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L4, L5-S1 Herniation & Discectomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone!

This is my first post! I'm excited to be part of the site.

Here's my story....
I have been suffering with lower back pain since April.
It started as an ache in my lower back. I went to the chiro and received infrared therapy and an adjustment. The pain never went away it just became more manageable. Fast forward to July and I was in agonizing pain. I had pain in my lower back, in bum, down my right leg and into my foot. I couldn't even stand straight - I had to walk hunched over. I could walk a short distance (less than 10 steps) and had to stop for a breath. What a sight I'm sure! =))
I went to my PCP who sent me for an x-ray. X-ray came back showing nothing wrong. That night I ended up in the ER because the pain was so bad. They gave me a shot of Demerol and sent me home. (I live in a very rural area - it's over an hr to the nearest hospital with a MRI machine).
Within 3 days I was back in the ER for another shot of Demerol. It took my PCP 3 wks to get me in for an MRI.
In the meantime, I was given Vicodin ES, Flexeril, Soma and MMedrol. I finally had my MRI and it shows herniated L4,L5, S1. PCP sent me to PT. After 3 wks of PT they told me they couldn't really help me and suggested I see a Neurosurgeon. Another 5 wks passed until I could get into a Neurosurgeon. Neuro did a thorough exam and suggested surgery. :O I guess I knew that this wasn't a passing kind of back pain but I wasn't expecting surgery. I made my own appt at a pain mgmt clinic (for shots)- they also suggested surgery. I have an appt at an Orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. If he suggests surgery I will proceed with scheduling surgery. Back surgery is scary and worrisome. I just want to make sure I am making the correct decision. :SS

How many referrals did you get before going ahead with surgery? How long was your recovery (before you could return to work)? Any helpful tips for things to consider having on hand to make recovery smoother?

Thanks everyone for your help!



  • I just read your history. Mine is a little longer, my back has been bothering me for about four years. I have a herniated disc, spinal stenosis and need a fusion. I have seen three neurosurgeons in the hope that one of them would tell me that I did not need surgery. The last doc told me to give up and quit going to doctors, the diagnosis was not going to change. I don't want to have surgery either, unfortunately I have my mother's back, she had a fusion. Good luck, going to see many doctors really does not make you feel any better about the surgery.
  • Welcome to the site! Plenty of great people with every kind of story you can imagine. :))(

    I personally only had 1 referral from a neurosurgeon, just because of the fact I had been seeing him for 7 years before my back was to the point I lost complete feeling in my right leg. I do remember that my Dr. stated (approximately, been 7 years since the first "talk") to give my back about 6 months to see if the pain other problems went away. They did, and then off and on for the next 6 years they would flare up everyonce in awhile and back to the Dr for more PT etc..

    I had a laminectomy and discectomy at l4/l5 & l5/s1, on July 11 2008. Started PT on July 18th, and was back to work (a desk job) by the second week of August.

    If you look at the top of the page here, there is a great sticky page that has a lot of great tips on pre and post surgery.

    Good luck and God bless,

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  • I had a very similar back history to you except my herniation was at L4L5. I had the op the day after seeing my NS for the first time as I was completely out of options and couldn't live with the pain anymore. I hadn't had any pain meds as I was nursing my baby so for me having the op was an easy decision to make.

    The NS said that 80-90% of ruptures self heal within 3-6 months and that if I hadn't seen any improvement over that time frame (it was 6 and a half months since the original injury that I saw him) then the op was the best way as it might take years to heal itself and I could be left with permanent nerve damage.

    I am happy to say the discectomy was a 100% success and I am amazed with how good my back now feels 8 months on. There have been a few bumps in the road along the way, some pretty bad pain in my good leg and the odd time that I have really over done things (not hard being full time mum to a baby and a toddler) and paid for it the next day.

    However, the op has completely saved me from a life of crooked walking and severe pain, so compared to that the recovery was fine.

    I hope you decide what course of action to take soon, in someways I am glad my surgery was over before I had time to reflect on it, I think worrying beforehand is sometimes the worse part of it!

    Glad you've found the site, its a great place to find answers and support.

    Take care

  • Hi,

    I had an emergency microdiscectomy with laminectomy on 09-24-08. I had a very large rupture at l5 s1 with mass impact on the s1 nerve root sleve.

    It started out back in april with what I thought was pulled hamstring. It progressivly got worse as the months went on. I suffered in agony for months. I was on everything from percocet, aleve, ibuprofen, vicodin and dilaudid for months. It controlled the pain, it took the edge off. I saw chiroprctor, I did physical therapy, I had 3 epidural steroid injections and one nerve root block, none worked.

    I'm the mother of two boys ages 1 and 2, it was hard to find time to rest. I was a complete and total bit@h to everyone around me, I was suffering and so were they. 3 days after my last injection (on 9-19-08) the rupture became larger, MD says I strained on the commode, but that was impossible since I was so constipated from all of the opiates I had given up trying to have bowel movements weeks ago. The pain was uncontrolled and unbareable, I was seriously contemplating suicide, nothing worked not even morphine and oxycontin. I couldnt feel my left leg or groin area. I screamed and cried for days, my kids were terrified.

    After several visits to the emergency room screaming in agony. I was admitted to the hospital where they pumped me every two hours with 4mg dilaudid and I was still in pain. I had surgery within 24 hous after my admit.

    I woke up from the anesthesia and I could feel my leg and it felt so good!! I'm 2 days post op, very sore in the back but no leg pain and no need for any pain meds! I still have numbness in my left foot but that is fine with me. I am taking every percaution not to twist bend or strain. I'm walking slowly and feeling great. I did everything by the book, very conserviative treatment and ended up in surgey anway. I'm so glad I did.

    Good luck with what ever decision you make, I hope you feel better.
  • I am sooooooo sorry to hear of your situation, its sounds like you have been through hell! It's great to hear you are on the other side of the op and it seems to have been a success. I wish you all the best for your recovery, I know how hard it is with little ones not to over do it, so be careful but enjoy your new leg pain free life!

    Take care

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  • I had done all the non-surgical therapies to no avail that it was down to finding the right surgery for my case.
    I too was hunched over, unable to straighten up, massive pain standing or walking.

    I consulted with 8 different surgeons in 8 different cities throughout California and Arizona. So as not to influence in any way, I did not tell any of them the opinion of the other surgeons.

    Recovery on the 1st surgery was about 3 weeks.

    How did your consult go?

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • My serious issues started in July

    I did 9 weeks of PT

    had 3 ESI with little success, after that

    went straight to the best surgeon in town

    had surgery only one week later(which was two days ago) ~laminotomy/discectomy L5-S1

    woke up from surgery feeling no pain in my leg at all, just some numbness in the bottom of my foot, and of course incision pain that I would trade for any day.

    not just happy about my pain relief, I'm totally elated. I wanted to shout out to the world "I'm pain free!" I must have made 20 phone calls right after surgery to spread the great news.

    I've commited myself to proper body mechanics and following doctors orders. I want this "feel good" to last forever
  • Hi all! I had a microdiscetomy L4S-L5S1 and, A dropped left foot the never down my leg was real bad. I had that surgery done by a neuro-surgeon and, made a great. I wish you lots of luck and, surgery was my only option and, i don't regret it. I even got back into bowling with some great sucess. I know surgery can be scary but, if you have a very good surgeon and with how great sucess some have had with this type of procedure it can be worth the risk.

    Again I wish you the best and, I hope you are pain free very soon.

  • Hi Everyone!
    My consult on Friday went as expected. The dr recommended surgery. I chose to go with the first NS I saw. The dr I saw on Friday accepts my ins but the hospital he is affliated with does not. I called and scheduled my surgery for Dec 18th. I could have had my surgery as early as Oct 8th but due to work obligations I couldn't do it until Dec.

    Thanks everyone for all the great advice. =D>

  • Good luck with your surgury in december....
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