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Need advice on whether to have microdiscectomy

I'm scheduled in a week to have a microdiscectomy. When I first had sciatica, the pain was persistent, and very limiting (in about Feb. this year). In the last month, the symptoms have decreased to the point that I know it's still there, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was. I exercise a lot, but still can't do any high impact cardio stuff, bike ride, or horse ride, but I can do weight training and low impact workouts. Because of the improvement, I don't know whether or not to have my scheduled surgery or just postpone it in the hope that it will eventually get better enough to allow me to do the things I want to do. My surgeon said that if it impacted on my lifestyle then I should get it done, but I'll still be off all forms of exercising for at least 6 weeks (according to him) then I'll need to gradually build up to where I was. Any advice would be welcome!
Claire McF


  • I'm 34 and do manual labor. I've been out of work since September with pinched sciatic nerve and herniated at L5-S1. Low back to heel was numb for 4 months till I got the microD. It failed for me instantly. I'm told its quite rare for that. Now I'm getting a fusion in three weeks. Generally these probs wont go away by themselves and 95% of ppl feel great after the micro. I'm in worse pain now than 7 months ago. My disc keeps spilling out and I have a large herniation. I'm not sure if the fusion is the right way to go but my prob won't go away by itself
    Left side MicroD l5-s1 2/7/13. Re herniated immediately
    Revision bilateral MicroD and posterior lumbar decompression 9/9/13. Failed. L5-S1 fusion on 3/6/14.
  • DNiceDDNice Posts: 1,962
    edited 05/28/2013 - 1:50 PM
    They say failed MD's are rare but not as rare as they say.
    Anyhow, what should you do? really your decision but I will say you are thinking about it right. You are getting better, right? What else have you tried? Any epidural type shots? PT? I tend to think that if you are seeing improvement, why not try to stay the course.

    Remember, micro-surgery or not, back surgery is a big deal. Once you operate there is no going back to 'un-do' the surgery. You can always reschedule....so why not give it another month? Is the numbness also reduced? If so, then definitely my choice would be to postpone.

    No matter, the surgery is optional so make sure you are sure you are convinced it's your only option.
    I guess weigh the risks of doing it now (what could go wrong with the surgery vs. possible benefits) vs. waiting a month or 2.

    Personally, I would wait if you are seeing improvement but I'm very conservative and had a failed initial MD and even the 2nd one was a slow recovery but luckily avoided a fusion.

    Good luck.
  • I've tried PT but not the shots. Basically, this is an old back injury where a fair bit of arthritis has also set in as well as disc bulge and mild herniation, with the sciatica sometimes flaring up. The sciatica got much worse at the start of the year, with a lovely big herniation, but it seems to be improving. I've reconciled myself to having some back pain though, even without the operation, due to the arthritis, etc. But I've been getting by with it - the surgeon said it may be up to 2 years though before I could do the things I want to do - I'm just wary about being pushed into surgery as the last doc. recommended fusion for my problems and I managed to avoid this with lots of PT. Thank you guys for your advice!
    Claire McF
  • I had no choice. The sciatica was so bad for me that I could barely sleep. So it was a no brainer. On the flip side, I was herniated for 2 years, I tried very hard to avoid surgery. By the time I had surgery the herniation had hardened and the nerve was damaged.

    There is no easy answer, you just gotta make the best choice for yourself based on whats going on in your life right now.

    Good Luck!!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • It's up to you, but don't do it if you feel like you are improving. It may only end up delaying it in the long run, but if it can wait a few years it's worth it. My surgeon said he only recommends surgery for people who "just about grab him by the collar and say You have got to help me".

    Once you operate your back is never the same, so give thought to waiting another month and see what happens. Good luck!
  • I am going through same type situation, surgery set for June 13th, but feeling much better. I don't know if it's because I m worried, but pain is not like it was
  • DNiceDDNice Posts: 1,962
    edited 06/07/2013 - 2:10 PM
    that I would be better even walking into the hospital. I had lost so much strength in my leg (not to mention the feeling) and had so much pain I was limping but that day walking into the hospital I had hoped the adrenaline would have had me overcome it because I told my husband I would have delayed the surgery.

    But nope.

    I had the failed MD (my 2nd surgeon thinks I re-herniated as soon as they closed me and flipped me back over). The 2nd surgery was a decision between revision and fusion. I went for revision but was in such a bad place pain wise (and still limping) that I knew I didn't have a choice.

    I hope all those making a decision feel confident. If you aren't confident, reschedule.
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