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3+ months post op - struggles

Hi all,

I'm a healthy 35 year old fit male that had a microdiscectomy May 29, 2012. Every thing seemed to go as planned with the initial recovery.

Over the past three months I've had 3 occurences of sever sciatic pain that sets in and will last up to 2 or 3 weeks. This pain has been more sever than it was prior to my surgery. I am waiting on results from an MRI done this past week to find out if the cause is scar tissue or another herniated disc. My physio therapist does not see this as a possiblity due to the fact that my pain seems to subside over time. My most recent (one week ago) "relapse" of pain was the result of some pretty sever back spasms that occurred as I was removing a lasagna from the oven. Up until that moment I had finally had an entire week completely pain free. It had been so long (at least 2 years) since I had been comletely without sciatic pain, I thought I was finally going to get past this problem.

I'm curious to know, if anyone else has experienced sciatic pain that comes goes as mine does? Could it be due to a herniated disc? scar tissue? or am I now dealing with piriformis syndrome? bone spur? degenerative disc? I understand I cannot be diagnosed online but am curious to hear from anyone that has experienced the same or similar issues I am encountering and what their diagnosis turned out to be.

My sciatic pain stretches from my lower back all the way down to my ankle on my left leg. I would say it hurts most in the hip and calf. I would describe the pain as a pulled muscle and sometimes even a throbbing pain. laying on my stomach for short periods of time seems to give me the most comfort.

I see my physio therapist tomorrow and my surgeon in a week and will post updates.

Once again if anyone out there is in or has experienced a similar scenario, I would love to hear from you.



  • geewillyggeewilly Posts: 10
    edited 09/05/2012 - 3:54 PM
    Hi Merk57,

    I currently have a herniaton at L5/S1 and am waiting for a microdiscectomy. When I first started having sciatica symptoms ~ 9-10 months ago they would come and go. Some nights after work my butt would be sore. I would go weeks with nothing, and then out of nowhere I would have a really bad day or weekend when my thigh and leg would be really sore. Eventually the symptoms became persistent, which is where I am now. I'm not sure if the herniation got bigger over time, or if the nerve just became more irritated over time. Are your acute phases increasing in severity as they occur?

  • Merk57MMerk57 Posts: 16
    edited 09/06/2012 - 10:59 AM
    Hi geewilly,

    My acute phases are increasing in severity as they occur. They are also worse than the pain I was experiencing prior to my surgery. Prior to surgery, I was able to function and go to work every day. I was even playing ice hockey through most of the winter but did aggrevate the disc towards the end of my season and had to call it quits. I missed a couple of days of work and then was back to it. At this stage now, I cannot return to work and some days cannot even sit in the car.

    I was at the physio therapist today. I was told to lay off the stretches and exersises until further notice. I received a massage, accupuncture, and had the ultrasound maching on my back for 12 mins. I was told to continue walking as much as possible but to stop if pain increases.

    Geewilly, have you tried seeing a physiotherapist?? I strongly recommend it, especially if you can get your docs notes, mri reports, etc sent to the physio so they can know what they are dealing with.

    Best of luck
  • geewillyggeewilly Posts: 10
    edited 09/06/2012 - 11:56 AM
    Hi Merk57,

    I did try physiotherapy, unfortunately it didn't ultimately work out for me. PT was very helpful initially (particularly the stretches and traction) and they really seemed to help. After 6 weeks or so of physio my symptoms started to worsen, despite me doing the exercises regularly. It was pretty frustrating to be doing all that work and have the pain spread down my leg to my foot. I went for about 8 weeks total before the therapist decided to send me to a physiatrist.

    I still do some of the stretches on my own (the ones that don't hurt on a given day) and am working on gently strengthening my core and I also try to walk a lot. I don't have a car, so that's actually pretty easy for me. :) I use a lumbar roll when I sit, and am also trying to be more conscious about maintaining good posture when I sit and stand. I find if I have a really inactive day, the next day typically yields bad leg pain. I guess because I haven't stretched out my leg/back? I haven't had much luck with steroid injections so far either, and I'm currently waiting for a microdiscectomy. I'm not sure if I will be back in physio post-surgery or not.

    My father also has a herniated disc, and is waiting for surgery. (I can't help but wonder if there's a genetic predisposition because we're both otherwise healthy.) He found that his chiropractor has helped him a lot. They worked out a lot of the muscle knots he had in his back/leg, and he finds he is more comfortable now. It sounds like a little bit of massage therapy can go a long way.

    Hopefully your doctor will have some insights for you next week.

  • Merk57MMerk57 Posts: 16
    edited 09/06/2012 - 2:28 PM

    That's really interesting to hear of your p/t experience as it's almost exactly what has happened to me. The only difference being that mine has all occured post surgery. I would suggest that you got to p/t again post surger as soon as possible. I did not get p/t recommended to me until all my symptoms returned after the surgery. I may have done something after surgery and prior to physio that re-herniated my disc. Other than walking and a couple of stretches was all the advice I was given at the hospital. I followed the regimen but as I felt better, I continued to increase my activity. Each "lapse" I experienced seems to have been due to my activities. The first being weeding my garden, the second was sexual activity with my wife, and this last time was removing dinner from the oven. I'm wondering if I had started more stretches and core strengthening exercises sooner, perhaps none of these activities would have caused so many issues.

    Perhaps already having been through p/t you'll simply know better than to make the same mistakes I have made after surgery.

  • So, I finally had my appointment with the surgeon and the MRI showed that I no longer have a disc herniation but there is some evidence of scar tissue. It's inconclusive as to whether or not this scar tissue is the source of my pain. It is shown as being in between the spine and the nerve, however, the nerve in the photo is nice and round. My surgeon is going to have me meet with another surgeon with regards to possibly surgically removing the scar tissue. I'm not sure whether or not at this point if that is a good idea as there is no guarantee that this is the cause of the pain also there is no guarantee that after the scar tissue is surgically removed that it simply won't just come back exactly the same or worse. Does anyone know of any other options to deal with scar tissue??
  • Update::

    I went through a nerve root block this past friday at the site where the scar tissue is located (L5/S1). I had some instant relief afterwards thanks to the anesthetic. After about 2-3 hours as the anesthetic wore off, my returned to exactly how it was prior to receiving the injection. My doctor's feeling was at the time that if the nerve root block did not work at this location, then this would mean my source of pain is not due to the scar tissue (this could be a good thing).

    At physio this morning the therapist checked for possible piriformis muscle issues and did comment that I seem to be "knotted" up in that muscle. It seems we are now on the trail of dealing with piriformis syndrome. Could this have been my source of pain all along??
  • Update :

    As I continue with pt for prifiromis, I have been getting slowly better once again. This past weekend I discovered a topical cream called LivRelief nerve pain relief cream. I'm not sure if I just have high hopes for the product but so far so good! It seems to help with the sciatic pain almost instantly and lasts for a few hours (5 or 6hrs at at time). I'm curious, if anyone else has tried this product and has it helped them or not. For fear of sounding like I'm adverstising something I'd like to leave it at that. After only two days it's difficult to "recommend" this product but so far so good!

  • How's the LivRelief working now? If it's effective, where did you get it?
    Mother, wife, Southern farm keeper, chicken lady, beekeeper, anesthesia provider. L5-S1 PLIF 9/2013. Visit PLIF blog at http://www.lumbarfusionfusion.blogspot.com
  • Hi Daysleeper,

    Thanks for reading.

    Since I have started using LivRelief cream I have been getting better. It would be impossible to tell how much of this is contributed to the cream. For the first few days that I used the cream, I was prepared to call it a miracle. Then, I was unsure whether or not it made much difference if any at all. I still l continued to use it regardless wondering maybe my pain would be more severe if I wasn't using it. I do believe it helps but I wouldn't expect miracles. I believe it reduces the pain or inflammation in the sciatic nerve.

    I've been stretching and exercising quite hard for treatment of either piriformis syndrom or sacroiliac joint dysfunction for a month or so now. I have been using the cream since mentioned in this forum. I believe I am very close to being able to return to all my normal activities at this point.

    The LivRelief is available for me at my local drug store over the counter. If you google the product, they have a website which has a "where to buy" tab and you should be able to find it somewhere local to you.

    Good Luck. I would love to hear back if you try it and to know what you think about it. I'm curious if it has been "working" for me due to a placebo affect or if it truely works!
  • I am wondering how you're doing? I could have written your poat (minis the scar tissue part). I am working with a NS now, hoping for answers. I suspect piriformis. He's referred me to an ortho for possible hip issues as well.

  • Hello again,

    Sorry to you new2sciaticpain for not being around for such a long time to respond. I hope you are doing well.

    I was doing great as of last fall. I went back to work full time was eased back to full duties (I work in the trades) and had no problems whatsoever. A month after assuming full duties, I even returned to playing hockey. Life was perfect, and then........

    While playing hockey one night, I took a bump from an opposing player while skating along the boards. It was a pretty aggressive bump for recreational hockey but yet not enough that I was knocked down or anything. I felt a pinch in my lower back/ buttock area but kept on skating and was well enough to finish the game. When I got home that night the pain level kept increasing. I kept going to work thinking that if I continued with my home excercises and focused alot on stretching. I also took ibuprofen and robax (muscle relaxant) that in a week or two I would recover. I informed my hockey club that I would be unable to play for at least a couple of weeks.

    The pain kept getting worse and worse until finally, I was unable to go to work. My doctor has prescribed me Lyreca, Cyclobenzaprene and an anti-inflammatory (arthrotec). This has brought my pain levels down significantly but I am still unable to return to work at full duties. All signs point to me having piriformis syndrome (again?). I have not been diagnosed by any specialist with the condition as I am currently awaiting my doctor to send me through the appropriate channels. Fortunately I have disability insurance through work and they will be attempting to send me to some sort of rehab clinic or specialist as well.

    If my problems have been the piriformis all along, I am curious as to why this keeps re-occurring as there must be an underlying cause (other abductor or adductor muscles weak?) as to why my piriformis muscle keeps irritating my sciatic nerve.

    If anyone out there has been through this condition or is currently dealing with this condition, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. I will be sure to update this post from now on as things change.

    Cheers and good luck to you all!
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