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L4/L5 Post Op

spine82sspine82 Posts: 1
edited 12/01/2015 - 7:19 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm going to try to keep this simple so it isn't too much to read. It's chronological. I appreciate any feedback anyone can give me, so thank you in advance.

-Female, 20
-Back pain January 2015
-Chiropractics end of January to mid February
-MRI middle of march -- Sciatica got SO bad and I couldn't take the pain, or walk.
(Result: 2 bulging discs, L4 and L5 with an annular tear, L5 and S1)
-Referred to physical therapy. Went through 2 facilities. Neither helped, only enabled temporary relief.)
-2 steroid injections middle of May, beginning of July.
-Went to a new doctor after 2nd injection did not work. He told me if I was in the kind of pain I was in after 3 months, it was time to consider surgery. By this time, I had been in pain/had back problems for 7 months. It was time for surgery. He said a new MRI was unnecessary, though the one he was going off of was from 4 months ago.
-Lumbar microdiscectomy on the L4/L5 (which was more protruded), surgery at the end of July.
Doctor said the bulge had practically hardened because it was left for so long. They didn't have to use the camera to look for it, as soon as they cut in it was extremely visible. He said the bulge could be removed quickly. Mine took them at least 20 minutes to remove. There was a lot.

It's been 4 months since my surgery. I have had one spasm where I wasn't able to stand. An anti-inflamatory helped in addition to rest and ice for about 2 days. The doctor said this would happen and it was okay. Before my surgery, I worked out 6 days a week, 2 hours a day. I did lots of cardio and strength training to get in shape and tone myself. The doctor said it would be about 6 months post-op before I should consider running again, and even then I should swim > bike > elliptical > jog > run (keep low impact on my spine) He didn't put me through more pt because he didn't want me to re-herniate my discs. Rest and waiting for it to harden over again would be best.

Does anyone have any thoughts or a similar situation to mine? I can't wait to be able to workout again, as I loved it before.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/21/2015 - 8:48 PM
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    Liz -Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    edited 11/22/2015 - 2:06 AM
    The surgery fixed your nerve pain but it did not "cure" you... The chunk of your disc the doctor cut away will NOT grow back it will only scar over. The bigger the chunk they cut away the more your spine will be compromised for the rest of your life. Sure you can go back to running but it could end up stressing your back and you will end up back in pain/surgery. Swim... bike.. etc... to your hearts content... but in my experience spine jarring running will be a big risk. I had surgery in 2013 and after 12 months I went back to the heavy lifting and other spine stressful/jarring activities... and I ended up reherniating my disc.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • I honestly was never able to return to running after my microdiscectomy. I ended up with a one level fusion, and am now going through the long one year wait to get the green light from my Doctor to run again... That said I had a pars fracture that was causing a great deal of instability in the spine and you presumably do not.
    You really do need to be careful as your return to activity... I think the terms your doc has given you are really odd though, like "waiting for it to harden?" nothing is going to harden, that makes absolutely no sense. Even the bone window that is usually cut out to remove the disc, does not "harden over" again, it typically doesn't grow back.
    I also think his priorities for exercise are a bit wrong, probably because he doesn't understand swimming. Swimming puts a great deal of pressure and torque on the low back due to breathing. When I returned to swimming, I went back for quite a while with a swim snorkel so that I didn't have that torque. The torque is worse if you are not a regular swimmer in the past, as stroke technique and such can be pretty bad, if you weren't a swimmer before... I would think the elliptical is actually one of the easiest things on the spine because there is not impact, and your feet/legs are pretty much set in the platforms, so you can't misstep or do anything like that.
    I returned to swimming about 90 days after my surgery, as well as the ARC trainer (a kind of elliptical) and some core training. Sounds great, but I did have some more bulging of the disc that was partly removed. I have another friend who had an L4-5 Micro-D and returned to Iron man competition within 9 months, but 12 months out he reherniated a different disc.... for which he did not need surgery.... i would recommend starting back with a smart trainer with lots of experience working with this kind of thing... and I know you really miss it so I wish you the best of success!!!!
  • TallgrassTTallgrass Posts: 2
    edited 12/03/2015 - 8:55 AM
    I just had micro D surgery on L4/L5 and my Dr. Told me the same thing re: "harden" meaning the outer portion of the disc scars over where the damaged portion was removed, and protects what's left of the soft interior. The outer shell is never as strong as it was originally , so it is easier to re-injure.
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    i was an avid runner and had surgery 2 1/2 years ago for a extruded disc fragment lodged in my L4 nerve root. At the time the Dr reported that my disc had healed over and did not need repair. Well I have really wanted to run and I occasionally jogged a few steps but mostly walked until last week. I also had started trying yoga at my PT suggestion and all of a sudden I am experiencing the same leg pain as before my surgery! I am so discouraged. MRI tomorrow and dr next week. I too love to run and hope to be able to feel the breeze on my face someday.
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