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L5-S1 discectomy

Hi everyone,

I joined this forum to seek information for my daughter. In April 2012, she underwent a L5-S1 discectomy and spinal fusion. She did well initially; her leg pain was relieved which was a blessing. Around July, she started to experience the leg and back pain again. Her surgeon sent her for an MRI and told her it was "residual nerve pain" and was completely normal. Since that time, the pain has steadily increased to the point where she can't get out of bed some days. She recently went to another specialist in NY, who reviewed her MRI from July 2012 and told her that she has a herniated, protruding disc at L5-S1. Apparently a partial discectomy was done instead of a complete. This doctor recommends another discectomy to remove the half of disc and he wants to put a cage around her spine as well as taking a piece of her hip to put in the disc space. I am worried sick about her. She is so young, it's heartbreaking to see her suffer so much. She was just married last November and I can't imagine her being able to have children with this pain. My question is, have any of you heard of a partial discectomy being performed? I can't imagine why they wouldn't have just removed the entire disc since she was opened up anyway. Also, the thought of the cage scares the daylights out of me. I hate the thought of the rods that are there from the fusion, I don't want to see some other type of hardware added to that. I am worried sick and haven't been able to sleep at night. Any information or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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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
  • I won't cast judgement on your situation or actions, but I will say that for me, there are days with more pain than not.

    The nerve will take a long time to heal (12-18 months is what I'm hearing for me). Some of the healing is giving me new pains/sensations. It is a long road with ups and downs.

    My only suggestion is to not be hasty or rash in any decisions.
    L5-S1 herniation (10mm), April 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy May 1st 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy April 18th 2016

  • I think that alot us understand, as a parent, we don't ever want to see our children, no matter how old they are, suffering, and would do anything to take on their suffering for ourselves. So , we understand your concerns.
    Once a nerve is compressed in the spine, and it is relieved, it is common for the pain to increase as well as the stinging, burning pain that in some ways can feel worse than it did before the surgery. It can take some time before it subsides, but there are things that you can do in the meantime to tame it a bit, there are several medications that might help, cymbalta, lyrica and gabapentin are all medications used to treat neuropathic pain......once your daughter gets to the right dose, she might find that her pain is much less and then after some time, she can go off them and see how the nerve pain is afterwards. It can take up to two years for nerve pain to diminish, so you both have to be a little patient. As far as pregnancy goes, having the rods should not impact that, they really are quite tiny in that area.
    I would be very careful about rushing into yet another surgery............it is common for there to be some disc left despite a fusion . This is because it helps stabilize the disc space, and during a discectomy, it is the area of the disc that is shaved off, not all of the disc so that might explain the findings on the MRI....
    While I agree that a second, third and sometimes more opinion is always a good thing, in your daughter's case, I would wait a bit before considering it......
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