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What convinced you that you needed a micro-diskectomy?

Hello, I'm new to these forums. My problems started 3 years ago when I started seriously going to the gym. My doctor thought it was IT band syndrome. Did therapy, massage and it just didn't get better. I became inactive and the pain lessened, but I stated packing on the pounds. The pain came back again and I ended up at PT again. My therapist was so good and she really pushed it being a back issue and sure enough I had a herniated disk. I tried McKenzie, massage and chiro and nothing helped. I did a few ESI's and they were great until they wore off.

Since my last ESI in May, things have been gettting progressively worse. I've gained roughly 70lbs in the last year and a half. I've been getting pain, tingling and burning in way more areas and severe stifffness when rising from a chair. Recently I've been getting a hint of saddle numbness and increasing weakness (I've fallen twice). The other day, I went to get up from my desk at work and I coudln't bear weight on my affected leg. It was very weak and felt like someone was jamming a bunch of red hot nails in my calf. I've been in such denial. I've convinced myself time and time again that its only temporary and I can fix this myself.

To get to my questions, what wat the last straw for you? Did you deny that you really had a problem? Did you feel better after surgery? Do you feel it was wortI h it? Would you do it again?

I would so appreciate some input. I'm so anxious about all of this. It's been impacting my work more and more, and I really love my job.



  • Welcome to Spine Health. There are so many good people on here and so much great information. I hope you find the answers you are looking for to ease your anxiety.

    I had a microdiscectomy on T7-8 on May 24, 2012. I had been having severe pain in mid back for months and when it wrapped around rib cage and on left side of chest and thought I was having heart problems I finally went to doctor. All heart tests came back negative. During a heart cath I started having excrutiating mid back pain. Primary did x-rays and immediately sent referral to my NS who ordered MRI and this showed herniation with severe cord compression. A CT scan showed calcification so was sent to NS who specialized in thoracic surgeries. Thank God he was able to go in through the back but my pain continued even after surgery and I am now 9 months post-op and still have not gone back to work and have chronic pain. Would I do again? Probably because my cord compression was severe and surgeon wanted fixed before permanent damage was done. Did it help the pain??? No but it did get rid of compression. I go back at end of month to see surgeon to see if anything that can be done for pain as I have tried ESIs, RFA and pain meds. I can not do PT due to other issues in lumbar region as well as knee issues which I just had surgery for 3 weeks ago. I don't want you to think that my experience is typical because there are some on here and hopefully you will meet who have had good experiences with micros. Again welcome to our world :)

  • I think it realy depends how much the disc is protruding and will it go back in to place enough to stay off the nerve,
    The micro d surgery is the least invasive procedure and when all alternative treatments have failed then often this surgery helps,

    Many do ok with this surgery and not a very long recovery usualy as long as everything goes as expected,
    As long as not too much has to be removed off the disc to cause it to leak or go bad all is good,

    But every surgery should be the last option if the posibility is there it can get beter on it's own,
    This is why more then 1 opinion is usualy good to have as each doctor sometimes feels diferent about if surgery is realy the best option or not,

    Best of luck, Let us know what the outcome is if you decide to have it done,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • samblue said:

    To get to my questions, what wat the last straw for you? Did you deny that you really had a problem? Did you feel better after surgery? Do you feel it was wortI h it? Would you do it again?

    I would so appreciate some input. I'm so anxious about all of this. It's been impacting my work more and more, and I really love my job.
    I couldn't stand up straight. I was hunched over at a 45° angle and it hurt massively to stand / walk.

    The surgeon pointed out to me that my right calf had shrank. It never occurred to me to look at my calf but sure enough, it was much smaller than the other one. It was a neural impingement that atrophied it.

    At first, it was not so much denial, but anger. I was so mad that I was having this terrible burning pain that would not go away for nuthin.

    Yes, I felt better after surgery.

    The kind of surgery that I had, I would do again in a heartbeat.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Thanks so much for the comments. It's very helpful. I can relate to the anger too. At 32 I've have had nothing but pain my entire adult life due to multiple abdominal surguries (had a benign pacreatic tumor). When I was going to the gym I finally felt like I had control of my body. As soon as I started feeling confident in myself and that I might be able to overcome the odds, this back mess started. I've always tried to stay positive and fake it if necesary. I can't fake it anymore. I need to let go of what happend in the past and face the present.

    First step is getting an ESI. I'm a little terrified to get another one becaue they nicked the dura the last time and I had the spinal headache and some major nerve irritation that caused terrible muscle spasicity in my leg for over two weeks. I know it was a fluke thing, but it was really scary not knowing if it would get better or not. The NP did this injection and the doctor said he would to the injections for me for now on.

    I'm also going to call and make my appointment with the neurosurgoen to see what he has to say. I worked on a general surgery floor for five years, so I know how surgerons fix things, with surgery! I will certainly listen to what he has to say and will decide what is best. At least I will know what my options are if I don't improve once the injection wears off.

    Thanks again for listening to my overthought rantings. Sometimes I'm a little too insightful.
  • NHbackNNHback Posts: 35
    edited 02/14/2013 - 8:45 AM
    What honestly convinced me was the MRI that showed that my disc was beyond 'bulging' but had a rupture that was hanging on the rest of the disc by a thread, but essentially free floating and pressing on my S1 nerve root...

    In the month I was essentially bedridden waiting surgery, the pain subsided a great deal, although the numbness in the ball of my foot and calf continued to increase...

    ...and I had that picture to remind me that the likelyhood of the disc "returning" to a point where it was off the nerve for good was about NIL.

    I saw two surgeons who both were very informative and certainly did not push surgery on me, but they did tell me that the only was this would resolve on its own was for the body to break down the erupted piece of disk and that could take 2-3 years.

    I had a microD on 10/3 and now 4+ months later Ive returned to just about full activities, including lots of walking, stretching, core exercises and even some light weights. I have some residual back/hip/leg pain that quite honestly I may have had for years that I just ignored day to day. Its just that now after the whole experience, Im keyed into every little symptom that could be back/disc/nerve related.

    Yes, I would do the surgery again.

    My only other piece of advice would be to expect a realistic recovery. A lot of literature will say 2-3weeks and "back to work"/"back to normal activities" except heavy lifting, twisting, etc... Well, I did return to a desk job at 5 weeks and the first month or so was tough just to sit for any length of time and not have the opportunity to lie down for an hour or ice. It really took past the 3 month stage to feel anywhere near normal again. PT helped a lot - not only to start the physical recovery process, but also the mental "recovery." As my surgeon said,'PT is very important just so that you can start to trust you rback again to be able to do some activity and, in a controlled environment, learn how you are going to respond to those activities.'

    Good luck!!


  • steven61ssteven61 Posts: 37
    edited 02/18/2013 - 4:49 PM
    I have been dealing with bulging discs and back pain for 25 years. But the normal pattern was a bad month every year or so. I would try to manage it with religious stretching and strenghthening. Something changed in the past 6 months. July-Agust were terrible, and in November it got excruciating. That is when I think it finally stopped bulging and herniated. Sure enough an MRI in December showed a herniated disc at L5-S1. I saw the NS 10 days later and had surgery 4 weeks after that. The pain was so bad that I was not able to function. There was really no other choice.
    Microdiscectomy L5-S1; Jan. 28, 2013
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