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25 years old - 2nd re-herniation in 5 months

Hi everyone, looking for some advice. 

I'm a 25 year old male who was originally diagnosed with a mild herniation at L5/S1 back in 2014. It was caused when lifting a Christmas Tree at work. My doctor recommended finishing my degree and quit manual labor and I should be okay.

Fast forward to February 2017, where I was working from home using my computer. I was pretty good about standing through most of the work day, and was working out 3x a week (racquetball, general cardio). I started to feel the typical sciatic pain tract down from my lower back, through my left buttock, and all the way down to my toes in my left foot. I sought medical attention, and a laminotomy at the L5/S1 level was recommended. After seeing a chiropractor, acupuncture, dry-needling, inversion therapy, 3 rounds of ESI, 3 months of PT, the whole 9 yards - I had my first surgery in October of 2017, and the pain in my leg that had been causing me near immobility for 8 months was finally gone.

I unfortunately caught a cold after a month of recovery. I had already returned to work. An intense coughing bout caused an acute pain that was worse than before the surgery, radiating from the incision to my left toes. Upon MRI investigation, the disc had re-herniated, and it was about 3x larger than before the surgery. 

My doctor told me he wanted me to try some PT and get an ESI, and suggested the same surgery if those therapies didn't work. I sought a second opinion, and this new doctor explained that if the PT/ESI didn't work before, I should go back into surgery ASAP. He also agreed that he would do another laminotomy, the same as the initial surgery. 

This was reaffirming, since I thought it was kind of a freak accident that caused the re-herniation. I scheduled the surgery ASAP with my first surgeon, and bypassed the PT/ESI suggestion. After the SECOND surgery, I felt the pain come back as soon as my pain medicine had run out. I tried to just rest and recover because I know that having a nerve pressed for that long will take some time to fully heal. I approached the 6 week post-op mark, still experiencing sciatic pain at the same level as the day the pain meds ran out. 

Recently, I was pumping gas and when I removed the handle from my car I had back spasms that radiated down both legs and I couldn't move for the next few hours. I called my doctor and he got me some steroids to calm the inflammation and that helped me move around a bit more, as well as an MRI. Today I got the results, and it's re-herniated again. 

I don't know what to do. As a 25 year old, I am coming to the full realization that I will be having problems with my back later in life. Any advice on what to do next, so as to minimize major problems down the road? Thanks in advance for anyone who cares enough to read my story.



  • Hi there,

      It totally stinks that you're having these issues at your young age.  I think it's safe to say that herniating the disc three times now, it's not going to stay in place.  The issue is, do you really want to deal with a fusion at such an early age.  My son is 21 and has a similar situation.

      The question you need to ask yourself is how much pain can you tolerate before you decide to do major surgery.  Most fusion procedures are 50/50 or even 60/40 as to if you'll be pain free/reduced after having the procedure.  I would recommend you have a heart to heart talk with your family and surgeon.  It's a huge decision you have to make and not one to take lightly.  If you choose to have surgery, your family will need to support you for a while afterwards.  It is major surgery.  I don't want to scare you, but you need to be fully aware of what recovery will be like.

      Keep your head up and do some research!  Best thing you can do is educate yourself on procedures, recovery times and what to expect afterwards.


    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,357

    hi jfooman
    welcome to spine-health

    you are definitely having a rough time with your disc. to me it seems that you have not done anything out of the normal to cause this. have you asked your surgeon what could cause this to keep happening? also check with him on what exercises you can or should not do. what are your options now that it's re-herniated?

    while you are waiting on other members to reply, please click on the welome link below and the tutorial for more informations on the forum.
    welcome to spine health

    take care and please let us know what's next.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
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  • Maybe platelet-rich plasma injections?

     If I were you and/or was in the same boat I would ask my local doctor if that’s recommended. 

    I personally know an extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy MD only minutes away who swears by PRP and has had many patients with successful outcomes.

    If he didn’t think it would help or if I’m not a good candidate he would say so.

  • Thank you all for the wonderful replies. I appreciate the help and sympathy. This community seems to want to really help each other and I hope that I can pay it forward.

    The first re-herniation was certainly from a cough. I had reservations about the second surgery, since I thought it would happen easily again if it did so the first time. I should have went with my gut. I'm not sure why it happened again, my doctor has told me I have bad luck... Part of me is really regretting getting any surgery in the first place. 

    I see my surgeon tomorrow and will discuss my options. Thanks again for the ideas to bring up with him, and I will continue to do my research! 

  • Good luck tomorrow with the surgeon.

    Please don’t beat yourself up over decisions or procedures that have long since come and gone.

    We always follow what seems the most logical and wise path to take at the time.

    Please keep us posted. Again good luck tomorrow. Hoping for the best possible outcome.

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