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6 weeks Post Microdiscectomy-Issues

jtp0615jjtp0615 Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

Had this procedure done 3/16 to two lower discs that were herniated. Was caused by heavy lifting nearly a year ago that created major sciatic pain/numbness in my left leg.

Felt great after operation but overdid it with some stretching 3 weeks post op (bending forward, how dumb). The next day I could barely walk and my entire lower back swelled. Started PT last week. Helping minimally. Have to return to work Monday. I can only walk 10-20 minutes and my lower back feels like its ripping in two seperate directions.

My surgeon feels there is no re-herniation and only inflammation. Would not advise new MRI. I am very concerned I have done some major damage with this stretching.

Anyone with any advice on this? This entire process has been such a challenge since this step backwards.

God Bless you all.


  • Sorry you overdid it. It is so easy to do. Is your surgeon giving you something for the inflammation? If not, can your doctor? Also, can your surgeon or primary care doctor extend your leave, since you are not ready.

    Otherwise, if you have to go to work, talk to your boss or HR about modifying your duties if necessary until you can talk your doctors.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • My thoughts... you are about 6 weeks out of surgery. You might have overdone it but sounds like inflammation. Like Karen suggested, did your doctor recommend an anti-inflammatory? I know I had problems post op and they put me on prednisone (which is strong but they have a medrol pack or even prescription NSAID).

    I am not a doctor but I suspect he is not concerned now b/c your pain increased in your back. Typically re-herniation would cause increased leg pain but that's not always the case.

    Anyhow, if you still aren't comfortable at the 10 week mark...pressure the doctor a little. Or, if he releases you, speak to your general practitioner.

    My first surgery I did re-herniate but because I didn't do anything specific, they had no real reason to re-MRI. And, if I understand they will wait 3 months to Re-MRI if they have no specific cause for concern. I hit the 10 week mark, was on prednisone, never really got any relief from the surgery, and basically told the doctor I would be very upset with myself if I left his office and waited another 2 months before finding out for sure whether or not I reherniated. So at 10 weeks post-op, I was sent for MRI just before I released from his care (e.g. I think surgery recovery was covered for 90 days). And I had re-herniated.

    I would start with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory (if your doctor suggests that) and if, by your next appointment, you still are concerned...ask. Tell him you don't mean to be paranoid but you really think something isn't right. If he still says no, ask what next? If he says time...say ok. Then go to your general practitioner and ask.
  • A little more background. I'm a 29 year old male and was extremely active prior to the herniations. Worked out quite a bit.

    Thank you all for your responses. I have another appointment with my surgeon in two weeks (8 weeks post op). When I saw him last he did prescribe Mobic/Meloxicam as an anti-inflammatory. I was also prescribed Lidocaine patches for the area surrounding the incision.

    I have also purchased a brace from my local drug store. Not sure how often I should wear it or if I should wear it during my walks. I will have to ask my therapist. I am currently in PT land and have been for two weeks. Doing my own stretches but those don't seem to be helping much to calm the area. Rotating between ice packs and also heat to try to calm things down as well.

    I am hoping there was not a tear or re-herniation due to my stretching experiment. I am not experiencing very much sciatic pain (in buttocks randomly). Little tinging in left leg and numbness that I experienced prior to surgery that may be there afterwords. Tightness and pain is all associated in lower back area. Progress is frustratingly slow. The slightest bend forward feels like a ripping sensation in my back.

    Unfortunately, I do have to return to work tomorrow but will have to make the best of it.

    Has anyone else out there run into a set back such as this post-op? Trying to keep my head up but this has been such a challenge.
  • I totally understand how frustratingly slow recovery can be. I can sympathize with you on that. I hope that the meds help get you over this latest hurdle.

    My 'set back' was not like yours so I can't really comment further.

  • I have a kinda sorta similar story. My L5-S1 surgery was a success but one day I did something stupid. It wasn't real real bad, but enough to cause discomfort.

    I tried a series of traction table pulls. (Triton table)
    They were working pretty good actually. So I'm just about pain-free and I try the stretches that so many people recommend for a bad back.

    I'm lying in bed looking at the ceiling and slowly bring the right knee to my chest, stretch and return to normal position. So far, so good.
    Next, I try the left knee to my chest. BAM! The disc let me know immediately that it thought that was a stupid idea.

    All the progress I had made with the traction went out the door. It took me a long time (and money/traction pulls) to get back to that point.

    Is traction an option for you? How about an ESI?

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Thanks for all of your responses. I will ask my surgeon if traction/ESI is an option.

    Going to try to move my appt up a week to 7 weeks post op and push for a new MRI. The inside of my lower back just does not feel "right."

    All I can seem to do is lay on the couch. I can't describe how tight my entire lower back is. Feels like even when I exhale deeply things are aggravated.
  • jtp, I had a pilf, "lumbar fusion" on 03/13, so I'm right behind you. I too had major issues with swelling and it causes havoc on the system, making a lot of us think there are new issues. In some cases there are, but like the other people have said it's probably not a major issue.

    I have one thing to say. "ICE, ICE, ICE" okay, well that's 3 but I can't stress it enough that ice is the savior for post-op issues. The incision / operation site swells, pushing on nerves, bones, and all the fragile things in the back. I would do these 3 things.

    1) use a muscle relaxer(Change it if you don't feel any relief.)
    2) Ice, Ice, Ice.
    3) Keep walking - it's the best back strengthener.
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • Bp,

    Thanks so much for the feedback. I have been mostly using warmth but will try more ice. It is awful feeling like your lower back feels like it has been hit by a baseball bat when you move around for more than 15 minutes.

    Best of luck with your recovery as well.
  • Went to my Surgeon on Friday.

    They did X-Rays and everything looked OK on them. No fractures. No MRI as of yet. He said it would probably not show the cause of my issue???

    He feels like the bending/stretching I did put a great deal of stress on my joints and these are now inflammed.

    He suggested injections for the joints? Have any of you had these? I am still moving quite slow and back is still tight.
  • I had four facet injections of cortisone on 5/17. This has been more than a month ago. I had some relief and My surgeon settled on his fact that I have facet syndrome and this will be more than likely chronic. Maybe caused by surgery or stress? I'm not sure.

    I'm having a hard time coping with this as I can't live like this forever. He said my only options are a fusion (which he said he is not comfortable performing) or burning of the nerves. Rhizotomy(sp). I am currently 3 months post op. The usual symptoms.

    I am trying to see a neurosurgeon for a second opinion. After all this time, I have not been granted an MRI. I even saw a chiro a couple of times. But I don't believe this has done anything. My surgeon did say I can try traction with my therapist for these joints but I'm concerned this will cause inflammation.

    It's been about 3-4 weeks and I have not done therapy with my therapist. Just stretches at home.

    Does anyone else have experience with their facet joints? I'm holding out hope because I've read some people don't feel "right" until about a year out from surgery.

    Hope you all are well.
  • How did he confirm it's facet? Did he do another MRI?
    It could be facet joins but yes, I would get another opinion. Fusion is a tough go and may not resolve your issues.
    Have you considered seeing a different therapist?
    I saw a physiologist (muscular/skeletal doctor) who had PT team. I felt the PT I got there was more holistic and may be good if you indeed have facet issues.

    Anyhow, I wish you well.
  • Zeus2006ZZeus2006 Posts: 23
    edited 06/26/2012 - 3:21 PM
    I can't relate exactly to your condition. But I did have a multi level (2) fusion just over 6 weeks ago. I understand what it is like to be young (34 yr old) and dealing with chronic pain.
    I was in ok shape, pre op, but my pain was preventing me from doing most anything I enjoyed, unless I just dealt with the pain.
    Although only over 6 weeks post op, I don't know if surgery will be the end all/ be all solution for me. There is still time for my nerves to heal (about 2 more weeks).
    I understand that I won't completely fuse untill abou 12 months post op. (cervical fusion)
    I wouldn't say I've had set backs, but some events have occured that were out of the 5 lbs weight limit I was under for the first 4 weeks.
    Lucky for me, so far those events haven't led to any screaming nerves like you have experienced. Good luck with what ever decision you make.
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