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Microdisectomy Recovery – Returned Pain Week 5 Post Operation

Hi Everyone,

I’m a 33 year old, male and I've recently had a microdisectomy (6.5 weeks ago 21st July 2014) to remove a large L4/L5 herniated disc which was pressing right central on my sciatic nerve. This was causing severe pain in my right buttock, occasionally moving to the left, and pins and needles in my legs. I struggled to sit, drive and for the final couple of weeks before the operation walking had become painful and I would have to rest every 500 metres or so.

I’ve been using this forum over the past several weeks and would like to thank everyone for their contributions which have been extremely useful to assist me (and put me at ease) in my recovery period.

Post operation my recovery was going really well up until week5. Late in week 1 light pain returned in my right buttock, this intensified over weeks 2 and 3. Week 4 the pain significantly reduced and I was feeling really good. Throughout my recovery I have walked every day, building up my distance and I also incorporated swimming into my rehabilitation on week 3. I had been told not to do any Physiotherapy (PT) between the operation and my follow up appointment with my surgeon on the 25th of September (9.5wks post surgery).

So on week 5, I went for an early morning walk, along a flat path. I was well rested and it was my first walk of the day. Pre-walk i felt no pain in my buttock and just a very dull ache remained around my incision area. Approximately 15minutes into the walk I felt a twinge in the right side of my back. I hadn’t slipped or tripped on anything, it just seemed to happen. I immediately sat at the nearest bench to recover and then went home.

The rest of the day I minimised walking as the ache in my back was a little more noticeable, but nothing alarming. The following morning when walking I noticed that the pain returned to my right buttock. This pain intensified as I walked and light glute stretching and priformis stretching intensified this pain. My hamstring on my right outer leg also became very tight when walking. The pain in my lower back was still present but there was also some noticeable swelling of area. I therefore minimise activity but still avoided sitting for periods in excess of 40 minutes.

Although I continued to experience pain when walking, I attended two swimming sessions on the Thursday and Friday of around 20 mins each. These sessions demonstrated that no pain was encountered when kicking, using kick board on front or back. Walking backwards also removed the pain to a degree.

Walking had become extremely painful and I often found that I had to hunch over to recover from the pain in my right buttock, after very short distances, much shorter than pre-operation. On the Saturday and Sunday using a GPS tracker, I undertook several short walks from my house and found that when setting off, I was relatively pain free. As I walked past 100/120metres pain in my right buttock would appear and intensify, this pain spread to my right outer hamstring. At a distance of around 200-220 metres my leg and buttock felt on fire and I could not continue to walk without severe discomfort. I now feel the pain when standing for periods also or sitting down. I find that I am most comfortable lying on my back with my knee slightly bent and my right foot elevated.

I have since been back to the hospital for advice and was tested for Cauda Equina Syndrome. They concluded that I was not at risk and I am therefore waiting to have an MRI scan on the 21st of September (3 weeks from now) and I will then see my surgeon on the 25th as planned originally.

Anyway so that is where I am now. I’m back at home, 6-7 weeks after the operation, in very similar pain I had before the microdisectomy. I’ve decided not to return to work unless the pain lessens.

I’d just like to ask if anyone has had any similar experiences or issues and if so what was the outcome? - It really feels like something is pushing and angering a nerve when I walk and stretch my right foot forward.

To go from week 5 with almost no pain, to week 6 and now 7 with pre-op pain and symptoms is frightening, I’m guessing it could be a re-hernation, but I’m hoping it may be just scar tissue or even just muscular, the area around my wound is still very inflamed, to touch the surrounding area feels like it is swollen and squidgy. There are also small hard lumps assumed to be scar tissue.

Any advice would be most welcome.

Many thanks,



  • Peter,

    I'm sorry you're experiencing pain once again. Your story is a bit different than mine, but I did reherniate 5 weeks after my first discectomy. What you're describing sounds familiar enough that it definitely could be that. In my case, I had a second discectomy and am now about 3 weeks out from that and hoping that I am done for good this time.

    I hope it turns out to be nothing, but even if you do reherniate, it is not terribly uncommon.
    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
  • Hi Christina,

    Thanks for both your kind words and for sharing your experience. I'm sorry to hear you've been through the same and have had to have a second discetomy. I'm glad it's going well and wish you the best for a full recovery this time.

    Cheers, Peter
  • Further to the above I've since discovered that I don't seem to experience the pain in my buttock or hamstring when walking up and down steps at home (been up and down today 20 times in a row several times), but I still get the pain when walking on flat paths (max distance 200m). I also get the pain when standing still for relatively short periods. Not sure what this means if anything. Fingers crossed its a sign off recovery.
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