I am recovering from my microdiscectomy, and have found these forums an incredible source of information. I wanted to give back a little bit and tell my story, because I think there may be someone that goes through what I went through, and hopefully they will find encouragement with my progress.
I am 33, about 20 lbs overwieght, but otherwise in good health. 11 days ago I had a microdiscectomy for a herniated disc at L4-L5. My main symptom of this herniation was constant pain in my right leg down to my foot. I couldn't walk very far without having to take a break. I tried PT as well as an inversion table, but those only helped to relieve some of my back pain but did nothing for my leg. I herniated my disc about 3 months prior to the surgery lifting heavy air conditioners up a couple flights of stairs. The herniation was severe, and my neurosurgeon suggested that we go straight to the surgical route because he didn't think waiting it out or epiderals would accomplish much, if anything. I was nervous about the procedure, but even more afraid of living a life in pain.
I woke up from the procedure pain free in my leg. I felt great. I thought: "mission accomplished." My wife said I was grinning ear to ear that night. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with intense leg pain, worse than before the surgery. It was the worst emotional blow I had ever had. I got on here to see what was typical the day after, and after reading a lot of people's stories I realized there is no typical recovery: everyone is different. One mistake I had made was having unrealistic expectations. Reading others stories helped he cope with the let down of not being pain-free in the leg immediately after surgery. I really think if you do have this procedure, don't expect instant relief. You may be one of the lucky few who have a swift recovery, or you may not. Go in with realistic expectations and I think you'll fare better emotionally after the surgery.
My pain continued until my follow-up with the surgeon at 7 days post-op. I told my surgeon that I was worried I may have re-herniated or the surgery had failed. He told me it was too early to tell, and to give it time. He told me if the pain got worse or remained in the next few weeks, come back in for an MRI. I was comforted at least that there was a plan in case the surgery had failed.
Now at day 11, I am happy to report that my leg pain has dissipated and feels much better than before the surgery. I have found that taking Advil every 4 hours does wonders for me. If I skip a dose or when I wake up, I feel the pain creep back. So I know the pain is there, but it is getting better. If you haven't tried Advil for the pain post-op, I recommend it, or anything with ibuprofen. I was prescribed oxycontin, and even on that the pain was still lingering. The Advil seems to help me much much more.
I'll follow up in this thread in a week or two with my progress. My main goal here is to give people some optimism post-op if they are still in pain. I was miserable 7 days post-op. Now it is only 4 days later I am feeling a whole world better. I am also prepared to have a reverse in the pain, and I think I will be able to handle it emotionally if it does happen. Regardless, I am not going to give up, and I'll just take this 1 day at a time. After all of this, I feel for anyone living with pain. If you are a candidate for microdiscectomy, I would suggest at least thinking about it. People have had bad experiences, and like all surgeries there are risks. But at the same time, it could offer a chance at a life without pain. For me, that chance was worth it.