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Has my disk reherniated after a microdisectomy?

Hi I had a microdisectomy just over 2.5 weeks ago, I was doing very well and doing just as the surgeon said,
walk and gradually increase the distance as the pain allows. Now as pain goes I was able to walk no problem from day 1 (without pain meds) and had been able to walk for about 2 miles a day with no problems (gradually increased to this distance). Then the other day the pain in my leg pain got quite a lot worse, it is as if my hamstring has been stained behind my knee, and also a strain in my right groin area which comes and goes.

My degree of flexibility was never good in my right leg post surgery but it seems to have decreased further in the past couple of days. I was wondering is it likely that my disk has reherniated? or is it that the nerve is just still showing residual damage? or even a pulled hamstring?
Also did I over do it by walking too much? but I was told that pain was to be my guide.
My surgeon will not get back to me and tell me what to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • Well, it is definitely possible that you reherniated, but before you panic, I would just rest for a few days and see if the pain goes away. If it does, then it was likely just overdoing activity. If not, then I'd call the surgeon back and explain and they will likely prescribe steroids in case there is inflammation/swelling causing the pain. If that doesn't work, then the chances of it being a reherniation gets a bit higher. That is what happened in my case, 5 weeks after the first microdiscectomy. I went from zero pain to pain overnight and tried rest, steroids and stretching, but ultimately I had to do another MRI which showed another (even larger, but thankfully not as painful) herniation of the same disc (L5/S1). I had my second microdiscectomy 6 days ago. So it definitely can happen, but it is also just as likely to be the nerves regenerating or doing too much.

    I know, not the definitive answer you're looking for, because I've asked the same question. Hopefully your pain will resolve and you'll be able to continue your recovery.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 08/20/2014 - 8:56 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • ayesh_3aayesh_3 Posts: 9
    edited 08/22/2014 - 1:09 AM
    Hi Phil,

    I had a ls/s1 microdiscectomy two weeks ago and have been told by neurosurgeon NOT to walk for four weeks.
    He is very focussed on to 10-15% chance of re-herniation so he withdrew my initial recovery programme (walking every day to build up to around 30 mins without pain or assistance) and i'm lying flat on my back (no upright, no angled neck on pillows...) with 5-10 mins a day for walking to loo or washing.

    I'm so scared of being back in the same boat after all this trouble, so doing as told. I do feel stronger every day, less as if i'm about to "crack and break." Maybe a good day of flat rest can help you too?

    I've also noticed I have more movement and less phantom pains and tingling as the days go by (in my left leg which was where the weakness was the worst).

    Good luck to you!
  • I was instructed to begin walking immediately after surgery. However, there should be a limit given how recent your surgery was. It's possible that it's just normal post op irritation or nerve regeneration. Nerves can take several months to heal. It's important to have clear post op instructions from your surgeon and be sure to follow them closely. Laying around can actually cause more problems but you don't want to overdo it either. It seems a bit too soon to assume re herniation, but it's always possible. In my case, my MRI wasn't repeated until 4 months Post op, even though my symptoms were worse than prior to surgery. As stated above, I was also put on 2 rounds of steroids after surgery because inflammation could be a factor. Unfortunately my disc re herniated, but it's not uncommon to have flares after surgery. I wouldn't get too concerned unless symptoms worsen or last for at least a few months. It's always good to keep your surgeon informed of any changes. You can ask about the risk of re herniation. You can also ask about starting Physical Therapy. If the nerve pain is really bothersome, then you may benefit from a medication specifically for nerve pain. These are all things to consider to help get you through the healing process.

    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • Thanks for the advice everyone I will take it on board, its good to hear from people that have been in similar situations and I wish everyone a speedy recovery,.
    I guess its just difficult to know if it is or not without an MRI. I probably over did the walking, but I was in no pain and going by instructions. Every surgeon seems to advise different recovery methods, from early mobilisation to zero movement. I have been lying down for the past 3 days or so, on anti inflammatory and icing I have also found that strapping the affected area behind my knee helped a great deal. Things seem to be gradually calming but it is hard to know when only getting up for a few minutes after lying down all day.

    If it is still ongoing after 5 or 6 days steroids might be a good decision to bring down inflammation.

    From reading people that have re-herniated tend to have a worse pain than before, due to the scar tissue and herniation.
    But that is probably just me just having an optimistic view on things. Just still hoping I strained my lower hamstring as it would be weaker post surgery (never thought I would be saying that).
  • Phil

    I am six weeks post-op from a Microdiscectomy and had the same thing happen to me. I came out of the surgery with no pain and was doing a lot of walking and then gradually the leg pain seemed to reappear which seemed to plateau around the third or fourth week after my surgery. Right now I have some mild to moderate leg pain when standing up or walking which kind of feels like an aching gnawing feeling near the knee. I can't imagine that I reherniated all though I know it is a possibility. Most likely it is some residual nerve damage since I have had my symptoms for over a year before I finally decided on surgery. In any event, I am thinking I will have to wait at least three months for my symptoms to resolve, at least partially, before having another MRI. I am still way better than I was before surgery, but nonetheless, I am a bit disappointed. Wishing you and others a speedy recovery.
    microdiscectomy 7-2014
  • I am three years post op, and only now I can say I am 100%, you must remember that your neves have been squashed for a period of time, so you will feel phantom pain, I did for 1 year and a half. Pt recovery is the most important. These days I still do Pilates, swimming and follow the sarah keys Mackenzie method and it am all good.
    I must say the first 6 months post op were scary for me I had 3 additional MRI's to try and find the source of my pain, in the end It was just phantom pain or scare tissue. But it is gone now, You must remember time heal's everything. Don't google worst case situations. Just keep up with the rehab you have a back to manage
  • royalrooterrroyalrooter Posts: 15
    edited 08/22/2014 - 4:21 PM
    Phil, had a micro on l5 s1 7/31/14. So far so good. I was instructed not to bend twist or life anything over 5 lbs for 2 weeks but to walk as much as possible. I am doing 3 miles a day at this point with no pain so far other than an occasional twinge. After my 2 week checkup I was referred to PT for core strength and stretching, especially the hammy. I didn't read that in your post regarding PT so maybe that would be the place to go first. Everything I've read says to be active and walk as much as possible as soon as you can after surgery so I don't think you overdid it.
  • Just said i would post this for reassurance to everyone. The symptoms that i was having were NOT a re herniation. I was just slightly overdoing it at the time. Patients is KEY and listen to your body.
    Now approximately 9 months and I'm hitting the gym hard with a lot of core work and Pilates started this after 16 weeks post op, gradually increasing load. It still taking time but I am gradually starting to run and jog again and slowly introducing myself to sports again. I hope everyone the best in their recovery, it does take time but worth it in the end! Stay strong :)
  • I'm glad you updated us! I'm 14 days post-op after an L5-S1 microdiscectomy and have been fairly active thus far... No bending, lifting, or twisting, of course, but lots of walking and generally just living my life. I recently took an 8-hour car ride to New Hampshire (on post-op day 12) and have noticed that I still have the nagging nerve pain in my right buttock. I imagine everyone gets paranoid that they're going to reherniate, and I'm no different! ;) But so glad to hear that all turned out well for you. Makes me feel better.
  • amwise23aamwise23 ArkansasPosts: 2
    Hi everyone, I am 3 weeks post op from l5/s1 disectomy. My ns recommended I walk a lot and avoid sitting for more than an hour. I was walking uphill tonight and noticed my right buttock hurting (left side was the herniated side) I'm so decades and paranoid now thinking I might have re herniated. I am a first year med student so it's very difficult for me to rest my back, but I would have to drop if I reherniated. Most of my original symptoms on the left side were numbness and weakness in my calf. I had pain the first day, which is why I'm terrified I reherniated. Reading everyone's comments though makes me hopeful! 
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