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27 y/o male L5-S1 Microdisectomy Questions


I injured my back roughly 3 years ago and it blew out my L5-S1 disc when I was 24. The disc is extruded and is hitting my right side sciatic nerve. I have been living on Ibuprofen and Hydrocodone (sparingly/as needed) for the past 3 years or so. The pain has gone from bearable to unbearable at times due to the sciatic. I don't have a lot of back pain, it is usually just pain related to my sciatic nerve. My flexibility is completely gone in my right leg and I usually walk with a small limp. I did something a few weekends ago that really inflamed my nerve area and I had to go to the Emergency Department. They gave me a 10mg morphine injection, prednisone, hydrocodone, and methocarbomal. As of 4-5 months ago, I have decided to get surgery. My surgery is scheduled in less than 2 weeks.

I am seeing a neurosurgeon in the Plano, TX area that has been voted as one of America's Top Neurosurgeons year after year by the American Way magazine and in 2011 Newsweek named him as one of the top 15 leaders in neurosurgery. He has performed surgery on several athletes and pro-body builders.

He said that the surgery would relieve my pain, but I would have to be very careful not to reherniate the disc.

At my age (I am pretty healthy) and going to an experienced neurosurgeon, what should my recovery time be before I can go back to a desk job? .

Will I ever be able to be active again (basketball, rock climbing, jiu jitsu) without reherniating my disc?



  • DaveFusionDDaveFusion Posts: 476
    edited 12/07/2012 - 10:19 PM
    Those are good questions. Suggest that we are all different. And I believe discs can repair until mid 20's. and younger healthy people heal very fast.

    Your surgeon is the best person to answer these questions.

    However, as you have read in many posts here, further damage to your discs can have even greater life changing consequences than what you have had for the last 3 years. Do you really really want to risk it and live with consequences?

    However, it's your life. I hope you take good care of it and live it pain free.
  • Thanks Dave. When you say further damage do you mean by continuing to perform athletic activity post-surgery or do you mean by choosing to get the surgery in the first place?

  • ben_indianabben_indiana Posts: 288
    edited 12/11/2012 - 6:06 AM
    32 yrs old. Had L5S1 MicroD Sept 6th. So I am 3 months post-op. Remember, everyone is different.

    I will tell you to expect a 4-6 month recovery time, but that depends on what you definition of "recovered" is. I did return to my desk job after 2 weeks, I did ease in. 20hrs 1st week, 25 2nd, 30 3rd, and so on. It was not easy. Alternating between sitting & standing much needed. I have also been doing PT since 2 weeks. They have helped me alot in understanding what I can & cannot do. But it is a constant learning process. Just 3 weeks ago I was able to swim. When I tried that 8 weeks ago I caused myself a 4 week setback. I am just now feeling good with a 1x per week gym visit. Treadmill( walking ), exercise bike, a bit of elliptical. Just this weekend I went on the Bball court, did some dribbling & jogging, took some shots. It felt good, that was the first time I did any jogging. Alot of walking will be in your future. Gotta do it almost everyday, esp early in recovery.

    As I said, everyone is different. I could not imagine rock climbing, jujitsu, or even actually playing basketball anytime soon. I am hoping by summer I could play some basketball. Jumping does not seem like a good idea yet.

    I wouldnt say those things will never be in your future again. But dont set yourself up for failure. Recovery is a word that means so much. You want to be back to normal. But it takes time, probably more time than any of us wants to deal with.You also know how bad your pain has been, mine was miserable. I REALLY dont want to deal with that, never again if I can help it.

    You have to learn whats okay & whats not. I kinda had to learn the hard way. At least 2 setbacks and more flare-ups than I can count. Stress, lots of stress. This forum is great to deal with that and the depression. 3 months post-op though, I am happy with where I am at. 1 month ago I was not. Again, its a process. I am very excited to see how "normal" i will be in another 3, 6, 9 months. I plan to be hiking, fishing, playing Bball in the summer. Jogging, throwing the football, these things sound awesome and attainable. I have never done wrestling or mma or rock climbing, so I dont expect those things in my future. But I do not think they are unattainable as long as your timeframes are realistic. Now would those things be risky? I would say yes. But life is risky and we all gotta make our own choices.

    I have posted quite a bit in the past 4-5 months, look em up when you can. They will give you alot of info on my recovery process.

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • NHbackNNHback Posts: 35
    edited 12/11/2012 - 6:20 AM
    Nobody here will be able to tell you with certainty the answers to your questions.

    As far as returning to a desk job, some poeple return in 2-3 weeks, some take 6-8 weeks or longer. Personally I returned to a desk job parttime at 5 weeks. But remember, "just" a desk job involves a lot of sitting - which is hard on the lower back. Even trying to get up and move regularly, I find that the sitting involved at work irritates the nerve (S1) that I had impinged.

    In regards to the activities you mentioned - I would say that quite frankly its a "maybe." It certainly is not a "no." The only way to find out will be to recover, heal, an dslowly increase your activity level and intensity of activities and see how you personally respond. From what I've read/found - the correlation between future activity and additional issues/herniations, etc is very hard to correlate and is very individual. I am only 2mos, 1 wk post-surgery so its still early for me.

    I think what Dave is referring to is pushing the activity level and re-herniating at the same location. Once a disc ruptures, the outer 'shell' never truly heals completely so it is always a weak spot. If you re-herniate, depending upon how many times and how severely, you may lose enough disc material that the only surgical options are disc replacement or fusion. Again this is a patient's (my) understanding so you should really get more information from your medical team.

    What Im finding is that one person's results and recovery can be similar, or quite different from another person's when dealing with lumbar microDs and that is why I say that what is in your immediate and longterm future really cannot be foreseen. You just have to see where the path goes day by day.

    Best of luck!

  • You guys said it well.

    I saw a statistic in a book I'm reading recently that said when a herniation consists of several large disc fragments, then there is 25% chance of recurrent herniation at the same site at a later time. For smaller fragments, I believe the stat (from a recent post) was 14% for those with low BMI.

    And sitting was worst thing for me post MD and post fusion. If i sit for awhile, i can't do much more than 30 mins before i have to stand and move.
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