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Questions about L5/S1 microdiscetomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

I am a new member on this site and am so glad I discovered it. What a great resource for people with back pain. I have been diagosed with a large, broad-based paracentral herniation of the L5/S1 disc. I've been in pain since early May and have tried NSAIDs, PT, Medrol dose pack, stretching exercises every day and 2 epidural steroid injections. As I know everyone understands, it is extremly frustrating to go from being a very active person (I have been teaching Cycling and body toning classes for 8 years, and have run in numerous 5 and 10K races) to suddenly having to stop all physical activity. I've also lost countless hours of work time (I'm on partial disability). My employers have been understanding but I'm sure that won't last forever.

I am now scheduled for a microdiscetomy. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to the surgery because I am hopeful that I will get my life back. Can anyone provide input, suggestions and let me know how long before I can retuirn to normal activities? Also, what does ALIF stand for? Thanks. :)


  • Hi! Eacch person is different, I was back to work three weeks after a microdisectomy/laminectomy surgery....for others it has been months. There are so many things that factor in. Just remember, physically your in good shape so that should help. Follow the doctors restrictions, they are there for a reason. And don't try to rush through it, you may end up worse off if you reinjure yourself. That being said, I wish you well wit your surgery, let us know how things go, there are people here for you.


    fyi- ALIF = anterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Thanks for your reply, Anna. Why did your disc space collapse? That doesn't sound good...
  • I was so happy when I finally got mine done!image I would have done the happy dance, but my body would not let me.
    Just take it easy for awhile when you get home. Walking is the best thing. Do not bend or twist. No laundry. No lifting.
    I would lay down, walk around, sit down, walk around, lay down - you get the gist.
    You are already fit, so that is a big plus for you.
    Be careful not to over do it when you finally get the green light. I did and now I have scar tissue surrounding the nerve root.
  • I had a disectomy/laminectomy 6wks ago and am just starting to get my life back. It has been a slower process than i would have liked.
    Hower, my hubby had a micro like you will be having and he was back to work in 3wks. We ride horse alot and his body would not allow him to get on a horse for 6months.
    I was told by our doc that we must not jump back into our strenous activites for several months.
    this is a hard recovery and you never want to go through it again. Just take it easy and look forward to next summer when you will be able to do all the things you love.
    I have rediscovered reading, painting and spending time with the Lord.
  • And it helped me greatly. Most of my leg pain disappeared, which is a huge relief. I've had chronic problems longer than you, so I also have foot pain/numbness that is going to take longer to heal. So I can understand your wanting the surgery. I was initially hoping for a nonsurgical recovery but some of us reach a certain point where it becomes clear that is what you need.

    Since I had a very large herniation, my doc was conservative in my return to work (week 6). I saw him at week 5 and my sitting tolerance was really low, so he gave me another week. And I'm still working part time, but have inched forward from 3.5 hours/day to around 6 hours. I have a desk at work that I can raise and lower, so I stand a lot when working.

    I've been in physical therapy for several weeks now and it has been helpful to me getting back some of the strength I lost in the affected calf, helping to re-strengthen the core muscles, etc.

    Best wishes for the surgery!

  • Hello Everyone- these postings are quite helpful. My surgery is this week and I am feeling pretty anxious (but am also looking forward to some relief). I started with back pain about 8 months ago, did 4 months of PT but the pain returned soon after. When the leg pain returned (I have little back pain now) it was much more severe and I also started experiencing numbness, first in 2 toes and now my entire foot. I also saw a chiropractor for a few weeks, but it was not helpful in relieving the pain.

    I understand that I will need to take it easy and am concerned because I have a toddler. How much help am I going to need? I have family staying with me for the first week- am I going to need more than that? How much time will I need before I can do things like laundry, dishes, etc.

    How difficult are other things like using the bathroom, getting dressed, etc? Did others who have had this surgery go home the same day as the surgery?

  • My surgery is scheduled for this Thursday, 7/17. Even though it's only been about 9-10 weeks, the pain has been unbearable at times. Even with Diualdid, the pain can be really awful (apparently my herniation is pretty large, but I'm sure any herniation would be bad).

    I have 2 small kids and the hardest part is not being to ride bikes with them, take a walk with them or sit on the floor to play a game without excruciating pain. I miss my old life very much and I'm excited about eventually getting my life back. I will definitely follow doctor's orders, but I am hopeful for a relatively fast recovery. It is so great to hear stories about people that had successful surgeries and were relieved to have made that choice.

    I will definitely keep all of you posted on my progress, and thanks again for the positive messages. :)
  • You may need help for more than 1 week. Everyone is so different in the healing time. But, with a little one I would say that you will need help longer. You may want handheld shower massage for showering so you don't have to bend and twist and using tp after bowel movement is next to impossible. The make disposable tongs that you can buy at home health store and you really need to get some. Also a grabber will be needed to get things without bending or twisting, reaching. ie underwear off the floor. Cup from table. I got mine at a general dollar store for $5 but most drug stores also carry. Good luck and keep us posted.
    oh yeah and you may want to get some nightgowns/nightshirts putting on pants is impossible without help.
  • Hi Drw,

    I am a stay at home Mum to a baby and a toddler and I had a microD in Jan at L4L5. I went to my parents place for 2 weeks post op and was back at home managing by myself after that. My DH works long hours so I was coping with the 2 little ones alone in the day OK but obviously had to be pretty careful with lifting. I found the "Mum" stuff was fine but the housework was pretty hard to keep on top of as I couldn't lift the laundry basket for a couple of months.

    Hope you get on well with the surgery, I think mine has been a big success and 6 months on have my old life back.

    Good luck with it

  • Hope the surgery goes really well, looking forward to hearing your story when you get home.

  • youll be fine the hard part is the firs few days i went back to work after my first in a week after i had a second recantly and they wont let me go back for atleast six its depends on how you fill and what the doctor says for you
  • Good luck to everyone with the upcoming surgeries here.

    I am 11 weeks out today and much better than I was before. I still have some foot numbness and leg pain (occassionally)....but I am able to function now and do most of the things I enjoy.

    I am not 100% yet, and who knows if that will ever happen...but compared to where I was...having surgery was a great decision.

    Good luck....also, those with toddlers, be careful with them...there are pretty significant lifting restrictions for several weeks out.
  • I had my 2nd sugery on 7-9 . when i had my first my kids were 2 / 4 i had a baby sitter for about 2 mounths my youngest was slow potty training and i couldn't bend to change him . I say get all the help you can the worst thing would be to re injure take it from me it sucks. good luck
  • I had an L5-S1 micro D and laminotomy. I have a toddler. I had assistance the first 2 weeks. I was doing most of the childcare at 1.5 weeks. I can sit on the floor comfortably for brief periods. So I change diapers on a pad on the floor. Luckily my daughter is at the age where she wants to do everything herself - so I let her! She also loves to help. I read to her a lot and do art projects at the counter or on the table. Last week I hired a student to clean the house. I have my husband do the laundry, get groceries, and fill/empty the dishwasher. I take someone who can lift my daughter to the park with me. My husband also gives my daughter her bath now. Early on I could wash dishes, fold clothes, prepare food, dust, and do computer work - with rest breaks between activities. I was very active pre-surgery and I miss it so much! It is everything I can do to stop from pushing ahead too fast. I am walking a mile or two everyday. Biding my time...

    Good luck!
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