I just wanted to pop back in and share my experience since my microdiscectomy. I'm 24, I had my microdiscectomy last August, after suffering with a herniated L5-S1 since 2009. My surgery was done late in the day, and afterwords I was rough. They had to keep me in the hospital that night because I was in ALOT of pain - although not sciatic pain, that was all gone, just pain from the surgery itself. In general the first week was kind of rough. I stayed in a hotel with my grandmother, mother, and brother all staying with me at various points in time. I pretty much took pain meds around the clock that week, really only waking up to eat and walk some. But gradually, things eased off. I measured my progress by walking in the hall of the hotel. First couple of days I could only make it about a third of the hall and back. By the end of the week, I was doing multiple laps around the hall (guests and housekeeping who had heard my story would cheer me on lol). The second week they dialed my pain meds back from oxycontin to hydrocodone. I also wasn't having to take it that often, mainly at night so I could relax and sleep. The weather was good, so I was able to get out every day and walk in the neighborhood. It started with me just going down the street and back, then gradually looping around the block. I had gotten a pedometer (upon the advice of members of this site), so I could measure my progress and try to improve every day. At six weeks they decided my progress was excellent and I could start physical therapy. I cannot stress how important this was for me. My physical therapist was amazing, and made the biggest difference in the world. Even though I was doing relatively well, we had a lot to work on. My stride had changed significantly since the surgery. I could only take short steps, and my hips seemed essentially frozen. She worked with me to loosen up those muscles, and we had to basically retrain the muscles in my lower back and right leg to fire in the proper order. I gradually got stronger and more flexible. I was in therapy from September till the end of November. By that point I was feeling better than I had in years, and she worked with me to create a workout regimen that I could continue at the gym. I was able to really enjoy the holiday season. Then I had my setback. At the beginning of January I strained my right hip flexor muscles. At times the muscles would get caught, especially when going from a sit to stand position, and when they were hurting it made it really rough to walk or put weight on my right leg. I ended up back in therapy from January until the end of March. They were able to get me through that as well. I am just now getting back into the gym, but overall I think I'm doing great. I feel about 90% to where I want to be, and my doctors and the PT believe the other 10% will simply come with time. Here are a few general observations / tips that I have learned from my ordeal:
• As I said earlier, I was pretty stiff from surgery for a good while. I started out only being able to sit for about 20 minutes for meal times. That gradually got better through my first six weeks. Two months later I was able to go to a movie at the theater (although that pushed me a little too far).
• I no longer have sciatic pain, and haven't since the surgery. I do occasionally overwork the muscles and get soreness, right now I have to take a muscle relaxer or NSAID about once every two weeks.
• Some of the changes from surgery were pretty temporary, but it has caused some more permanent changes. I used to sleep on my right side primarily. After surgery I could no longer do that, so I now sleep almost exclusively on my left side. I also had to upgrade to a tempur pedic mattress (I wasn't thrilled with my mattress before surgery, so this had been a long time coming). Also strangely enough (although I never asked my doctor about this), I used to sleep much hotter, and never with socks on. After surgery I always wear pajama bottoms and socks, I don't like to be hot, but I can't go to sleep anymore if I feel cold.
• The SINGLE best investment I made to prepare for surgery was a 24" shoe horn that I bought from walgreens. I still use it today. I couldn't bend down to tie my shoes for a long time after surgery. We tied my tennis shoes and just left them tied, I could easily slip in and out of them with my shoe horn. You will want some comfortable and supportive shoes to wear for all of the walking.
• I also got a loofah back brush with a long handle that helped me shower for a while after surgery (couldn't bend to get my legs and feet).
• I could not truthfully drive myself anywhere, until well into the third week. A support system is definitely helpful.
• Ipads are great for downtime in bed, and I got this table from amazon so that I could easily eat or prop my laptop on while laying down
One final important point I want to stress: don't get discouraged by setbacks. They happen. But you get through them with good doctors, good therapists, a good attitude, and support from people who care about you. Now I'm doing great, I'm working again, able to travel, and they have even told me I can take up Zumba if i want to
I hope this helps someone, because I was helped so much by these forums and all of the helpful advice. Link removed, solicitation not permittedPost Edited by The Spine-Health Moderator Team