suggesting, just tell them you have one recommendation but want another opinon to be sure you are making an educated decision) from a non-related doctor. Ask your general practitioner for another doctor - Neurosurgeon.

    Either can do the surgery and it's really a matter of preference. But I opted for an Orthopedic Surgeon the first time but the 2nd time, went for Neurosurgeon b/c I realized they move nerves around and just wanted the added training that an NS comes with.

    You are young for this surgery. But the surgery has come a long way. You will generally be released the same day but if they want you to stay overnight, don't be alarmed.

    Ask them what to expect. Ask them to explain what the worst case scenario is (leaking spinal fluid, if they hit a nerve, etc.) so you have all the information to make the decision.

    This is optional surgery so be sure you are comfortable with it.

    I had 2 of these - each was different
    First one - scared out of my mind b/c I never had surgery. Woke up in recovery with warm blankets and this leg 'cuffs' on that vibrated to help keep circulation going. They kept me there for a bit and it was good b/c I didn't have nausea or anything. I stayed over b/c the surgery was late in the day. But I was up walking to the bathroom on my own. I felt like someone hit me across the back with a 2x4 but overall felt ok. Pain meds and muscle relaxers were needed.

    Second one - I was still scared but they did nerve monitoring so I was fascinated by how they were hooking me up pre-op. I made sure I saw my doctor before I let them put me out. Woke up in recovery and this time was nauseaus. I told them right away b/c I was told that once they move me...it would get worse. Glad I told them b/c they moved me right away to a room and it did indeed get worse. I threw up which worried me b/c I thought it would hurt my chances of recovery but they assured me it wouldn't. Despite the nausea...this time, I didn't have the same pain. The staff was amazed that I never once asked for anything, not even tylenol until the next day (I had a headache from vomiting).

    It is always scary to go into surgery. Back surgery is a major surgery even if they are using micro approach. It's normal to be scared.
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