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I'm afraid I may have a re-herniation only a few months post surgery

I was struggling with back pain since 2009 and had been diagnosed this year with a bulging L4/5 disc. In September I developed sciatica that was literally crippling and had no choice but to get surgery. My right foot even started going numb when the sciatic hit(came on pretty rapidly).

After the microdisectomy surgery on Sept 26, the sciatica was gone and so was pretty much all the lower back pain other than the soreness of the incision area. The foot numbness persisted (as it still does now in December). I would take lots of walks as my doctor suggested and I didn't have any discomfort from walking and resumed normal daily activity. At some point in mid November however, I begin noticing that my lower back would start to ache after walking for a while. Then it would seem to happen sooner and sooner. To make things worse, I had to move out of state December 3rd and spent a lot of time packing and carrying and lifting items which screwed things up even more but I had no choice. I was supposed to start physical therapy in mid November for a month but because of my move I wasn't able to.

I now have trouble bending at the waist, the foot numbness is still here and I can't be on my feet for more than 20-30 minutes before my lower back starts aching like hell and I have to sit down. Luckily the sciatica has not come back, but who knows.

Once my insurance gets switched over to my new state I'll contact a new doctor. I'm afraid that I'll have to get a spinal fusion. If it turns out I have re-herniated, what is the chance that a 2nd disectomy will be successful? What's the likelihood that physical therapy can address this? I'm waiting for insurance paperwork to go through so I can go to a doctor but all these questions are running through my mind and really worried.


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 12/15/2013 - 5:14 PM
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    Unfortunately, we tend to see a lot of reherniations here, mostly due to the patients not sticking to the restrictions they were given post op, or taking on more than their bodies are ready for, instead of waiting to be released back to your normal activities by your surgeon.
    There is no way for anyone here to answer your questions about the likelihood of reherniation, it is certainly possible, given the packing, bending, lifting, carrying you did to move, not attending physical therapy, and resuming normal activity before you were cleared to do so by the surgeon.
    THE worst thing that any patient who has had back surgery can do, is to resume your pre surgery activities UNLESS and UNTIL you are told that you can by the surgeon.......the idea behind having the surgery is to fix a weakness in a disc, or remove part of a disc, therefore, it needs to heal, and to scar, so that it doesn't re-occur, and the post op discharge instructions and restrictions are there for a reason, to prevent the patient from reinjuring and undoing all of the good that the surgery is meant to accomplish.
    As far as the nerve issues, they don't just resolve overnight, if there is compression of the spinal nerves, then once the nerve is released from what ever is compressing, it, it takes some time for the nerve to completely recover if it is going to, and this is not days or weeks but can take several months, up to two years, depending on the extent of the damage.
    I am afraid that you need to make an appointment with another surgeon for follow up or return back to your previous surgeon and see what he tells you.
  • modajimmodaji Posts: 2
    edited 12/15/2013 - 5:40 PM
    sandi said:

    the idea behind having the surgery is to fix a weakness in a disc, or remove part of a disc, therefore, it needs to heal, and to scar, so that it doesn't re-occur
    Thanks for your response, Sandi. I've heard conflicting information about this above. I've read that the disc doesn't get a blood supply thus it never actually scars and heals like other parts of your body. But you are saying that it does. My concern with my disc all along is that I will have a weak point in my spine for life because the outer portion of the disc that holds the inner jelly-like material will never truly return to its original integrity.
  • to the disc itself, so you were told correctly, but the tissue surrounding the area does scar and although no area that has been injured will ever return to it's pre injury state, healing does occur in the area surrounding the discs, and that's what I was referring to scarring and healing occurring.
    Modifying the way you do things, and not doing things to worsen your weakened areas are the best that we can hope for.
    I hope that you didn't reherniate, and that the pain lessens over time, but again you really should consult with your surgeon or another one in your new home area for advice.
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