Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

15 year old facing discectomy

My son suffered a herniation of the L5 S1 disc this past winter. We believe he suffered the injury lifting weights with his football team. He had pretty severe sciatica in his buttock area and his hamstring area of his left leg. The pain became debilitating in late may and he missed the last month of school mainly because he could not sit. We saw a neurosurgeon who immediately recommended surgery. We sought a second opinion with an ortho surgeon with a fellowship in neurosurgery. He cautioned against surgery at such a young age and proceeded with steroids and NSAID regimen followed by an epidural injection. My son never returned to normal but greatly improved over the summer to about 80 percent of what I call normal. We took bim to chiro twice weekly for about 2 months. he developed a mild case of drop foot that had almost went away. We decided he not play football this year and cautioned him sports may not be an option ever again which of course broke his heart. He is a big kid at almost 6'4" and 250 pounds. Obviously he needs to lose weight and we are working on that. We have tried to keep him active by walking and biking and chores around the house. About 3 weeks ago he had another flare up. For about a week he had severe pain in his calf muscle and tingling in his lower leg. It has been a major setback. His pain has subsided as long as he is standing or lying down and his drop foot problem has returned. His dr ordered another MRI which shows no change in the herniation. He is again missing a lot of school because he can't sit. I have been taking him to acupuncture twice a week which seems to be helping or at least he thinks so. If he continues to improve we think he can return to school on Monday. However his dr says we need to start thinking about surgery to avoid long term nerve damage. He happily referred us to another neurosurgeon in the area that seems to be well known and have an excellent reputation. This surgeon recommends micro discectomy and assures us it's a minor surgery or at least as minor as surgery can be. He also warns of long term damage and weakness in his leg. All three drs have referred to his disc as a "rather large herniation."

Obviously I do not want to see him continue to suffer or have permanent damage. He is showing improvement which is encouraging. I guess I'm just looking for support. How do we know when it's time for surgery? He is on the fence as to what he wants. His mother thinks he he should have the surgery. I suffered a similar injury at age 25 by lifting a heavy piece of equipment. I had similar symptoms but was able to recover without surgery and return to a very active lifestyle. My experience cautions me against surgery. The only alternative we have not tried is physical therapy.


  • The first is a mechanical problem- one in which there is a slippage of a vertebre or some other structural abnormality that can be repaired with surgery, and the second is when there is compression of the nerves , roots or the canal. In the case of nerve damage, injury/compression, the longer you wait, the more potential for permanent damage....so if the surgeon is recommending a microdiscectomy to remove a large herniation and your son already has drop foot, then it is something to consider doing. If the nerve is compressed or in contact with the herniation and that is removed, then the foot drop may disappear, leaving it as it is will likely leave the foot drop permanent.
  • Beth94BBeth94 Posts: 21
    edited 09/12/2013 - 6:16 PM
    I started having the same back pain when I was 14. I did not have my microdiscectomy until this year, now 19. I, like your son, missed most of my junior and senior years of high school. Really only he can decide if he is ready to have the surgery based on his pain. I would suggest having it, especially with 3 good surgeons suggesting it. If a surgeon suggests surgery without doing PT first it probably means he should go ahead and have it. I hope he starts to get some relief!
  • Welcome to the forums-- I am a 26 year old female that is 4 months out of an L5/S1 spinal fusion. I did NOT want to get the surgery when it was suggested due to the fear of yet another 'failed back surgery' that I had heard so much about. However, with the issues I had at my L5/S1 issue and the pain I was in constantly, I knew it was time. I had a little more than your son has- a fracture which is what warranted the fusion. If I had just had the herniation, slight drop foot, compressed nerve root, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis they would've done a microdiscectomy! I suffered for 4 years in pain, seeing a chiro with no relief (they didnt do an MRI which meant that all they knew of was a 'slipped vertebrae' that they were convinced they could fix with adjustments). In October, 2012 I saw an orthopedic and went through with the non-surgical treatments when I received the diagnoses I did. However, all of those failed (injections, PT, etc) and I was in the OR on 5/1/13. Since I waited so long my nerve is pretty damaged and is taking a LONG time to rebuild and the pain comes and goes. However, I am SO glad that I got the surgery as I know it was definitely worth it in the long run to getting a normal life back.

    Let us know how the treatments go- and if a microdiscectomy will help with those issues, relieve the foot drop and pain that your son is experiencing, I'd say go for it before more damage occurs! :)
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
Sign In or Register to comment.