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HELP!! Pain after discectomy?!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone - I'm a newbie to the site and am desparate for any feedback or help members can offer.

I had an emergency discectomy (L5/S1) in June 08 after having to call an ambulance to get me up off the floor. I had my first taste of back pain in 06 and took steroids orally for several weeks. The pain stopped - so I decided against surgery. But, since then I've had my first little one and when the pain reappeared (and so aggressively), I opted for the surgery in hopes of getting back to normal life and also because I simply couldn't walk at all. I hope this was reason enough to opt for the procedure.

The surgery took about 2 hrs. My leg/back pain was gone immediately after the procedure. I was released from the hospital after one day. I went home and took it easy. I did some light back exercises, but nothing too much.

I am now eager to get back to work. But, the pain is COMING BACK!! It's not nearly as bad as before. It has been a little over 3 months since the surgery and I am feeling a tightness in my back. I had returned to life as normal with my 15 lb baby (which included carrying her, carseats, strollers, etc.). I think I messed something up.

My questions:
1. Has anyone every experienced a flare-up after a discectomy?
2. Have I reherniated the disc?
3. Will things ever be back to normal?!?!

I'm sorry this is so long - but I figure the more info the better advise I'll recieve. Please help - any and all advice/support is appreciated as I am extremely worried (which I don't think helps my back) :S .


  • Many of us have exactly the same story. The best I can suggest is to revisit your surgeon and have him evaluate you again.

    I hope it is only a matter of you overdoing it.

    Best Wishes,
  • Hi there,

    I had my microD done in Jan08 at L4L5 and had to get back to being a full time Mum to my 2 little ones as quick as possible. I know I was constantly pushing myself to manage things I probably shouldn't, like getting the double pram in and out of the house or lifting them in/out of their car seats.

    I had a flare up a few months after the op but the pain was down the other side. I was really worried and went to see the surgeon, his recommendation was to wait 3 months (unless the pain became intolerable) and to see what the story was then. He was hopeful that even if I had reherniated it would self cure as it does in around 80% of cases within a 3-6 month period.

    My physio guy was also encouraging and said to treat it as a set back rather than start to panic that I was sliding down into the severity of the old problem. I continued with my pilates (gently) as I found it great for pain relief and thankfully over the next few months the pain eased off.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions, I am happy to reply on the boards or you can PM me if you prefer.

    Take care

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  • Pain's still there. Never went away. So not the same exact experience... But I was told it could have been scar tissue. Well, my Physical therapist told me that, and my Nuerosurgeon's assistant. It could be over extending yourself. Call your surgeon and ask about Aquatic therapy. (Warm pool) could be a big help.
  • Cheeka - thank you so much for responding and mostly for sharing your personal story. I don't know anyone who has had this procedure, so I am doing a lot of internet searching and guessing...which leads to LOTSA worrying!!

    It's good to hear that this doesn't HAVE to be a reherniation. Another surgery is what I'm most concerned about and a return of that extraordinary pain. My surgeon asked that I take a NAID (I'm taking Motrin) every 6 hrs and rest for a week. He wants me to reschedule an appt in 3 to 4 wks.

    Did you take an OTC anti-immflamatory? Did you apply heat/ice to the area? Any other suggestions for things you did in your "rest"? Did your post-op pain allow you to move around? (b/c I can walk the pain away - but it's the worst when I'm sitting down, which the Dr. said is normal)

    Thx in advance!!
  • I only took anti inflammatories for a couple of days straight after the op and was off pain meds pretty quick as I was still breastfeeding my baby.

    As for other things that worked for me, I would really have to say pilates. Not sure if you are familiar with it as an exercise programme but it is gentle stretches to increase your range of motion and to strengthen your core muscles. I started really slow and only with the backing of my Doc and physio guy. Over a few weeks of sessions 3 times a week I felt stronger and better aligned posturally. This might not be appropriate for you at the moment as obviously you dont want to start something new that might make things worse.

    I did use a TENS machine for pain relief which I always found beneficial. It doesn't take the pain away but it does distract from its severity.

    I used heat (I hate using ice!) which provided some relief. I think keeping busy with the little ones really helped too in a weird sort of way as it gave me something to focus on rather than worrying about my back all the time.

    This site has been great as you get to hear loads of different stories and you can ask questions, rather than reading medical article on the net that makes thing sound scarier.

    Good luck getting your week's rest, how old is your baby?


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  • My little one is 7 mo/15 lbs. I am trying not to lift her too much, but I have to lift her sometimes as I am the only one home with her most of the time.

    I have never heard of TENS, what is that? I have heard of pilates and have even done it in the past. I was considering that or yoga once I'm better - now leaning towards pilates (thx!).

    I've been applying the ice, so I'll try the heat. Was sitting down a problem for you? It wasn't before I started to feel the pain again, but now i can't sit for long periods of time. I sure hope I haven't reherniated it.

    (still worrying, can you tell??) :<
  • Why do some docs do fusions and others disc.? Curious. Isn't a fusion permanent vs other surgeries.
  • For me sitting was always OK, I am in the small portion of people who for some reason lying down was by far the worst postion to be in, which made getting any sleep pretty hard!

    I know you will worry, but try to stay positive, you are doing everything you can to get a good result and if you have reherniated I think you will still be in with another shot at a microD rather than a more major op.

    As for TENS, it is hard to describe but it is a small unit that you clip to your belt and attach a couple of pads to the area where you get pain and it sends electrical impulses which confuse the nerves. It doesn't hurt to use, it feels more of a tingle than a shock. Some women use them in labour to help with the early contractions. In the UK you can buy a TENS machine from the chemist (pharmacy?) and they are around 30-40 pounds.

    Hang in there, it might come good over the next few days.

  • First off welcome to Spine Health.

    As far as having flare ups, well when I had my first one the neurosurgeon told me that I would always get them, that it's just the "nature of the beast" with any kind of spine surgery or injury. The key to it being prevention.

    He could not stress enough how important it is to keep the body's core stretched and strengthened in order to support the spine and reduce the number of flare ups.

    You said that you did some light exercises. Were these ones recommended by the doc or PT? Did your flare up come once you stopped these exercises? If your core muscles are strong, then picking up a 15 lb baby shouldn't be a problem. Also make sure you are using proper body mechanics when lifting your baby.

    Bottom line though is to discuss it with your doc and see what he thinks.

    Hang in there,

  • AFA reherniation.....
    I understood that the disc's outer covering called the "anulus" is like a fibered tire donut kinda sorta thing.
    When the inner material "polpulsus" (or however it's spelled)pushes thru the fibers it creates an opening.
    The opening is closed by scar tissue(once the protrusion is removed or re-absorbs back in).
    Scar tissue is not as strong or pliable as the orginal anulus fiber.

    I figure if the anulus fiber wasn't strong enough in the first place, and scar tissue is not as strong, I need to really reduce the amount of weight I pick up.
    Not the most equitable trade-off, but what can we do?
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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