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L-5/S1 Microdiscectomy Surgery

Hello Everyone!

I have a microdiscectomy scheduled for 9/2 and I am counting down the days! I have periodically thrown my back out over the past couple of years but always recovered after some time until about 2 years ago. The diagnosis from two years ago was a bulging/ protruding disc but I was not a candidate for surgery. To help with the pain I underwent 3 epidurals, bilateral L2-S1 RFA, and an SI joint RFA. It somewhat helped for a little bit but recently had a new MRI and found the disc is now herniated with some other new issues. The other doctors I met with said I would need a fusion but the surgeon said I am too young and wants to do the microdiscectomy. He said it will not prevent my back from going out but it will remove the portion of the disc causing the pain. My pain is progressively getting worse so I'm desperate.
I'm worried the microdiscectomy will not completely alleviate my pain but the surgeon is reviewed to be really good.

How have people done with this surgery? Do they always do a laminectomy/laminotomy with the surgery? How long will it take till I can get back to somewhat normal life?

I'm full of questions and really nervous about reherniating. I'm 30 years old and have been suffering for so long I want to do all that I can to try and get to normal life.



  • Here some points which may help I had mircodiscectomy when I was 29, now I am 31 and pain free.

    The biggest comment I have is that once you have surgery your back will be changed for ever. You will need to focus on your pt and rehab after the surgery. It took me 18 months before I was good and 3 years to I was 100%. This pt should then become a good habit for your spines on going health.

    Some good reading before surgery would be the following

    Mackenzie method of spine health
    Sarah keys method of spine decompression, note she is very anti surgery but has some good stuff.

    Personally I would avoid a fusion at all costs, everyone I know who has had fusion surgery has ended up in a lot of pain as each spine level breaks down. In one case my mates dad is going in for back surgery number 8 for the next 2 levels to be fused, I think he would be 60% all fused now and a legal junkie on pain meds.

    If you can manage the pain for a bit longer then try the sarah keys method as it may prolong the date of when u need surgery. Remember the point pt is to delay the next surgery, because the way my surgeon put it, back surgery is like buying a computer and you will still want 50 years out of yours

    Good luck
  • I wish I could avoid surgery and I tried that for years. I am in unbelievable pain, taking pain medication (which I hate), and doing nothing but working. I will read the Machenzie method of spine health, thank you!

    Thank you for the links Liz. I think the postoperative link down plays the surgery a little much. From all of the reviews and people I know that have had the surgery, it takes longer to recover than what they are describing.
  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 08/24/2014 - 12:39 PM
    tashamarie33 said:

    How have people done with this surgery? Do they always do a laminectomy/laminotomy with the surgery? How long will it take till I can get back to somewhat normal life?

    I'm full of questions and really nervous about reherniating. I'm 30 years old and have been suffering for so long I want to do all that I can to try and get to normal life.
    Mine has been good in spite of me trying to ruin it.

    No, a lam is not always done, but most surgeons use a technique that does require it. They make a small window in the lamina (bone) in order to access the disc itself. There are however, surgeons that use a technique where they don't need to go thru the bone. Instead, they fish flexible instrumentation thru the foramins. This is the version I chose.

    It can take 6 months to get back.

    The single biggest thing tho, is something that was mentioned above. And that is, that once a disc is compromised it will always be a weak link. It will have a much lower capacity for handling normal every day life tasks. When I have gone past this limit, it was a big mistake and I have dearly paid a high price.

    So, the moral of the story (that I have learned, anyway) is to NOT to go past that limit. For me, that means, no running, no lifting heavy things, no jumping, no contact sports, etc etc. Ancillary things like drinking lots of water, traction every once in a while also help.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Further to what Paul's post, it's worth adding the following points

    I don't run jump skip or hop anymore
    I don't lift heavy things, any lifts are done with good lifting form
    I have a new bed
    I have a flash office hair
    I have a folded up towel in my car to protect my lower back
    I swim regularly
    I do Pilates once a week

    With regard to the pt
    The mackinze system will really help you with your recovery, try and find a phiso trained in the method
    After a year or so try the back block routine from sarah keys, this really helped me. Also her books are a great read, although there is a strong anti surgery vibe

    Good luck
  • Qman2QQman2 Posts: 37
    edited 08/26/2014 - 8:09 AM
    I ruptured my disk around Thanksgiving 2013. The MRI confirmed L4/L5 disc rupture. I tried oral steroids, PT, and epidurals without success. Finally met with a neurosurgeon and scheduled the surgery for the next day. (he had a cancellation). I had the laminectomy to remove material to access the disc and then the microdiscectomy. Within a couple hours after surgery, I was able to walk around pain free for the first time since the injury. I had very little pain after surgery and was under doctor's orders regarding physical activity for 3 months and released to return to all pre-injury activities after 3 months.

    I can't imagine experiencing the level of pain I had for 2 years like you have. I was definitely demoralized and could see depression coming down the road. .

    March 20, 2014 - L4/L5 Laminectomy and Microdiscectomy
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