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Microdiscectomy at L5 S1

WarrieWWarrie Posts: 1
edited 10/02/2013 - 7:29 AM in Recovering from Surgery
HI Everyone,

Would like some advice/comments good and bad with regard to my experience of recent surgery.First off here's my story.

Twelve years ago I experienced a pro-laspsed disc which left a snag pushing into my sciatic nerve. Despite having two epidural injections and a nerve root compression this left me with permananet sciatica in my right leg from my hip through to my knee and at its worst down to my foot and achiiles heal. It mostly sat between my right buttock and knee only straying beyond that point when I pushed my back too far due to the nerve damage and bulge it then all settled down for a while.

Their where further ruptures in 2005,2009 x2 and a final massive rupture in January 2012. It was at this point as their was no significant recovery compared to previously I sought further advice from my GP. I was referred for an MRI scan which showed a massive rupture and complete breakdown of the Disc at L5/S1 but further debri had entered the sciatic nerve chamber causing severe and acute sciatica. The nerve was now critically damaged. Their was also the early tell tale signs of arthritis

Again their was some settling down during the summer and my Consultant Surgeon suggested we wait and I agreed as it felt reasonably okay. I had after all got used to degrees of pain thresholds and the symptoms of scatica for 11 years by now and my atrtitude had always been to fight against it and avoid surgery

Unfortunately come the autumn and winter it all started to go wrong again my consultant was reluctant to operate and we waited again.In may of this year I agreed to one last Root Nerve Compression/Epidural which sadly appeared not to have worked although in June and July with the minor heatwave again it showed improvement and I was even able to play tennis once a week something I could not have done in the previous 12 months when I wss forced to give up consideration of youth football coaching due to the effects on my back from the pain and acute sciatica. In was in June that my Surgeon decided to operate in an attempt to alleviate the back pain and give me back as much sensation in my right leg which had been partially lost as a result of the sciatica and nerve damage.He also felt the particles from the L5 Disc in the sciatic nerve chamber where getting too close to the outer wall of the chamber and the remainsof the disc's outer scak where not helping in regards to the level of pain I was now experiencing.

On the 3rd August 2013 I had a Microdiscectomy which went well and the Surgeon described it as a complete success removing what was left of the L5 sack and removing the particles and debris from me Sciatic nerve chamber and completing a cleaning and flushing ot the entire chamber at the nerve root point.Yes the nerve had thinned and was kimked due the the numerous bulges and the arthritis had incerased slightly. Overall he was not worried and felt i would be fully recovered and pain free within about 8 weeks although some degree of sciatica would remain due to the nerve damage.

Post Op for two weeks I was fine was walking and some minor back strengthening exercises could be undertaken I felt great the Sciatica was reduced and the pain in my lower back and buttock gone.

By the third week all hell broke lose I woke up one morning and the sciatica was back but wosre than ever and in other parts of my right leg where it had not been before and now it was showing signs of being in my left leg where it had never been in all of the previous 12 years since this had started. My GP prescribed Gabapentin 300mg to counter act the spasms and pins and neediles which where now increasing at an alarming rate.These helped and I am still taking them currently.

I spoke to my consultants secretary who inturn spoke to my consultant who was surprised as this was not the way a recovery form this operation should be going however I still had 4 weeks before I was supposed to see him post op and he told me to see how it goes until then. The following week again I was presented with something else this time symptoms that where all too familar to me over the last decade. I woke up in morning and got slowly out of bed realising that the symptoms I was now experiencing where of a ruptured or pro-lapsed disc, but it could not be the L5 as that has all been removed and the L4 above and all my other discs where in good shape as per the last MRI at the end of May.The pain was back and worse than before, the sciatica increased although this was being masked by the Gabapentin and still is. I was also prsented with severe pains coming from my right hip which remain to this day.

I saw my Surgeon on the 11th September at my scheduled out patients appointment.. He reitterated that it had been a successful opp however when I had the opportunity to speak he seemed surprised at the symptoms I was presenting and how poorly my recovery had gone. He stated their was a "low probabilty of a further rupture especially with the one immediately above (L4). He examined me and agreed I was presenting symptoms of a further Pro-lapsed /Ruptured disc and the fact I had sciatica in my left leg wqs of great concern to him as this in fact unusual to have sciatica in both legs .He immediately called for a fresh MRI to determine what is actually going on and that where I am currently.

I have a acan scheduled for mid October and see him Mid November. Meanwhile I cannot work, and can do very little without aggravating the symptoms further. I can Walk and do lots of it although it is very painfull. To be fair their has always been some dgree of pain at times since 2001 but now the pain is intense and severley distracting. I try to do the back muscles strengtehning exercises but these are difficult. Sitting for any length of time is painfull as is standing. Driving is nigh on impossible past about 2 to 5 miles due to the pain in my lower back, buttock and occasionally shooting up to my right shoulder which is very unusual. I have tried to get the scan brought forward so I can then badger my Consultants secretary for an earlier appt with him, all to no avail.

I feel I am now in complete limbo and am very worried. Days before this opp I could run, walk miles, drive, and work etc and now I cannot even do any of that as I am wose than I have ever been since it all started in 2001. I take far mor medication that I have ever had to. Even in 2009 when I had two lapses I could get by on occasional muscle stimulants.

The operation as it stand now looks like a very poor decision but I felt it was worth the risk as despite a recovery I did wonder if like the Autumn of 2012 by this Autumn it may deteriorate again.

I am currently at my wits end the pain is worse than before and the sciatica is all over the place now. My GP is reluctant to do anything as I am under a Senior Consultant Surgeon and I cannot see him until the MRI scan is at least undertaken.

Its all very disheartening and i find it difficult to equate how I can enter hospital for an operation to alleviate these symptoms and come out even worse.

What makes it worse also is that people around you treat it all as a bit of a joke and don't seem to realise the extent that these symptoms have on your everyday living. People think I should have recovered by now and I am a malingerere/lazy. This could not be further from the truth as I have alwasy fought against this but now it seems fully in control. I was neraly 40 when this first presented itself I am now almost 52 and it has had an alarming effect my life at times.

Sorry for rambling on but i wanted to giive a clear picture ats what is happening and had gone before.





  • 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
  • sorry to hear your pain, this is the same operation, everyone thinks is ok for me, i disagree your story is all to familiar. i hope you get better, and did not reherniate.
  • Hi there
    I had a L5/S1 Discectomy on 17th April this year and I'm still in pain and waiting to be seen by the surgeon.
    I did return to work briefly last week in July(desk job) only mon, we'd and fri for 4 hrs but it horrendous and I was signed off again.
    My GP has now sent a letter to surgeon to see me as I had all the debris cleared out too but I can't walk without pain and I've got constant pain in my left leg, buttock down my leg and in my groin. I'm still on 8 x Tramdol 50 mg a day and Naproxen one daily. I also have some trouble assign urine and that is also frustrating.
    I never expected to still be this way all this way down the line but unfortunately I am.
    I hope to get appt soon and another MRI to see what problem is.
    Keep in touch we can compare notes lols
  • Also forgot to say yes no one seems to be supportive any longer as it's gone on for so long and I'm just 45 yrs and had problems for over two years before my op.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/04/2013 - 5:50 AM
    IF you are having difficulty urinating, you need to let both your primary and the surgeon know that as soon as possible. It could be that there is a compression on the nerves that innervate your bladder and can cause permanent damage.
    Are you having increased numbness or tingling, increased or new pain in areas that you didn't have it before? Does the toilet paper feel the same as it did?
  • SpineyKD23SSpineyKD23 IllinoisPosts: 89
    edited 10/04/2013 - 6:02 AM
    Hello, so sorry to hear about your problems. I just had my third micro d at the age of 22. That is large in part to me attempting to return to multiple activities that were not at all spine friendly- hard to admit. I am making big lifestyle changes this time around.
    I would urge you to see if you can get in with your doctor sooner. I know sometimes they like to wait to do a post op MRI, but considering your inability to function I would insist on getting your evaluation with your doctor moved to a sooner date. I know, sometimes they can't but it is always worth a try.
    It is impossible for me to predict your final outcome, but another surgery might be able to help the pain. I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes surgeries do fail or lead to reherniation, but other times that can be fixed with a second surgery, as in my case. Considering your history with conservative treatments it doesn't sound like surgery is out of the question if a second one was needed. I hope they can figure something out for your pain. I know how it feels when people assume your problem isn't that bad. They have no idea how mentally and physically exhausting it can be. Hang in there!
    25 years old: Herniated L4-L5, L5-S1 December 2008. L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2010. L5-S1 microdiscectomy March 2012. Redo L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2013. Redo microdiscectomy Oct 2015.
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    I had my surgery may 7, 2013 and it was L 3-4 microdiscectomy , mostly though I had a piece of disc lodged in my L 4 nerve root that had to be removed. My surgeon said the same thing " things went well you should have a complete recovery"
    5 months later I continue to have low back pain and some leg pain/ numbness. I had a repeat MRI that was normal after concern that I had reherniation but I am still left with this pain. Wondering when it will go away. My surgeon said " you have to think you will get better" . Boy it is hard to live with this. I also am 53 and had been very active until all this .
    Hoping you get some answers.
  • One more thing I forgot to add: I am very surprised they had you doing any back strengthening exercises that soon into your recovery. Do you feel like that could have started some of your new pain? No judgement on your recovery methods, but just thought I would mention it as a possibility. My surgeon only clears me for walking for at least a month post op. Then add things like swimming or the elliptical as my back tolerates it. Still no repetitive bending/twisting or lifting over 10 pounds until the 8 week mark.
    25 years old: Herniated L4-L5, L5-S1 December 2008. L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2010. L5-S1 microdiscectomy March 2012. Redo L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2013. Redo microdiscectomy Oct 2015.
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