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Discectomy recovery - slower than expected

I will try to keep this short, so here goes...

I injured my back pretty bad almost a year ago. I dealt with the pain and worked around it as much as I could. Finally decided to get an MRI in April. MRI came back with my L4 herniated and L5 slightly herniated. I had severe nerve pain in my leg as well as a loss of my achilles reflex in my foot. The worst part was not being able to bend and lift anything at all. Surgery was recommended as it had been an ongoing issue.

Fast forward to June 13 and I had a two level discectomy that went very well. After about a week the nerve pain subsided and I started physical therapy. Physical therapy did not seem to help much if at all despite attending 3 days a week for 6 weeks.

Now, I am still having severe pressure on my lower back when going from flexion to extension. Any bending feels great, but the moment I begin extension it feels as though my spine is being squeezed. I have tried getting in touch with my surgeon but have had zero luck.

I recently spoke to a friend who works in the surgical field and he said it is most likely just my muscles healing. He told me that because they are so weak that my spine has little support so that would cause the pressure - especially since the area of surgery was twice as large as a normal discectomy it will take that much longer to heal.

I was hoping someone might be able to shed some light on my situation as I am getting frustrated and somewhat down on the length of recovery.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 08/30/2013 - 1:24 AM
    Hi, I had the same surgery on 7/12, only on the L5S1. Im really surprised that you started PT just one week after, and for 3x per week. My surgeon said no PT until day 30 post op, and I only go 1x per week. But anyways, I agree with your friend. My PT said that Im very stiff and weak in my trunk due to being so inactive over the past 6 mos from back issues. It will take time to get back to having more normal strength and flexibility.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
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