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L5-S1 Microdiscectomy now at 5 months - updated

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone - Just wanted to ask you folks if think I am on the right track or not. Here is a copy of my first update at 4 weeks post-op:
The leg pain is 90% gone, with the exception of first thing in the morning and random jolts of pain. Pre-surgery, the pain was in the back of my leg, into the upper calf and sometimes down to my foot. The pain was constant and got worse with movement. The effected leg also was substantially weaker than the other, and also had some numbness and pins and needles.

Since the surgery, the pain has mostly subsided, but the pins and needles has actually gotten worse, and the weakness is still there too. My doc says it can take several weeks for the nerve to recover, but I have also heard of some cases where the symptoms are gone completely after surgery. Is this normal? When should I realistically expect these symptoms to subside? Will they ever?

OK, so here I am at 8 weeks and I am now in physical therapy doing very mild core exercises, but still no bending or real strengthening work yet. I have just finished the 2nd (and possibly last) course of Diclofenac Potassium and from time time time will still pop a hydrocodone (maybe 2-3 times per week mainly at night). My leg pain is mostly gone, but will still flare up from sitting too long or may just radiate down the leg for no apparent reason. My pins and needles is mostly gone and leg strength seems to be coming back too. I am a little concerned that the leg pain I am experiencing is worse than it has been in the last 4 weeks of recovery. Is that normal? I would still expect some back pain, but I figured the leg pain would be gone by now. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks, Tony


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13

Comments

  • Im 7 weeks post-op and i still have leg pain. My NS told me the nerves can take a long time to recover from it all and to be patient. I take Lyrica and Cymbalta and it helps. Takes quite a bit to kick in, but once the meds do I feel a whole lot better. Its hard for me to be patient, but its one day at a time. Good luck to you!
  • On the degree to which your nerve was impinged upon before your surgery. I had a micro last December. Immediately after surgery, the pain in my back was gone, but the pain down my leg persisted for about two months - gradually coming up from almost all the way down my leg to the back of my knee and then just my hip, and then it went away. At six months after surgery, I started having horrible problems again, which is why I'm having a fusion on Wednesday. I hope you have a better outcome than I did.

    Linda

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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  • Thanks for the feedback. The nerve recovery is very frustrating since some days are good and then all of a sudden for no apparent reason, the pain or numbness comes back. Linda, how did you reinjure yourself at 6 months? Sorry to hear that.
  • Hi Tony, Don't get too discouraged your not alone. I had my L5/S1 discectomy on 8-7-08 and I'm still experiencing numbness in my two outer toes and in the ball of my foot. Been doing PT since 6 weeks post-op and things have improved but not to the point I have hoped. Doc says it could take 6 mo - 1 year. I only hope I can one day run and mountain bike without restrictions.

    A little background - I'm 47yo active and fit. I was racing off-road motorcycles and mountain bikes. In December 2007 I fell on an icy driveway resulting in a bulging disc. In July 2008 I ruptured the disc lifting something the wrong way. Doc told me it was "as big of rupture as I've seen in 20 years"....great!

    Stumbled upon this thread looking for folks in a similar situation. I'm remaining patient and diligent in my PT but am getting discouraged at times. Keep in mind you mostly hear about the failures and not the successes.


    Best,
    Mike
  • It can take two years for the nerve to completely heal just from my experience. After my first microD most of the pain went away in about 6 months but I did have lingering calf pain and tightness and pain upon first waking up and foot pain. I got this off and on and I did notice at about a year most of it went away but I still had foot numbness. In two years time all of my symptoms went away completely.

    Now my second microD on the same disc I'm at about 6 months and most of the time I am pain free but do get minor twinges now and then and my calf is tight upon first getting up. Just from my experience last time and the progress I am making that is just like last time it does take quite a while for the nerve to completely recover. So if after say 6 months you still have minor symptoms don't worry too much that doesn't mean it's not going to to away. Give it more like a year.

    What caused me to have to have surgery again and my disc to reherniate you are thinking. I had abdominal surgery and they dropped me upon lifting me from one bed to another that contributed to it and I also was yanking on something really super hard to the point it was like lifting something really heavy since I had to pull so hard. Just be careful about lifting always.
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  • I hear ya Mike. I can't wait to get back to my active lifestyle. I know I won't have a free pass to do whatever I want, but If I could run, exercise and play some recreational hockey, I will ask for nothing else! Its amazing how you could ride offroad motorcycles and mountain bikes, but have the biggest trouble in the driveway. I have heard so many stories like that. And Mchell6789 - I hope you had a good lawyer after that hospital bed drop! That is some rough luck. I hope you're doing better. Thanks for the input you guys.
  • I think that removing just that one little piece of disc cause my others to settle into a new painful position. I have three torn discs (torn left to right, clear through). They took out a piece that was pressing on my sciatic nerve and I felt good, was walking 5 miles a day, but my right leg began to buckle out from under me as I walked. Then it got painful -- jolts of horrible pain. Further tests show I have more disc ooze starting to affect other nerves, so they're going to clean it all out and put some spacers in there and get it all to fuse together. I'm terribley nervous, but looking forward to some eventual relief.

    Linda

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • My PT has told me that you can expect healing up to 2-4 years after the compression is relieved. For the sciatic nerve (longest in the body), it takes a long time to heal.

    Her philosophy is "if you aren't getting worse, you are getting better" (since the healing can be subtle, but still occurring slowly.

    In my case, I wasn't properly diagnosed for a long time, and so I may end up with some degree of permanent numbness if my foot (but I guess I'll know better a couple years from now). I had a micro-d in May, and like you most of the leg numbness is gone. It took many months for the pain in the lower back (surgery site) to subside, but that has gotten much better. I still have some foot pain and numbness, but I attribute that to the long time my nerve was squashed.

    Best wishes on your healing. Hope you have a successful outcome!
  • Just an update for those who care. I'm finished with physical therapy and back to working out at the gym with some alyptical (sp?) cardio, light weights and core strengthening. I also started skating again and playing around with the hockey puck. I'm not skating too hard and I'm just working on my passing and stick handling, no shooting. My doc says I should be able to play again at 6 months, but I'm going to give more time than that. (its not like I'm getting paid to play).

    I still have some nerve healing issues, and I think its good actually. Otherwise, I would have no pain or discomfort and probably overdo it. My leg still feels a little "heavier" and has some unexplained pains from time to time. Its also still a touch weaker than my unaffected leg. I can sit through a 2 hour movie, no problem, but I try to get up at the halfway point just to stretch and walk for a minute. I havn't seen anything that good lately to prevent me from taking a break, so it works out just fine.

    I am off all meds, but still take some ibuprofin as needed. All in all, I'm pretty happy with my progress. Just wanted to keep everone posted.
  • Hi Tony,

    I think your going to turn out OK. The L5-S1 recieves less shearing force than the L4-5. Keeping active is key. I walk alot, but being an active big guy, my surgical area gets annoyed and has kicked of some siatic pain from time to time. I drive for a living. In the morning, I have all my sensations back in the foot and leg. After a days work, sometimes my foot feels like there is pressure on top and the thigh siatic burns a little. I guess I'm still heqling too. I'm 4.5 months out of surgery and hope everything heals up like everyone else. But, sometimes it drives me crazy having this stuff come and go. As per your healing, are you a young or older guy.

    Backman38
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