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Post-disc Replacement & Micro-discectomy Complications

Hi there,

I am a 42 year old woman living in London. In the last year I have had a disc replacement at C5/6 as well as one at L4/5 (which didn't work - he got the wrong disc!) so I had a further micro-discectomy at L5/S1 - all left sided.

Since the last operation in June I have had constant hip pain (it was also there before) and in the last six weeks my left foot has pins & needles and a feeling like I've got a wad of something attached to the sole. I am now also getting pins and needles in my right foot. I have pain whenever I sit, just under my left buttock - it feels like I'm sitting on a small stone.

My surgeon sent me to a hip specialist who sent me to a radiologist who injected and dry needled me for tendonitis. I still can't lie on my left side.

My physio feels I had unnecessary surgery and/or the surgeon screwed up and has referred me for a second opinion.

It's nearly six months since the last op. Is this all normal? Is he overreacting? Am I?! I don't know what to expect any more.

Thanks for any advice or experience you can offer.


  • First of all, I can't believe that in this day and age, a surgeon went in and replaced the WRONG DISC!?!? So sorry to hear that.

    As far as your post-op symptoms... I can tell you that I have some aches in both my hips after a left-side L5/S1 microD 9 weeks ago. I also have some pain in both butt-cheeks as well as a nervy 'pinch' once in a while in my left cheek still. But most of the pain is very low level and not searing nerve pain but muscular as well as some SI joint irritation. So I dont know what level your pain is at, or if it should be around 6 months after surgery... but it certainly is normal and common for several months after surgery at least from my own experience and what Ive read and heard.

    The part of your post that I really wanted to address is your symptom that in the last six weeks you have developed that feeling of something under the sole of your foot. As my symptomsprogressed prior to surgery, not only did the pain increase down the leg but toward the end my toes, ball of my foot, and side of my calf all went numb. And the sensation under the ball of my foot was exactly as you describe. So, my only comment would be it may be a sign that there is some nerve impingement going on causing "increased" symptoms. I would have it checked out based on that if you can, perhaps a follow up MRI?

    good luck
  • I too have had the foot pain as you described and that was quantified by an EMG as progressive (ongoing) nerve damage.

    Suggest you get additional opinions from top surgeons this time. (Can't be top if did the wrong disc)

    Also need to take accountability for what happens by learning and understanding the techniques and jargon to ensure what is happening is in your best interest and feels right.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 12/07/2012 - 4:54 AM
    Hi Limone,
    and welcome to Spine Health.
    I hope I am correct in thinking that all 3 of your surgeries have been in the last 12 months. If that is the case, that is an enormous assault on your body, and it is going to take time to recover from it.
    After my lumbar fusion and decompression of L4/5, I had all sorts of pains all over the place as the nerves recovered and healed. However, if you are having increasing pins and needles in your feet and pain in your buttock then you should inform your doctor. I would suggest to ask to be referred for a second opinion. I have just re-read and seen that your physio has already referred you for a second opinion. I don't think that your physio is overreacting at all.

    I have just had a 2 level fusion on my neck and chose a different, neurosurgeon to do that.

    I am also in the UK, and am just south of London.
    I also had my ortho spine surgeon start to operate on the level above where he was supposed to be doing my lumbar fusion. Fortunately, he realised when he saw that there wasn't a problem at that level, and then did an x-ray and started to work on the correct level. It does happen - but it shouldn't as they are supposed to check levels using x-ray before they start to operate so that it doesn't happen.

    Can I suggest that you try to get a copy of your surgery report. Your GP has probably got a copy of it and you are entitled to have one too. You will probably learn more of what happened from that. I know I certainly did from mine. My surgeon denied that he had made any mistake, but his report stated that he had 'inadvertantly' cut a window in the L3/4 level and found no stenosis or spondylolisthesis so checked levels using x-ray and then did the surgery on L4/5 where it was known that the problem were.

    Do ask if you have any more questions. This is a great place for support, although there are not many who have had surgery on the wrong level! This is very unusual!

    I hope you get some answers soon, but think it will probably come from another spine specialist.
    Take care,
  • Welcome to spine health. I am so sorry to hear about your problems with the multiple surgeries that you have had, incredible that your surgeon operated on the wrong level :(
    Within 7 months I had a discectomy/lami and then an artificial disc replacement at L5/S1. Unfortunately my pain has also remained. I have hip pain in both hips, especially during the night and first thing in the morning, it then settles in more in my low back, buttocks. I have nerve damage and have a completely numb left foot. Sitting is near impossible due to pain in coccyx.

    I am so glad to hear that you are going for a second opinion. Are you seeing a fellowship trained orthopedic or neurosurgeon?
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Thanks very much for all your comments, I really appreciate them.

    For those of you still in pain, may I ask are you doing any physio or stretching exercises and do they help? I get some help from them, I just thought that by now I'd be free to get fit again, rather than constantly fire fighting! It's been 20 months since all this started and I really want to get back to normal.

    The muscles in my left leg have significantly atrophied due to the nerve impingement and under EMG the nerves in that leg responded half as well as those in my right. I suppose I'll know more tomorrow - I'm seeing an orthopaedic surgeon with special training in neurosurgery tomorrow so I'll let you know what he says!

    Thanks again.

  • DaveFusionDDaveFusion Posts: 476
    edited 12/11/2012 - 3:07 AM
    There Is a great post in the FAQ - "38 Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Before Having Back Surgery".

    May be extra ideas in there for you. Remember to write down your questions for maximum benefit from the consult.

    My spinal rehab PT has had me doing specific exercises for my atrophied muscles for strength and endurance.

    Let us know how you go with surgeon.
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