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Sciatic Pain 8 days post Micro Decompression - Please Help!


Hi! I am hoping I can get some reassurance that going through the decompression surgery was not a total waste !

I have a micro decompression surgery at L3,L4,L5 for forminal stenosis and herniated last week (2/18) and I'm still having Sciatic pain.

I decided to have the surgery after 10 months of conservative treatment. I did it all. Chiro, PT, ESI (which caused more pain not helped!)

I am (was) a very fit 42 YO women. I have been a runner for years and all I want to do is run again or at the very least be rid of the sciatic pain!

I injured the L4/5 disc in Crossfit.

The DR's asst said it's too soon to think the pain is an issue but I'm stuck at home freaking out. I thought I'd be better right away. The incision pain is nothing and I only took one pain pill the first night.

Please, someone share a story that will go away! Has anyone had post surgery pain?


  • 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
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 02/26/2014 - 11:03 AM
    Hi there - so I had a more invasive procedure, but the basics are the same : I had a fusion to remove my impinging discs that were causing my sciatic pain and a decompression to put space back in between the vertebra. I was very uphappy when I woke up following the operation and I STILL had leg pain. WORSE, I now had RIGHT leg pain.

    I talked to the on-duty physicians while I was in the hospital, and while they said some people wake up and IMMEDIATELY feel relief, most of the rest of us don't get it that quick. He said it could take a few weeks for the nerves to stop flaring up. They were impinged for a long time - the cure isn't immediate. There is also a lot of swelling that can affect things.

    In about two weeks, I noticed the nerve pain was lessening. And now, at 9 weeks post op, it's gone.

    I hope you can have the same result. Keep your fingers crossed!
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • sciaticjennssciaticjenn Posts: 36
    edited 02/27/2014 - 8:55 AM
    Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I'm just feeling so down about this whole thing. I went through every conceivable treatment for 11 months trying to heal with no success.
    I too now have sciatic in both legs!!!!
    I hope your feeling well and getting on with your life!!!!!
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 02/27/2014 - 10:15 AM
    Hang in there - give your body a couple more weeks to adjust to the new situation. Nerves are notorius for being easily damaged, irritated etc... Every day, take it as a new day. Write a pain journal and add to it every morning and evening, before going to bed, rating your pain and including what you did - activities, exercises, or if you just laid flat. Then after a couple of days or weeks, you should have enough data to see a trend or maybe see some peaks and valleys and be able to associate what you did or didn't do that may have caused them.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 02/27/2014 - 3:20 PM
    8 days? I opine that your swelling and inflammation are peaking right now. I had a less invasive procedure than you and it took me a good couple of months to get half way decent.

    I know you are anxious. So was I when I had mine done. Please just give yourself (your body) permission to heal nice and easy.

    Also, I wish to convey to you that once a disc is compromised, it always will be compromised. It is the weakest link in your posterior chain now. If you subject it to the same stresses as before it will fail again. Moreover, it has less capacity to handle stresses.

    I hate to tell you, but running is asking for trouble now. Will you be able to do it? Sure. But be ready to pay the consequences. I used to run and I gave it up. Since then, I have taken up cycling. I love it now.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Hi the above members are correct. It takes time for the nerves to calm down. 8 days is very early, you just had surgery. I still had bruising and swelling at that time. Like Sarah said some people get instant relief but most have to wait for the nerve to calm down. I had many people who could not believe I did not get immediate relief, yeah they were a big help.
    I am now 9 weeks post op and just have some stiffness in the morning when I wake.
    Hang in there!
    Take Care
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
  • Yes, there will be swelling for a while so hang in there and give it time. I would like the reiterate that giving it time IS THE HARDEST PART AND IT SUCKS! LOL :)
    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • sciaticjennssciaticjenn Posts: 36
    edited 02/28/2014 - 10:31 AM
    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply. I'm praying that the sciatic will calm down. I just hate the idea that I had the surgery for nothing or heaven forbid to be worse off! The waiting, as I'm sure all of your are keenly aware, just makes things worse. I'm looking forward to my follow up apt Monday as I have a list of questions. My husband is coming along too because he won't let them rush me in and out and I don't want to be upset and forget to ask the questions I need answers to!
    @ Paul-did you have sciatic following surgery? And your right about the running. I'm not looking to distance run again and at the beginning of the year I purchased a great road bike so I'm hoping to get into that more soon!
    @Doreen2 -did you also have sciatic pain after surgery?
    @ Sarah - thanks for the idea. I'll do that! I hope your healed from your fusion.
    @Annie-m your are so right. I know it's a sin to rush time but the waiting just stinks. I fill my day with worry :( I'm terrified I'll be I'm in the 15-20% that don't have good outcome.

    It's been a rough go of it for me the last two years. I lost both my parents and then this injury happened. I was just hoping I would catch a break with the surgery.

    Again, thank you all for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it! I hope to repay the kindness to others in need when I'm healed :)
  • Hello! First I wanted to thank those that took the time to reply and offer kind encouragement. It is truly appreciated.

    I had my post-op apt with my dr today and I was armed with my list of questions and my husband to be sure I left nothing unanswered as this has caused me a lot of anxiety!

    The DR thought I was doing great. He said most patients are still on pain meds when they come in and I have only taken one the first night. Nothing since. My incision looks great aside from swelling and bruising.

    He took a good 45 minutes with me as I think he realized I was really upset and stressed about the pain. He assured me that it is completely normal since my nerves were compressed for close to a year to still have pain. He reiterated what you kind souls have said which is the fact that it takes time to heal.

    He felt I was pushing the walking too much and perhaps was going too far on each walk.

    He also stressed my incision will need six weeks to heal so no BLT!!!!

    He thought I needed to be kinder to myself and give my body a chance to heal. He said its 1/3 his job, 1/3 my body and 1/3 patience.

    He said my nerves were completely squished when he did the surgery so he was confident it was indeed the source of the problem. The disc herniation was secondary to the stenosis in the foramen.

    He also said he wished I had called when I was so nervous. He said he'd rather spend time reassuring a patient then think they were so scared. That was refreshing!

    I'll continue to update and again, thanks to all who replied!
  • Hey there! So glad you talked to your doctor. Yes immediately after the surgery I was in quite a bit of pain.
    I would say that it took several weeks for it all to calm down. Now it has been 10 weeks and the only pain I have now is
    when I first wake, I am stiff. I remembered that from surgery I had 15 years ago so I am just trying to go with the flow.

    It will get better. You are very early in your recovery. I completely understand your feelings. I felt the same way. I was told to walk as much as I could after 3 weeks. So I have been trying to do that, it helps to get blood to the back for healing or so my doctor tells me.

    Like you, I felt much better after my first post op appointment. I was told that I was walking really well, despite the fact that I had foot drop and a paralyzed leg before surgery. My incision looked perfect. I got a lot of reassurance during that appointment which really lifted my spirits. I was also told to think of the nerve pain as a healing pain vs a "bad" pain.

    Just wanted to check in with you, hope you are doing better
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
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