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l5-s1 micro-d ... no pain 3 weeks post-op, then nerve pain down opposite leg

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

I had major L1-S5 herniation and a micro-discectomy almost 4 weeks ago.

I have been doing great. Getting stronger to the point that I have hit 3 miles walking daily (45 mins), doing PT (including TvA and multifidus strengthening), and even back to work. My incision is all but closed and I have very little muscular discomfort.

Then, all of a sudden, after 3 weeks, I have started getting nerve pain (same type of pain as before) down my opposite leg and buttocks. It is more centered around my hamstring than the outside of the leg, but it is not muscular pain. I feel it when standing straight and extending a straight leg forward (which was the sure sign of a herniation the first time). The pain is not severe (1 or 2 at the most), but I am emotionally "down" and it is on my mind.

Question for the group ... is this in any way at all typical? SHould I be concerned? I am going to the doc again on Thursday.

One other thing ... I haven't been on pain meds since week 1 but wonder if going back on the NSAIDS makes sense. Will call my doc's assistant on that on Monday.

Thanks again and best of luck to you all.


  • You know I had a similar episode although I have yet to have surgery.
    About one month after I had an acute attack of Left lumbar pain and sciatica, I developed severe pain on the right.
    My physician explained that with disc disease the tissue is quite pliable and can move somewhat to involve the nerve root on the opposite side.
    I had an epidural on the right side (where there is no abnormality on the MRI) and have no more pain there.
    On the left where I have radiologic abnormalities the pain continues despite an epidural.
    I think you should be OK.
    My own opinion is that because of pain on one side our muscles are overworked on the opposite "good" side and therefore develop pain from muscle over stretching occurs...
    Hope this makes sense to you
  • Sorry to hear about the new pain.I think you're doing little too much that early in recovery.When we feel better,we tend to think that it's all done.Unfortunately that's not the case. MicroD,being the most simple spinal surgery,is still a major one.Maybe you knew that already but,the highest risk for re-herniation is during the first six weeks.I hope that's not your case.Until you see the doc,give it some rest,and ice it.
    BTW,did you get cleared buy your doc to walk and exercise so much?Hope you feel better!

  • What is most likely happening is that you are aggrevating the incision area muscles causing pressure on the nerve root, the opposite side being predominant.

    Back off a bit and see if it diminishes, if it does not after about 2 weeks, call your doc and see what he thinks.... But I really do think it is quite natural for your trying to be a super heoro -- and good for you... but relax for awhile.

    Best wishes......
  • Triniboy, I was in your position about 11 months ago. I had a MAJOR herniation of L5-S1 on the left side (Apr 07), and had the endoscopic micro-D done in July 07. Did really well immediately after surgery, though nowhere near the point you're at (I got up to 30 minute walks, twice a day). Did pretty well through the fall and winter, getting back to work after ~2 months of rehab (good stuff). About 7 months post surgery I began having residual pain/tingling down the left leg, and remained symptomatic on straight leg raises, but the pain was down and my strength/S1 reflex were definitely better. Unfortunately, a recent move gave me another flare up on the right side. I began hitting all the alternative treatments (Chiro, PT, acupuncture) in order to get myself unkinked. I also convinced my new doc to send me for a follow up MRI, as I was concerned about re-herniation or epidural fibrosis problems. Wouldn't ya nkow it, the scan showed a new "protrusion" at the same level, opposite side (central/right) just about the same time I became symptomatic on that side as well. I've always been prone to compensation injuries, so I'm not surprise if I was simply building up stregth too much in one direction and it finally caught up with me. I'm told it's DDD, which doesn't really surprise me either. My gut feeling, however is that the Chiro did an incorrect manipulation (before I could stop her) and this was the final straw. Will never know, as the MRI was done after the Chiro appointments. In the end, it doesn't really matter, as I now have to live with it (and an opinion from the NS that I'll need something more invasive one of these days). My one bit of advice to you would be to back off a bit, let your body heal well, and keep your Doc and PT in the loop with any problems you might be having. Better to be a bit paranoid and nip things in the bud than get to where I'm at....LOL!!!
  • youre doing way too much too soon. Remember, your body is still healing. Dont push it furthur than it wants to go. Sometime too much of a good thing is bad.

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
  • great advice! i will tone down the exercise and consult with the doc next week. it is absolutely true that I have been feeling good and pushing myself to get better. hopefully this is not a reherniation and more muscular imbalances as they strengthen. I will let you know what the doc says.

    this is truly an amazing site!
  • Settle down there tiger! ;) Too much - too soon = OUCH!

    I too had a "large herniation" L5/S1 - and had a microdisc/lami.

    I started having pain about week 6 post op - during PT sessions (where I was doing WAY too much). Now I am the proud owner of some nasty scar tissue - and it is here to stay. Wrapped itself around the nerve root - which causes the sciatic pain - zappers on my right leg and cramps/zappers on my left. :(

    I was told, "If your disc re-herniates, you will KNOW it".

    My (now fired) PCP said, "people that have back surgery still have back pain" and would not order an MRI. I ended up getting one a week later and it showed the scar tissue. :(
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