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Reherniation or Inflammation?

alex721aalex721 Posts: 9
edited 06/22/2015 - 7:04 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

I had a microdiscectomy for a fairly large (size of a quarter) herniation at my L5-S1 disc just over six weeks ago. My nerve pain was mostly gone the first two weeks, but since then, the pain seems to have come back. In the last week, especially, I've been feeling a kind of sharp, stabbing pain, mostly around the area of the incision and a bit into the buttock. It tends to be a mild discomfort most of the time, with periodic bursts of pain, for about 10-20 seconds. Some times I don't feel the discomfort at all; it goes in waves throughout the day, but I do feel it pretty much every day. Pain seems to not be associated with any particular activity, though I generally notice it more after sitting for a while, and also when I first wake up in the morning.

I'm really starting to worry about possible re-herniation. The doctor said that it can take 2-3 months for the nerves to calm down, but is this type of pain expected? It feels similar to the pain I had pre-surgery, but is centered closer to the incision area and is a bit less severe. Has anyone else experienced something similar? How do you tell apart inflammation vs re-herniation? If anyone has re-herniated, was it very obvious, or were the symptoms like what I described above?

Would appreciate any help! Thanks!


  • Given we all heal differently you've likely read stories here going both ways. I was unfortunate enough to re-herniate. I felt awesome for the first two & a half weeks, then had the pre-surgery pain return over a week or so. My Neuro sent me off for an MRI 6 weeks post surgery & I had a redo MicroD 8 weeks to the day of the first. For me the re-herniation was obvious but I know someone who thought they had for it to settle around 3months so it was declared inflammation. I awoke from round 2 & immediately knew it wasn't right. I had pain I had never had before in my ankle which even after a fusion is still not resolved.

    It's hard not to stress about the possibility of a re-herniation. I still am overly cautious & careful. I think the main thing to remember is that you'll need to be careful for life. I was a bit naive & thought all would go back to 'normal'. Six weeks is still early in the scheme of things & nerves have a mind of their own! If in doubt I'd be calling your dr. I hope it resolves for you.

    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
  • Sorry you are suffering again. I had my second surgery just over 6 weeks ago and have experienced similar pain but mine is connected to the damaged nerve 'finding its feet' after being released and having scar tissue removed which built up after second re herniation while waiting for surgery.

    I have now been prescribed Pregabalin because of extent of nerve pain, due to it being trapped over 2 extended periods. We are hoping this will enable me to get full benefit from hydro and physio therapy. Nerve healing is a long process. What you may be feeling is the nerve firing to regenerate itself, but only your doctor can confirm that for you.

    Good luck with your healing
    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015

  • I had the same experience. I'm 4 weeks post-op and ended up in the ER this weekend because it was the only way for me to get an MRI. I was convinced I had reherniated due to the popping sound before my pain returned, but my MRI just showed inflammation. My surgeon prescribed a steroid pack and I'm following up with him next week.
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
  • Thank you all for your comments. Since I posted, the last few days have been much better. I've been taking Aleve + some anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and tumeric, which seems to have helped. I'm seeing my doctor next week for a post-op so hopefully he says this is normal. AJ / Veronica - when you re-herniated, was your pain more or less constant, or did you have days where it felt normal?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    On a combination of post surgical pain and worrying.

    I am aware of situations when a patient re-herniated a disc. But that is not often or common.

    Unless the patient did some really aggressive activities having a re herniation should not be on your mind.

    But as always I have to state that I am not s medical professional so to get the real medical advice, ask your doctor
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • My herniation was obvious as I had returned leg pain. The reason I ask for a referral back from my physio to surgeon was due to also experiencing new nerve pain in left leg and different nerve pathway pain in right leg where the original pain had been. My physio was a little patronising in his letter to my surgeon, finishing it with 'if only to put her mind at rest'!!! Guess I know my own body and worked out what I was feeling.

    My repeat MRI not only showed herniation at L5/S1 but also herniation at L4/L5, which explained the new pathway pain.

    I have three discs with problems which probably added to risk. My surgeon is doing the minimum to relieve nerve problems as he is trying to avoid fusion, as he says I am too young . . . he he a nice comment for somebody creeping close to half a century :-). I totally understand his reluctance to fuse unless no other option.

    I will deep my fingers crossed for you with your appointment and progress. Please let us all know how you get on.

    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015

  • Hi all,

    Just wanted to say that post-op went well. The doctor said these symptoms are normal for even several months after surgery, and a re-herniation would have caused a constant leg pain for at least several weeks. He said ups and downs of pain are very typical recovery for microdiscectomy patients for the first few months. Hope this helps anyone who stumbles across this thread with similar concerns :)
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