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Microdisectomy L5/S1 Post Surgery

Hi Guys,

I am new to this site, and I live in Australia. Last year in June 2013 I started off with leg pain and just thought this would be just a cramp or muscle or something on those lines, then it got serious and I started getting the worst pain of my life when it became nerve related. I would get lightning bolt shooting pains down my leg (worst pain of my life). I could not be touched otherwise I would get that lightning bolt pain, physios, osteo's tried to touch but I couldn't let them.

After many months of trying different things, I saw a surgeon who straight away said surgery is ur best option if the drugs don't work and it doesn't get better. Obviously I tried the drugs and he also recommended an epidural which I tried and nothing worked at all.

So Feb 4th, 2014 I had the operation done, and it has gradually gotten better n better, I can now walk properly, my posture is sooo much better and I don't get any sharp shooting pains no more. Surgery was a success! I am now 4 months post surgery, I still cant jog or run yet, and my leg I cannot bend still properly without pain underneath my leg. I have to take a panadol or nurofen every few days to ease the pain but I don't want to take any more drugs.

Anybody else in a similar situation? It has been 4 months and I don't want to be like this forever, please tell me it gets better. I want to be able to run and go to the gym again.


  • Anybody else out there?
  • Jo_vdhJJo_vdh Posts: 27
    edited 05/28/2014 - 3:41 PM
    I'm wishing you good luck!

    I too am based in Australia and suffering with similar issues... I was unable to run for approx 6 months after my microdiscectomy, but was then back to largely normal activity.

    Unfortunately I've re-herniated and am waiting on finding out what surgery is going to happen.

    All the best with your recovery - stay positive. I know it's easier said than done, but it does really help
    July 2009 - L1, L3, L5 disc hernation
    Jan 2011 - L5/S1 Microdiscectomy
    Dec 2012 - return of neural symptoms
    June 2014 - fusion recommended - awaiting insurance approval
  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 05/28/2014 - 4:58 PM
    Sorry no one has responded. It's a sparsely populated place here but some of us are still around.

    May I ask what caused the initial injury?

    From what you report, the nerve was compressed for the better part of 7 or 8 months. That's borderline the limit for how long a nerve can be compressed without permanent damage. However, every case is different. For example, my nerve was compressed for about 8, almost 9 months and I recovered all feeling completely with no problems.

    Further, nerves can recover sensation at about 1 or 2 millimeters per month. Did the surgeon diagnose the size of your herniation? I think I had a 14mm and a 16mm.

    About running:
    Running is bad for herniated discs. VERY bad. The pounding WILL cause the disc to reherniate. I know it is difficult to read, but I encourage you to switch your thinking process over to bike riding. I did and it's great. (I try to ride when and where there is reduced vehicle traffic)

    Things can get better for you; it takes time, patience, and care. You have to take care of that disc from now on. Doing so will GREATLY reduce your chances of problems.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Jo - I am sorry to hear about re herniating, that can be very painful for the mind. I do hope it goes well for you. Keep me posted on how you go though

    Paul - My surgeon has told me this is pure bad luck and there was nothing that had caused this. And I don't ever remember in doing anything to cause it also.

    It was compressed for about 7-8 months because that was the time I was trying absolutely everything to avoid surgery and lots of people told me to avoid surgery. But in the end surgery was 100% my best option, I am feeling so much better, the only concern I have now is my leg hurting, not as bad as before surgery, but still enough to cause a bit of grief and to stop me from jogging or doing any sport.

    They do say it takes a while for the nerve to repair, I do hope my nerve is not permanent damage. But it has gotten better each month I would say.

    If I remember correctly, the surgeon did say it was out by 16mm. I just want to be able to at least jog and play some sport again. I maybe wont run anymore but I guess bike riding will have to do.

    And also Paul, I do have feeling in my leg, its more just the pain when I bend the leg.
  • I might bump this thread up
  • after spine surgery to make sure that you discuss that with your surgeon.. A previous poster is correct, that running can cause the disc to herniate again, especially with discectomies.
    I am not saying that you can't definately but in most cases, it weakens the disc, at least until it scar over and I would definately talk to your surgeon before taking up running of any sort again.....
  • Hi Sandi,

    Thanks for your comments, I am seeing my surgeon again next week. I will discuss with him about the whole running thing, but are you recommending that I never run again? I am a little saddened if that would be the case. I used to play indoor soccer/football before my injury and would be quite devastated if I cant do that again.

    I do want to play golf but I am also afraid of twisting my body, I know that its only in the first 6 weeks they advise not to bend or twist or lift but I still feel I am a little scared to do it now. What are your thoughts on golf?

    An update on how I am feeling:

    I only feel my pain while I am sitting down and then trying to bend my leg up, other than that I feel fine. Wish the leg pain would go, feels like that is holding me back so much.
  • Spine surgery, even a microdiscectomy , needs time to recover......it is important , vitally important that you follow all of the restrictions and post op instructions to the letter if you want the best chances at a successful surgery.
    The disc is vulnerable at this point, until the healing is complete, and doing anything that your surgeon has not cleared you for, puts that disc at risk of reherniating.....so before you start golfing or running or doing anything he hasn't cleared you to do, you need to discuss it with him.
    Many patients, once their recovery is complete, are able to resume many things they did prior to the surgery, but others are not, so it really depends on what your surgeon tells you, and the types of activities you are interested in.

  • Yes, he did advise me to start of small with golf and only do half swings for now, then work your way up from there. He did say I will be able to resume all activities once I am healed.

    I don't want to do anything that is going to put pressure on my disc's at this stage

    Prior to surgery I just didn't think the recovery was this long, probably hence why I think it feels like a long time. Today has been 4 months exactly since the surgery.

    I wish this leg pain would go away, its only slight pain and can only be felt when leg is bent upwards whilst sitting down.

    I will see my surgeon next week - and physio tomorrow for the 2nd time. I have read everywhere that walking is the best thing for you to do.
  • Hey guys,

    If anyone else is in my position can you post up your stories ?
  • After my discectomy/laminectomy I was told by my surgeon that I could resume normal activities after I recovered.

    The nurse in the recovery room after surgery told me NOT to listen to them and to stay away from high impact sports and not to lift heavy weights - like holding a toddler! She said that she sees TONS of people coming right back within the year for repeats of the surgery.

    I was one of those repeats...

    I ended up needing a spinal fusion some years later and my neuro-surgeon (different doc) told me to avoid all high impact exercise. After having a spinal fusion I didn't need much convincing!

    Good luck! The goal is long term spinal health.
  • rb30et87rrb30et87 Posts: 63
    edited 06/09/2014 - 12:14 PM
    Is Bike Riding actually meant to help the leg pain?
  • rb30et87rrb30et87 Posts: 63
    edited 06/09/2014 - 12:31 PM
    Thanks for your comments L5S1, I am sorry to hear that you were one of them repeats. I am just struggling to be patient, as its now been a whole year since this has started. Have had leg pain for 1 whole year now and feels like its never going to go away.

    Its just the pain of the nerve that is still bothering me. I am going to start bike riding now, see my surgeon tomorrow so I will ask him if that is OK, do you think I should ask him for a rescan of my back just incase?

    The pain I am in now is not even close to what I had before surgery. Its just minor ANNOYING leg pain and cant bend it fully, just dam hurts when I get to a point of bending.( And as I said not as bad as before surgery )

    What I want to hear is stories of how long people recovered as well?

    Also L5S1 - Are you recommending not to ever lift any weights at all ?
  • talk to your surgeon about using one of the neuropathic pain medications. You may not need it for long, but since the nerve pain is still bothering you, it would be worthwhile trying it for some time to see if it helps. My nerve pain was bad for years, and in the last year, I finally was able to stop taking the neuropathic pain meds and the nerve pain is significantly lessened.
  • It can take a while for nerve pain to heal. I think it's 1/4 of an in a month - or something like that.

    If you still have pain I would definitely ask your doc what your options are.
    It's possible that one year post surgery would just justify for having a new scan.
    Or maybe you just need physical therapy.

    I would ask your doctor about lifting weights.
    I personally don't lift weights above 3-5 lbs per hand!
  • Sandi - Yes I see him in a few hours actually. I will ask him if there is anything he can give me. However I do take over the counter panama or nurofen which works wonders, its a very light drug but works so well for pain, and gives me about a days relief, BUT the thing is I don't like taking these drugs because I don't want to get my body used to them and just want to recover and I am worried If I continue to take them I will never get better. But maybe I should just continue to take them if it eases the nerve pain, I just hope my pain doesn't continue.

    L5S1 - My bulge was apparently out 16mm, so according to what your saying, I am on track then because it has significantly improved over the 4 months so far.

    I am not to worried about lifting right now, I am happy to wait that out, just as long as in time I will be back to normal really. It has improved I am just very impatient I guess. Its been a whole year without any exercise and constant pain in my leg.
  • Hello, glad to hear your surgery went well for the most part. I was told today that surgery is recommended for my herniated disc. I hurt it lifting weights. Most of the day I am in extreme pain - nerve pain. Completely has ruined my life. I'm going for physical therapy first before surgery but not even sure I'll be able to do it. I wake up in severe pain and swelling of my right butt/hip area. I ice it and wait and wait for the nerve pain to sudside. They are recommending a micro disectomy. I honestly was thinking recovery time would be next to nothing and nerve pain relieved. I worry about the disc being much more fragile if did opt for this surgery and then hurting it again or needing a fusion later. how much disc can they take away before it just is nothing and no longer works?
  • At this stage I would still recommend surgery, I am about 95% better than I was. The pain I was in before surgery is unexplainable. (only way to describe is I would be electrocuted every time I got a twitch in my leg) The recover is taking ages though, my only issue now is my leg pain is sore (not as bad). I am hoping the pain goes soon!!

    I am not sure how to answer your question about how much disc they can take. It is a good question though
  • Tina16TTina16 Posts: 37
    edited 06/10/2014 - 3:20 PM
    I had a L5S1 MD 2 weeks ago. My symptoms started in November with me noticing numbness in my right heal when standing a certain way. Went for X-rays, showed some arthritis, but I am 35 and apperantly that is a common finding. Pain moved into my butt so my doc thought piriformis syndrome and I started PT for that. She did put forth a referral for an MRI just in case. Had the MRI in February and they found DDD (again.....very common in people), small bulges in L3L4 and L4L5. But it also showed a large extrusion in L5S1. Saw my doc in March for the results and she referred me to a neurosurgeon, who could see me for an initial consult in May.

    From March to that appointment I kept up with PT, chiro and tried a small pharmacy of medications (Percocet, gabapentin, indomethacin, Valium, flexeril) to combat my increase in pain levels.

    Saw the NS early May send he said that I had been a model patient, doing everything I could that was non invasive, but now I had to consider surgery. I said absolutely and was scheduled for July 2.

    Between that appointment and May 27 my pain escalated severely. I collapsed at work in front of my students. I had to be picked up at the side of the highway because I could not drive. Ended up in the ER twice because I couldn't take it anymore. I just wanted to die or have my leg amputated. I ended up talking sick leave from work and was bedridden for two weeks.....I couldn't stand and my husband had to carry me to the bathroom. I called my surgeon to move the day of my surgery up and he did to May 27. And that was a good thing because on the 26th I started losing the ability to void my bladder.

    I woke up from surgery sore, but the pain was gone! I was walking slowly but without pain. Even now I have only some muscle soreness from the walking I am doing, as I am using muscles I have not used in months. I still have some numbness in my foot but have been told it may take a long time for those nerves to heal, if they will. I did get the feeling back in my 4th and 5th toes last week, so I am hopeful. I am up walking 45min-1hour a couple times a day (before the really bad pain I walked 5km every morning). I am off all medication except some Advil.

    Mentally I am a mess.....I live in constant fear of hurting myself and bringing that pain back onto me again. I gave given birth to two children without drugs and would rather be in labour than to feel sciatic pain again. I constantly relive those 2weeks I spent in bed highly medicated and completely out if it and then have panic attacks because I am terrified of ending back there again (especially with two other discs that are bulging, although I have heard that PT can help with that). Every twinge or new soreness causes me to break down. I am calling for a referral to a therapist because I think I need that help.

    Sorry for the novel. Kudos if you made it to the end!
  • WOW - That is a very sad story, I was in a very similar situation, the pain was unbearable, I had a similar incident at the shop where I lost balance as I was walking and then all hell broke loose and I had the worst pain of my life, massive lightning bolts of pain striking up my leg for about 2 minutes. I could not do anything but just suffer the pain. Never again do I want to go through that again.

    I do worry about everything I do also, how long has it been since your surgery Tina? Mentally I am not the best but trying to remain positive about being 100% again, that's why I want to hear everyone's success stories to make me feel better.

    I am just trying to get it in my head that I will get better and this just takes time..
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/11/2014 - 6:14 AM
    Those of us who have had other types of surgery, tend to think that spine surgery can't be that much different, but it is.....and the recovery process for most other surgeries is much quicker, once the incision heals, generally, the movement toward quickly resuming our lives is much faster.
    With spine surgery, it is much slower.....no matter what type of surgery, done in the spine, there are muscles that are cut, moved or sewn back together.....think of the spine as your core.....everything about your body is transmitted through your spine. Walking, thinking, sensation, movement, all is conducted through the spinal nerves. The nerves send impulses all through the body and controls the body's functional and sensational ability.
    Things will improve, slowly, and you will get back on your feet, and resume living your lives, but while your body recuperates, you have to have a little patience with it....
  • rb30et87rrb30et87 Posts: 63
    edited 06/11/2014 - 12:25 PM
    Thanks Sandi, its positive things like that which I do need to hear to keep my mind at ease. I spoke with the surgeon yesterday and he has advised me that most of the pain is my hamstring. He says most muscles have not been used for a long period of time and a very tight. He has given me a stretch to do which I thought will be helpful to others. Its lying down flat on your back and put ur leg up straight on a wall and holding it there for 5 minutes with each leg, he said do this 2 times a day and you will see an improvement over the next few months.
  • Good call Sandi, reading stuff like that definitely helps. I'm 24 hours post op for L5/S1 disectomy and feeling pretty sorry for myself! Walking as slow as a turtle with pretty epic pain.

    Hope you are all good rb30et. Sounds like things should hopefully be improving for you soon!
  • Yes he is very positive and it is good to read things like that.. Good luck with the recovery dilusional, it will get better and it does take time. I am fighting through my battle 4 and a half months on. Just this nerve pain and I am now working on my hamstring every day to get it better.
  • rb30et87rrb30et87 Posts: 63
    edited 06/12/2014 - 7:44 PM
    Also - I forgot to ask my surgeon about playing golf, after 6 weeks he did tell me that I can ease myself back into it now its been 4 and a half months, what do we all think about playing golf? the whole swinging action?

    And what about getting soft tissue massages? few questions I actually forgot to ask my surgeon
  • Hi all :)

    I sympathize with you all. I suffered back pain for 10 years, chronic sciatica for 5 and was not taken seriously till my back went into spasm on a day off at home one day. I was unable to weight bare and even sitting was excruciating! So my husband took me to A&E and i wasn't allowed to leave till the diazapam and steriod injection kicked in. Otherwise i was on alot of meds so they couldn't do much else. Once i was walking i was discharged with instructions to see my GP. I called her that day and was scheduled for a return call the next day. My GP's response was painkillers and exercise! Hmm. . . my Mum is a nurse and was by this point at the end of her tether in regards to how little was being done for my condition (Mother of three by this time and full time senior carer) so called a private chiropractor. Best thing i ever did! Although my first visit she could hardly pursue all therapies due to the level of pain and tension stress my back and legs were under. She literally diagnosed my problem that first session. I was seen twice weekly and noticed a considerable difference after treatment but it wouldn't last so my chiropractor wrote to my (new and more attentive) GP. It did the ticket and i was referred for MRI in the following 6 weeks and seen by the orthopedic physiotherapist who confirmed the diagnosis.

    I had my MRI and the wait for results was stressful and long, and i called the O.P who said no results were in and all would be fine. I would be seen by the Orthopedic consultant surgeon soon. My results came in not long after this call and it turned out my prolapsed disc was so severe that i'd be seen by the Neurosurgical consultant that week! I saw him and saw my scan. He said can you come back for surgery tomorrow? I obviously said no, after all as a mother i have three children, dogs and a husband to consider, so a date was set that suited better.

    I had my surgery on the 17th of November 2010. At first i noticed a huge difference and no pain, but within the next six months ( and returned to work) I noticed the pain returning and nerve pain in my legs again and loss of sensation in my legs. When i had my surgery the consultant explained the significant mess my lower spine was in and the prolapsed discs and surrounding nerves were a tangled mess and the nerves had to be peeled away but they'd left 1/4 of unprolapsed disc behind. Fair enough, but these 6 months later i of course am thinking this has also prolapsed. I had another MRI and this was confirmed. I am not going for further surgery due to the extensive scarring on my nerves. To this day I still get pain or loss of sensation in my legs. (like a dead-leg, or recovering from pins n needles sensation, or just numbness)

    The pain was significant again for months and i was referred by my GP to the Hospital's pain clinic physio. She was great and gentle and attentive and with the help of an easyish (based on the loss of muscle strength and nerve pain) exercise regime to strengthen the core muscles to compensate for the damaged and weaker ones in my back.

    These were helping but the greatest kick was when I was refused DLA (Disability Living Allowance). I can't work now due to the damage and doubt anyone would want the liability of someone with back trauma and loss of sensation in their legs! So that got me very depressed. I couldn't walk my dogs as often or as far as i used to and i had more bad days than good! But although i was making progress, I had no idea how depressed i still was till i was refused DLA! I was determined to get on with it and deal with my problem and not let it get me down. Within a few weeks i was working voluntarily for two charities, signed out from the care of my pain clinic physio and pushing myself to walk further and more. I really think the depression exacerbated my pain. I have had alot more good days but i still have the odd day where i have to relax at home because I've done too much. But i am enjoying things more. The other factor that got me out my depression was a Nick Vujicic video. He is an amazing man born without limbs and yet he's sky-dived, surfed, scuba dived etc. I thought to myself how do i have the right to feel sorry for myself when this man has more reason and doesn't feel sorry for himself!

    Ironically i am typing this comment on a day which for me has been a 'bad' one. My legs are weird ( what i call it when i have loss of sensation, or 'funky') but i accidentally found this after Googling 'can i run or jog with L5/S1 damage?'. . . and i found this. I am getting alot of pressure from professionals, fellow sufferers and family to not even dare! They were nervous enough when i got on a horse! And a shire one at that! But i found the answer so I can still enjoy something I love. . . WESTERN SADDLE! Like sitting in an arm chair :D

    The consultant at the time said to me my back was in a state that was degenerative. . . but then a different professional said that all backs/spines are degenerating so I'm no different from anyone else. That's all fair and well but where does that leave all of us? Do ours do this faster? Or at greater risk? I wouldn't wish the pain that comes with this on anyone! And for a long long time I couldn't remember what it was like to not be in pain! So how far do i push myself? It's alway gonna be at my own risk. The frustrating thing is, perhaps if my GP had taken me seriously ten, 8 or even 5 years before, there possibly wouldn't have been so much damage but you have to accept the hand that's dealt.

    Everybody is different and I have met others who were fine after surgery with no recourse, and others who are on their 3rd, 4th and even 5th surgeries! I am just one of the unfortunate ones lol. But since i am doing much better these days i often wonder if i could run or jog again. What is your personal opinion? Back when my pain was really bad running or even a brisk walk would but my back in spasm and me out of order for days. . . . . but i never thought I'd get on a horse again either.

    I hope you all receive the proper care and treatment, and hope you live a life pain free with no further re-occurrence. Take care :)
  • F_Mess81FF_Mess81 Posts: 4
    edited 06/16/2014 - 6:05 AM
    Here's the video of this wonderful man who helped me out my depression :)


    Enjoy! :)

    Post edited by Sandi Please read the forum rules found at the link below.

    9.03 No posting material that infringes on the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others or on the privacy or publicity rights of others.
    The moderator team reserves the right to edit any post


  • It has only been 2.5 weeks since my surgery. I am still early in my journey :(
  • dswestddswest Posts: 9
    edited 06/13/2014 - 11:35 PM
    Hi all...... My doctor has referred me to a back surgeon for an opinion on my back. He has also stated to him that it is unlikely that I will ever return to my normal duties. Which means that I can no longer work as a motor mechanic. So as I re-injured my back at work this means I am going to lose my job. ....... Sorry got off track........ I have had back issues for many years and my profession hasn't helped that fact. This is the first time I have been offered the possibility of surgery. I have read many stories about back surgery and scar tissue being an issue. But I am caught between a rock and a hard place right now. ......... Has anybody got any good stories to tell me. Put my mind at rest so to speak. Feeling a little lost.......
  • rb30et87rrb30et87 Posts: 63
    edited 06/15/2014 - 6:56 PM
    Tina16 said:
    It has only been 2.5 weeks since my surgery. I am still early in my journey :(
    Tina can you keep us all updated on your progress? its good to hear. I am doing OK now, leg pain after doing a bike ride has helped a little and it was only my first time on a bike since surgery. I think if I do this a lot more it will definitely help me out
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