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Diskectomy S1-L5

Hello! My name is Pam and I've had problems with left leg sciatica for the last three months, since the end of 11/13. I saw my family doctor who ordered PT and they were treating for Piriformis syndrome but it only made things worse. Had an MRI in January which revealed disk bulges at S1-L5 and L3-4. I didn't tolerate traction or massage so after that I started pool therapy. This was basically for maintenance as anything aggravated the pain and neuro symptoms such as numbness and pins and needles in my foot and leg. Tried steroids, muscle relaxants and Neurontin. None were effective. Went to a pain clinic and received a caudal epidural and injections into the nerve roots which resolved a lot of the pain but not the other symptoms. I lost my foot reflex and failed all the strength tests the doctors do with your leg/foot as well as the slump test. I was starting to get foot drop, my foot was getting so floppy. My pain doctor told me there was nothing more she could do to help me and suggested I don't wait too long for surgery so last Thursday, 3-6-14 I underwent diskectomy. It was outpatient and I actually went home within a few hours after it was done. My surgeon said he removed the disk from my nerve as well as some pieces in the area.

I had some leg pain that resumed following surgery; this was pain that had resolved after my epidural injections. I noticed it when I was still in recovery. Miraculously, all the pins and needles sensations were gone. My doctor had a surprised/concerned look on his face when I told him I was having that pain. Because of my complaints of pain I was given a steroid and Toradol in my IV before I left recovery.

On Monday, the pain in my leg seemed to be reappearing in a radicular-like pattern as before. I also developed numbness in the bottom of three smallest toes. My surgeon's office prescribed a 6 day steroid pack. So far after two days this hasn't helped. I have tried to follow the surgeon's instructions which basically consisted of: no bending, twisting or lifting/pushing/pulling more than 10 pounds. I have been spending my days walking, lying, sitting and standing. I have squatted using my legs but the instructions never told me not too so I didn't think this would cause problems.

Is this a matter of me needing to be more patient or should I be concerned? I've been reading here and it looks like the consensus is you need to wait. I just don't understand that I got more pain after surgery. The back incision was about 2" long and is healing well. I don't really have any lower back pain but there is some incisional discomfort that remains.

Thank you for any thoughts.
L5-S1 Discectomy 3/2014
L5-S1 Discectomy 5/2015


  • Hi Pam, I also had a L5S1 discectomy on 2/24/14. I had been suffering from pretty severe left sided sciatica since late Sept. 2013. I went to physical therapy and did traction but it didn't help very much. Finally had an MRI in early Dec and found I had a herniated disc. It took me about 6 weeks to finally get my appointment with a neurosurgeon and then the big ice storm hit the south on the day of my appointment so it was cancelled and rescheduled 10 days later. I finally see the surgeon and we schedule the discectomy for a week later. Well the night before the surgery I get a call saying there is an emergency and my surgery was cancelled, needless to say I was very upset. Anyway finally get it rescheduled for 11 days the original surgery date. Went into surgery at 8 am and woke up in quite a but if back pain which I had expected. A couple hours into recovery I started getting bad sciatic pain again, they gave me some muscle relaxers and that helped quite a bit. I went home that evening around 4. The first few days after surgery I still had a little sciatic pain but not too bad. I was just happy I could sit again with very little pain and I could sleep on my side which I hadn't been able to do in months. Well about a week in the sciatic pain started flaring up again which I have read can happen . I'm like you just doing my walking, I get some sciatic pain going into my foot when walking but it's tolerable, lying down part of the day and doing what little housework I'm allowed. My sciatic pain is controlled fairly well with Tylenol in the mornings and afternoon but by evening I still have to take a pain pill and muscle relaxer to be able to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. I go back for my post op appointment in 2 weeks and hopefully things have improved more by then. I am definetly not one of the people you see on the tv commercials that came out of surgery pain free but I hope it steadily gets better. Anyway just letting you know you are not alone in this journey, this site has helped me a lot.
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