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Recovery from L5 S1 Microdiscectomy

I've read so many posts on this forum and what I've read has been invaluable, so I thought it time to ask my own question.

Starting in December I had debilitating sciatic pain all throughout my left glute and left leg to the point that if I didn't have Percocet and Neurontin, I was not getting out of the bed. And by bed I mean floor. But even staying in bed left me in agony. And sitting for any length of time at all was simply agony. But I had to keep working, so I just loaded up as much as I could handle on the Percs and got through it as best I could.

I had major issues getting Cigna to cover even an MRI, which I wasn't able to get covered until early March, after six weeks of painful and useless PT. Showed a severe herniation in L5 S1 and we progressed to epidurals. Did two of these and felt slight improvement but not nearly enough to get off the pain meds which at that point had become a big deal to me. My tolerance was through the roof and I couldn't deal with any of it another day.

So last Wednesday, April 10th, I had my microdiscectomy. The immediate results were excellent. 90% of the pain gone, with some residual sciatica and tingling but nothing I can't handle without meds. I'm no longer taking the Percs, the Neurontin and Tylenol are more than enough for now.

My question pertains to my recovery, as to what I should actually be doing right now. How often should I be getting up to walk around? Each night I've slept in my bed I have felt a tiny bit worse the next day, so tonight I'm going back to the floor and see how I feel tomorrow. Probably I'll end up ridding myself of the boxspring and just putting the mattress on the floor. What was everyone's experience with that? Is it okay to stay on the floor? Is there a consensus diet as far as what I should be absolutely avoiding or absolutely eating?

Any help or feedback would be greatly valued.
"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt"


  • I have many, many posts on the subject. If you have the time to search them out they are gonna be more detailed than this. MicroD recovery can be a long road. I am 7 mo post-op and still feeling the effects. The first 4 monts was espically hard for me. Thats about how long it took me to accept that a nice easy recovery just wasnt gonna happen. Now dont get me wrong, I am wayyyy better than I was pre-op. But we all strive to get back to 100% and unfortunatley I am not there yet.

    Walking is great early in recovery. Everybody is different so just do what you can handle. I would say it is more important to walk often than worry about distance. It took me a few days just to get past my driveway! The imprtant part is just keeping that movement going.

    Be prepared for the early struggles. In the first 2 weeks or so when all you have to do is walk & take your meds it can be (for some) pretty easy. As you wean off the meds, start PT and/or return to work that can be real tough.

    As for sleeping, do what it takes to be comfortable. If that means the floor so be it!

    Other than that just be really careful. DO NOT RUSH! You gotta let your body constantly adjust to the surgical trauma. Remember, they cut into your spine! Avoid the dreaded BLT bending lifting twisting. If you can afford to delay going back to work do so as long as you can. And when you do go back don't expect to just jump right in, ease in slowly if you can. You WILL have setbacks & flare-ups, deal with em one at a time. Do not hesitate to call your docs office. A nurse should get back to you in a timely manner with any questions you have. And when the time comes, your choice of physical therapist is just as important as your choice of surgeon. They really do take over where the docs leave off and good therapy is very important to recovery!

    Feel free to post or DM me. I am on the site quite often and am happy to help if I can!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Yesterday I did sleep on the floor and I woke up with a new pain in my lower back, a couple inches to the left of my incision. I spent a good 20 minutes freaking out before I got the nurse on the phone and she told me no big deal, just tweaked a muscle probably. But I moved my follow up appointment to next week just to be safe. No sciatic pain, just a little twinge in my back and I only notice it when I'm walking, sometimes.

    Got myself a heating pad today and it seems to be doing wonders. What I'm really thinking about right now is diet. I've never been the world's healthiest eater, and that trend is pretty much continuing. I had some granola for breakfast, soup and sandwich for lunch, chicken sandwich and potato skins for dinner, and PBJ for midnight snack. Should I be avoiding anything specific? Or targeting anything specific?
    "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt"
  • Ben_Indiana covered a lot of what I was going to say. In case your doctor didn't tell you about coughing or sneezing, try to avoid doing both! But if you can't stop them make sure you tighten your glutes and abs when you cough/sneeze. I also read that taking a pillow and holding it against your stomach can also help. But don't bend over when you cough/sneeze!

    There's nothing you need to avoid eating during your recovery. Do as Ben said, take it extra easy, listen to your body and you should be fine. I'm 2 1/2 months post op and my left leg muscles are still tight as well as my glute. I do have some leg pain every now and then too and avoid doing any bending/lifting/twisting. Next week is my last week of physical therapy and I just need to continue building my core muscles and listening to my body to determine when I can gradually add back to what I was doing before at the gym.

    Good luck!
  • I had micro micro discectomy 17 hrs ago due to severe stenosis. Been in pain for 2 months finally could not stand it anymore went on fmla. Upped my meds to 60 mg moriphine 2x a day oxycodone hydrocodone xanax! Oh ibrupropin. Nothing took away this awful pain I can't describe this like my whole left leg was getting stabbed. And I had children and this was just as bad. Woke up this morning had ambulance come get me from home to the hospital told them that I needed surgery they said lets give you a pain shot it did not work. So they finally transferred me to another hospital where I had emergency surgery and right now I'm 100%%% out of leg pain this is unbelievable!!! No pain after all this time suffering I get to go home tomorrow cause I'm having insision pain only. Lol makes me laugh considering what I've been suffering from now I can't handle this stinging lol
    I'm so glad this saved my well being was starting togo insane and career
  • SahaleeSSahalee Posts: 2
    edited 05/03/2013 - 6:04 AM
    Good for you!!! Great that your pain is pretty much gone. I sure do remember that stabbing, horrible pain. Glad to be on the mend also.
    Cecil you may want to try some protein drinks. Lots of fiber like oatmeal, various favors of yogurts And your favorite fruits. Drink tons and tons of water. Just a couple of my thoughts Hope things change for you soon:-)
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