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L4-L5 reherniation, FBSS?

Hello all, I'm new here but have some questions for those of you who have been through this. I was in 3 different car accidents in previous years, leading to a herniation at the L4-L5 level. I had a discectomy on 8/15/11 and was alright for 4-5 months. The pain started to come back, and my surgeon sent me for an MRI. Apparently I had/have scar tissue, as well as a reherniation at the same level. We tried epidural injections again, and I just finished 6 weeks of PT. Neither of those things worked, and even my therapist said there is nothing more they can do for me. (She was almost in tears because we developed a strong rapport.) I go to see my surgeon on Thursday morning, and I'm worried he will want to do another surgery. Does anyone here have any experience with surgery *after* a previous discectomy? I'm a stay-at-home-mom (living with my parents, which is somewhat helpful) and I'm nervous he'll want to do a fusion or something. I know I'm projecting a lot, but I'm in pain so often that it's hard to think about anything else...

- Jaclyn
6/2003, 1st car accident; 04/2004, 2nd car accident; 10/2005, 3rd car accident
8/15/11, L4-L5 discectomy for herniation
6/19/12, Declared FBSS


  • Hey there,

    Yes, I have experience and I know several folks that have also had this experience. Re-herniation happens. It stinks but it happens.

    The doctor may want to do a fusion or he may want to do a revision of the discectomy.
    Did you have a micro or open discectomy?

    I had a micro and really only got relief (sort of) for 2-weeks. By week 6, I was till crying nightly in pain even with medication. I finally convinced the doctor to re-MRI at 10 weeks post op and sure enough scar tissue and another piece of disc was to be blamed.

    I was given 3 options - do nothing and see if it got better, revision discectomy, or fusion.
    Granted, each doctor had an opinion (I ended up with 7 opinions and don't regret it b/c I made a very informed decision for me). I had the revision and am over 2 years out and doing fairly well considering how bad I was. I will never be the same but I am SO much better than I was. I was scared of the fusion because for me, it was like the permanent last option to get me an improvement. I decided the revision had enough of a chance of working so I gave it a try. It was a slow recovery b/c I needed to be extra careful.

    If the re-herniation isn't big, you can give it time to try to work through it.
    If a revision is in the cards, you do have to take it easy the 2nd time but it probably is an option.
    Fusion...I'll leave that to you. I asked a ton of questions and just decided that while I might be risking a 3rd surgery by going with the revision, the fusion had its own risks. I hope that the revision holds over the years but if not, I hope I've bought enough time so that there are other options than fusion (like ADR).

    Anyhow, it's not an easy thing. I know how hard it is when you are dealing with the daily pain.
    Good luck at the doctor.
    Try to bring someone with you that can ask questions and/or listen for you when you see the doctor.
    Also, if he does suggest surgery, still get a 2nd opinion. Each surgery is different and most surgeons welcome a 2nd opinion.
  • I had an L4-L5 laminectomy and discectomy in January. I have issues with a number of other discs as well. Although the surgery and recovery went well, the symptoms persisted. I saw my surgeon about a month ago and he said to let him know when I can't take the pain any more and we would discuss what the next surgery would be. From our previous discussions I know that it would be extensive and multi-level.

    I hope that you can enjoy your kids through this. I am thankful that my back issues didn't get really bad when my kids were young. I have been told and reminded that your kids will love you because you're Mom and will adjust based on what you can do.

    No matter what your surgeon suggests, you can always get another opinion (or 2). Ask as many questions as you can think of (you may be able to pick some up elsewhere on this site). Lots of people here have had L-fusions and could give you information about what that's like. I had a cervical fusion, but I understand that is a lot different than lumbar fusion.

    Take care,

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
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