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Nerve pain came back 4 weeks after microdiscectomy

tlebottlebo Posts: 2
edited 04/18/2015 - 8:47 PM in Recovering from Surgery
I had L4-L5 microdiscectomy in mid-March (4 weeks ago) to resolve a severely herniated disc and terrible nerve pain that went all down my left leg, with numbness in the left toes. When I awoke from surgery, the nerve pain was immediately gone, and over the first 3 weeks post-surgery, I felt better each day, with no leg pain. It was hard to sit more than 30-45 minutes without some pain in the glutes and around the incision, but no leg pain. I started driving again, started sitting at the computer working from home, and I was walking every day. I definitely felt like I was on the road to recovery.

But then, at 4 weeks, the nerve pain in the left leg came back - with a vengeance. When I lie down flat, no pain; but when I sit or stand for just a few minutes, my left leg screams in pain - glutes, hamstrings, calf. Is this recurrence normal? I feel like I have been compliant with all instructions to take it slow, not lift, etc., but I am very concerned about the recurrence of the leg pain - which is unbearable.

NS said this can happen as the surgical anesthetic wears off and he put me back on a medrol dose pack, which I started yesterday, to see if the steroid will help. It would be helpful to hear from anyone who has had a similar recurrence of the nerve leg pain a few weeks post-surgery. Hopefully this is temporary. Any words of wisdom or similar personal experiences (hopefully positive!) would be much appreciated. Thanks.


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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Tlebo. There are loads of personal stories regarding lumbar microdiscectomies.
    Mine is one of them. Just search for 'my journey' thread and see the info.
    That being said in my personal opinion and experience that kind of pain is normal. I had it for 2 weeks(week5-6) and ten it nearly completely wet away.
  • Following up - a week later, still having the leg pain. MRI showed no reherniation, so the nerve is just being bothered. I had one day of mild relief yesterday but the pain is back to high levels today. I was jostled around when cab driver accelerated into a speed bump, and that probably triggered the recurrent nerve pain in the leg. Plan is to rest more and hope it will go away on its own. I'd love to hear from anyone who had recurrent nerve pain several weeks after a microdiscetomy and whether it went away (and when). Thanks.
  • Hi there - I had an L4/L5 microdiscectomy two months ago (end of Feb). Like you, I felt pretty good in the weeks after the surgery, but then maybe at 3 week mark, the pain was coming back (or at least not continuing to go away). It was not on the same scale that you're currently feeling it. More like, when I was standing for a while, or if I had walked about .25 mile, I would feel the same pain in my buttocks and down my leg, so that I'd need to sit down. Lying down for about 10 minutes would resolve it all. So, mid-March (3 weeks out), my doctor prescribed an NSAID (celebrex), and I also started doing physical therapy at the same time, which has also helped a lot. My physical therapist (who is obviously not an MD) said that he thought the pain down the leg was normal because I'm active again. Now, I feel the pain when I do certain exercises (e.g., planking), or when I've walked quite a distance, but I do also just feel it randomly at times. I feel like I'm on the upswing, though, and I hope you'll have the same experience. The fact that you know you haven't re-herniated must be a huge relief, I hope that an anti-inflammatory and physical therapy will give you relief as well.

    My co-worker had a microdiscectomy many years ago, and she told me that she felt it down her leg for about a year after the surgery. So, I'm trying to be optimistic that it will all be gone soon, but am also curious to hear other's experiences in this thread.
  • After my first discectomy in October 2011, I still had some nerve pain and my surgeon prescribed Lyrica. It worked amazingly well for me. I took it for about 2 months and then the pain stopped. You may want to ask about it.
  • Morning!

    Same story as yours pre-surgery without the numbness. I had surgery on March 11th of this year and post-surgery at 7 days a much more mild version of the radiating pain down my leg came back. However by the time I went back for my post-op doctor's visit at three weeks I was pain free. I continued not to push myself too much but I've recently started jogging and doing some body weight exercises. That coupled with doing more around the house has brought the pain back, but no where near as bad as before. Similarly to the previous comment, I have the most pain when I do the plank position while working out.
    I'm hopeful that it is just the nerve irritated or muscle soreness from having not used my left leg much in the 9 months prior to the surgery. I have an inversion table that used to provide instant relief for my pain but now when I invert I still have some pain. I would find comfort in the fact that you have had another MRI that has indicated that you haven't had a reoccurrence.
    Lastly, I found out about this procedure from a friend who had already had it done on him 9 years ago. To this day he will have his pain come back when he does a little too much at work or at the house but it doesn't happen very often and it has never been as severe as it was before the surgery.

    Some tips I've found for pain relief pre and post op:
    Inversion tables are expensive but worth it if you are having a very bad day. I started off every day on my inversion table for 30 minutes, no need to be completely inverted, 30degrees does the trick.
    I have an office job, so I sit down quite a bit and struggle to maintain good posture. Sitting was also one of the more painful things I could do pre-surgery, I was the most comfortable standing. I've found that sitting on a exercise ball helps with both my posture and my leg/butt pain(currently sitting on one now).
    Acupuncture provided a lot of lasting (7 days or so) relief, but it gets expensive.

    Hope this helps and I hope by now you are free of pain.
  • I had a microdiscectomy, laminotomy. All the nerve pain is gone yeah. Was doing well til 6_weeks. Now back pain is back. I am hoping this is because most surgeons bathe the incision with steroids and/ or numbing agents. When they wear off pain return. I wish I knew the answer. As far as the nerve it took my first surgery close to a year to heal from ankle to hip. I feel as if this surgery has failed but was told to give it 6 more weeks.
    Good luck to everyone
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
  • During my first surgery l5/s1 I woke with nerve pain which I had had for over 8 months. My doctor told me the nerve would heal 1 mm a day. He was right. Within 6 months I was so much better. I hate to say that the nerve takes time to heal but it does.
    My frustration is that many surgeons bathe the incision with steroids or numbing agents so that when we start to hurt 3 to 6 weeks later we are terrified we have done something else. I am trying to hold on, I was doing so well for 5 weeks, could not believe my luck this time but then the back pain came back.
    Good luck to you
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    edited 10/19/2015 - 10:59 AM
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  • dmtaubddmtaub Posts: 1
    edited 12/10/2015 - 7:00 AM
    As the title said, I'm 1 month post op, about 3 days into PT. I have been 99% pain free, as I sometimes get some minor nerve irritation in my calf and achillies (those were where I had the most pain prior). The doctor and PT doc have both said I am going to have ups and downs for the next 3-6 months as the nerve heals, but I need to work on my muscle strengthening and loosening. It takes a long time for the nerve to heal. I have found that just light walking, icing after anything active (PT or walking) and just generally taking it easy are the best course. I felt really got at 3 weeks and had to really fight the urge to get back to the court (racquetball) and golf course. I know its a process, but you have your entire life and only 1 back. Take care of it!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    But mine re-herniated. I even got into a argument with the neurosurgeon who wanted to send me to PT and I told him no surgery failed so he sent me downstairs for cat scan and sure enough I had reherniated so back to surgery I went. That discectomy lasted years before giving out and had to have a fusion. Good luck
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    I am having the same horrible pain that started originally from shoveling snow 3 yrs ago. I had a extruded fragment that was missed and took 5 months to figure out. I had a microdiscetomy of L3-4 in May of 2013 and experienced lasting nerve pain that healed very slowly. Well now I have a reherniation and am scheduled for an epidural next week! Don't know how it happened and am scared at the prospect for another surgery! Any others in this situation?
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