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Micro disectomy - I need some feedback

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:18 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi, Im 33 and have just been advised I have a disc hernia on my L5 (I think) I have suffered with the oddbit of back pain since I had my daughter 12 years ago, but it has always been corrected by Physio. In January this year my daughter jumped off her bed onto my back and Physio only relieved the pain for 2/3 days. In may I was signed off work due to me having to sit at a desk in my job and it was becoming too painful. Oh, I was also diagnosed with sciatica at the age of 15yrs old in my left leg. I recently had an MRI scan which diagnosed a herniated disc and my doctor has now referred m to a spinal specialist for him to look at the possibility of doing a micro disectomy. After looking this up on google, all I seem to read is the negatives of it and the recovery time. Has anyone had this done and what are the downsides and recovery? Im a single mum and so am really scared, but know I cannot live in this pain anymore,my way of life is deteriorating before me, i have days where it even hurts to lie or walk. Can someone give me some good news.


Sally-Anne xx


  • I had an endoscopic microdiscectomy at L3/L4 in Dec 07. I had a more difficult time than I was prepared for post op. As Paul mentioned, everyone is different. You will definitely need some help for the first week or so. I don't know the ages of your children but they may be enough help. I was not able to bend, lift or twist for a couple of weeks after my surgery. Keep in mind that mine was radical meaning that they removed most of my disc. I would strongly suggest a hand held shower massage since you can't bend or twist to wash. Also one of those grabber things in order to retrieve things from the floor. Also, this may be TMI but I had an awful time using the toilet as you are not able to twist. I was very unprepared for that. They do make disposable tongs that hold toilet paper and you may want to look in to them. The surgery did help the sciatica but unfortunately made my facet pain worse. I do have facet arthropathy so this may not happen to you at all. I think that alot depends on how much of the disc that they have to remove. I by no means want to worry you about the surgery but am hoping that you will be more prepared than I was. The docs don't always tell you the worse case scenario and you may not experience it. I have read plenty of posts from people that have been pain free since they stepped off the operating table. Good luck to you and do keep us posted with your progress.
  • Hi Sally - I had a micro discectomy in January 2007. I was so scared, but when I woke up from the surgery, I had some feeling back in my calf and foot (they had become completely numb, expediting the need for surgery) and the relief was worth it. I have since re-herniated (L5 / S1) and am trying a mix (meds, cortisone shots, phys therapy etc) to try to at least postpone another surgery.

    Anyhow, the first week after the surgery was the toughest, no bending, lifting or twisting. My boyfriend would come home from work in the evenings and find stuff all over the floor that I dropped and could not pick up :) If you have someone (friend, relative) who can stay with you for that first week, that would certainly take the stress away. I took a disability leave from work for 6 weeks, enough time to start phys therapy and stop meds.

    Another suggestion - my surgeon gave me the names of two of his post-op patients that would be willing to talk to me about their experience. I had a long phone call with one of them and that really eased my apprehension.
    -- Melissa
  • From when you all saw the spinal specialist, how soon until you were referred for the operation? I am worried as due to pay the balance of a holiday in Mid september and am now thinking I should maybe cancel this? What do you guys think?
  • For me it was about 1 month - I went downhill so fast, I didn't have time to weigh options and try alternative therapies. I lost feeling in my foot and leg, and had these muscle cramps that in hindsight, I probably should have gone to the emergency room, they would go on for an hour or so... but everyone is different, it depends on your tolerance for pain, if there are more conservative treatments, etc.
  • Welcome and I hope things go well for you!! If you look up information here on SH (articles or searches) I think you will find a lot of your answers as well as a lot of questions to ask your doctor.
    Fortunately for you here on SH there are wonderful people here that will answer your questions as best they can, be supportive or just listen and show how much they care!! I have never once been disappointed by the caring people of SH. They will be honest with you and if there is something they can't answer they will point you in the right direction for your answers.
    I'm glad you're here and I wish you all the best.

    Take Care,
  • Well my doctor wrote to the spinal specialist last week and Im guesing he willo contact me within the next 2 weeks for an appointment, just wondered from there how soon would i expect the surgery to take place? Have read all the negatives of having the op on other sites and trying to stay positive, ie the worst case scenario. I have a great bunch of friends who will help after the op too, just really scared of the unknown plus this will be my first ever stay in hospital apart from when I gave birth 12 years ago!!!!!
  • Hi Sally, I had a discectomy in March but don't think it was "micro" -my scar is ~3inches.
    I could walk ~half a mile after 3 days, 2 miles after about 10 days, that sort of improvment.

    I'm doign really well and my "success" story is here http://www.spine-health.com/forum/good-news/many-successful-surgical-patient-outcomes
    if you'd like to read it for some inspiration.

    You will need some help for the first few weeks after you get out of hospital definitely. -get someone to come round to cook for you etc!

    The lenght of time really depends on how urgent they think you are. I was rushed in due to suspected auda equina syndrome -which leads to irreversible damage if left untreated.

    Are you in UK? Keep nagging your gp if you don't hear from anyone. Honest, it works!
  • Yeah I am in the UK, in devon. Just found out one of my daughters friends mums had the op a few years ago ao she has reassured me. Basically in the last week I have gone right downhill and its really painful now when i drive (using my left leg for the clutch) But as a single mum I have no choice to not drive
  • Well after being tolod I could se the Spinal consultant at the end of ugust I have taken drastic measures and and am seeing him privately on 21/07/08. Am hoping from this he will refer me for the op quicker. Having good days and bad days,(mostly bad) and have postponed my holiday in September to next Easter. My 12 year old daughter is being a fantastic help also. Friends are telling me its all sorted for when I go in so one less thing to worry about.
  • I had a microdiscectomy in April 2008, and there was an instant improvement. The road to full improvement is long, as it takes the nerve a while to heal, but at least for me I was able to do a lot more with less pain a few days after the surgery. The success rate is 90-95%, as good as it gets for a surgery. It's important to have it done within 3-6 months of onset, I've been told. 3 months by my doctor, 6 months via online research. So get it done as soon as you can!
  • Hi Sally-Anne,
    good luck on the 21st.Hope they schedule you soon.

  • Well saw the spinal surgeon on 21st July and the man was a geius, he diagnosed me before even looking at my MRI scan pictures. The waiting list here in Exeter is 18 weeks, but he hopes I will be in from 6-18 weeks. I have even put my name on the cancellation list in the hope of getting in sooner. I now have a numb left bum cheek and am starting to lose sensation in my groin area. I have made my GP aware of this and he is sending a letter to the spinal unit again in the hopes of getting me in sooner. Am getting quite scared now but just want to be able to be active again as I used to be. Any post op info from other L5 S1 micro discectomy patients would be great to reassure me or show me the light at the end of the tunnel.........
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