Question: What's the next step after discectomy surgery?

My 19-year-old son had a discectomy surgery a while ago due to a disk herniation at L4-L5. He still has lower back pain, but no leg pain any more. Now we have no diagnosis.

He has had MRIs, a bone scan, physical therapy, injections, oral meds and has seen a lot of doctors, but still has no pain relief or answers. We want to get a second opinion, but do not know what type of specialist would be best suited to handle this problem.

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Doctor’s response: See a surgeon to check for surgical pathology

If your son has had previous discectomy surgery, then seeing another spine surgeon would be reasonable to check for any surgical pathology. A fellowship trained surgeon (either orthopedic or neurosurgeon) who specializes in spine surgery would probably be best suited to make this type of diagnosis.

If a surgical lesion is ruled out, then the only other option is rehabilitation for the low back, and this is often best done with a rehabilitation doctor (a physiatrist, also called a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist) who specializes in treating back pain.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.