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urination pain and urgency post op MICRODISCECTOMY L5-S1

I'm writing to request information from anyone who has experienced this. I'm three weeks post-op which allegedly went well, however, there was "more damage" than anticipated from the MRI and examination. Per the surgical dictations report, "the thecal sac and S1 never root were judged to be completely decompressed." This presumably was the case for two months....

My surgeon has a good reputation, but I'm concerned about a lot of things including continued leg pain and urination pain and urgency. I've read they can snip nerves during the procedure that control bowl and bladder function so a bit frightened and depressed.

I had horrific butt and leg pain for over 2 months prior to the surgery. I tried oral steriods and shots prior to the surgery with minimal impact (frankly a complete waste of time and money; also, extremely painful with a very low ROI--pain got worse for 7-8 days, then better by NMT 30--40% for ONLY 3-4 days after each shot).

Post op all pain from the knee down was gone, but I still had hamstring pain and surgical site pain. The site is healing nicely with no signs of infection, however I still have the hamstring pain, though not nearly as bad as before. I remain concerned since I've lately been experiencing erratic pain; it has worked its way back down the leg, sometimes making my foot numb in places and shooting pains in calf and butt/back region. This is irregular and the only constant pain is still in the hamstring and back/butt if I cough/sneeze.

I have not been walking daily primarily because I can't dress myself or put my own socks/shoes on,etc. I do have tools I can use, but it is cumbersome and I've only tried it once. I'm planning on doing this daily now, as weather permits, to avoid scar tissue and hopefully promote healing.

Prior to my discharge, the hospital wanted to use a catheter to empty my bladder; fortunately I was able to go again to get enough out to avoid it. Since I got home three weeks ago yesterday, I have woken to an extremely urgent need to urinate and, upon going, found it to be painful. I believe I'm not fully emptying my bladder as I have to go again within the hour and it is not a small amount. I'm wondering why this is and whether it will resolve itself or is a symptom of a larger problem.

Has anyone had this same problem (L5-S1 herniation, surgery (microdiscectomy) and outcome (less pain but still there and occasionally quite bad+bladder issue)? If so, what did you do? What was the prognosis and ultimate outcome?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences and insight.



  • Hi Miller, Welcome to spine health. I was wondering could it be a bladder infection? Have you ever had one before? It burns when you pee, a constant feeling that you have to go, and when you do go you go a little bit. Just a thought. The doc can give you medication that will take care of it if it is. Also cranberry gel caps are great for prevention. I hope you feel better real soon!
  • Hi miller , i have had 2 operations on l4/l5 , i now have to self catherterize as i do not empty my bladder properly, im in retention .... A recent mri has shown the discs have bulged again, i also have problems with other discs ... Im in constant pain , iwake up to pain and go to sleep in pain ..... Ask docter to do a bladder scan , tnis will show if your retaining urine even thou you have just emptied your bladder .... Take care :-)
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I know this post is old but I'm going through this 8 days post op!
    What was your outcome! 
    I'm a bit worried about this too!
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