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L5/S1 discectomy ongoing pain


Tomorrow will be 3 weeks I had a discectomy on my L5/s1. The first 12 days I had pretty intense pain and thought I had reherniated. (Surgeon did too and had ordered an MRI). Within a few days after that the pain got immensely better and this week has pretty much disappeared except for one weird spot. Just above my ankle. 

Before surgery my sciatic pain was awful for months. It went all the way down my leg into my foot. After surgery that all disappeared in the last two weeks except for this one spot. I started PT yesterday and she was even perplexed. It isn’t getting better but not getting worse just remains at like a pain level of around 4. (Like a really bad toothache).

I guess is should I still remain hopefully my nerves are still healing? I would consider the surgery a major success if it wasn’t for this damn painful spot. I have been diligent doing exactly what my neurosurgeon said to do and now walking quite a bit too. I don’t see him for my follow up for 2 more weeks so not sure. Just wondering if this pain might be permanent as the rest seems to be getting better but this spot. 



  • 20 days is very early. I’m surprised your PT was perplexed given you’re only 20 days post-op. Nerves can take months (not weeks) to heal. 

    I would continue to follow your doctor’s orders.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,521

    You are so fresh out of surgery.  There are bound to be several ups and downs during recovery.  Nerves take a long time to heal  as L4_L5 said its months, not weeks.   With some of my lumbar surgeries, I dealt with nerve pain for about 14 months after surgery before it subsided.

    Take a look at  Recovery, the Most Important Phase

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Thank you very much. My PT said she thought it was weird as it was never really that painful in the spot before and the rest seems to be getting better. She did say today at PT, nerves are a tricky thing and take a long time to recover sometimes. She used a tens unit today on me and it really helped! So I bought one for home. 

    My neurosurgeon made my discectomy sound like it would be no big deal and I was under the assumption I would wake with the pain being gone (which I did) but that was anesthesia. I didn’t realize it might be a long while before everything subsides. Lol. Hoping it will still improve down the road. Even with my pain now it still isn’t as bad as it was before surgery. 

  • NorthernGal1

    As the others have said nerves are tricky and can time to heal, if you are not taking any nerve specific medication it would be worth a call to your surgeon to see if they think it will be necessary, ice packs multiple times daily can also help, they are only temporary but I use them almost daily. As you are finding out patience is the hardest part of spine surgery, hopefully this is just a minor bump in the road and the pain will go away quickly.


    Veritas-Health Moderator

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