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Should I have second surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all I am new to this very informative forum.

Back in Feb 07 I had surgery for herniated discs at the L3-4 and L5-S1 level. Surgery greatly reduced the pain I was experiencing in my right leg and back. I was also diagnosed with Congenital Spinal Stenosis

Well recently the pain has come back and its been excruciating! My right leg hurts and sometimes when I get up my lower back is so stiff and painful. I had an MRI and it reveeals that I have herniations in L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. L5-S1 is bilateral. I have mild and occ. pain in my left leg but nothing like in the right. I saw the neurosurgeon today and he recommended a second surgery but explained that the recovery may be longer since this surgery is more extensive and like always there is no guarantee. He also recommended losing some weight too. The pills dont help.

For the pain in the left side he said if he operates it might make it worst with scar tissue and also a chance of the disc slipping needing fusion but if he doesnt i may need another surgery in the future and that weakens my back even more.

I wanted to get everyones opinion for my options:

1) Wait it out and try to lose some weight and see how much that helps.

2) Go ahead with surgery for both sides

3) Only have surgery for right side



  • Is he recommending discectomy's for these 3 levels, or fusion? Or Are you just considering a discectomy for L5-S1?
    Jan 2009 L5-S1 ALIF
    May 2017 ALIF L4-L5 with PLF rods added L4-L5-S1
  • Hello, and welcome to the board.

    Sorry you are having more problems. I am not quite clear from your post -- I gather that your surgeon is not recommending a fusion at this point? Is he talking about doing discectomies?

    Have you gotten opinions from any other spinal specialists? If not, I would encourage you to do so.

    If you have that many segments affected, I would be a little surprised if losing some weight would make that much difference in your pain level.

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  • thx let me clarify.

    Ya hes recommending discectomies. What kind of spinal specialits are you guys referring to? thx in advance
  • I can only give you my opinion as a surgery "repeat customer" and that is - I would try every conservative treatment prior to surgery. Sometimes it cannot be avoided but sometimes there are other treatments that could be of help (cortisone shots, physical therapy, medications, etc). Personally, this is the path I followed; I ended up getting the spinal fusion, and while I am glad I did, I am also glad I didn't "jump into it" and tried other treatments first. Surgery is very invasive, and while it can potentially relieve your pain, it is no guarantee. It is certainly not a "quick fix."

    It is certainly worth getting a second opinion on treatment options from another surgeon (either orthopedic or neurosurgeon).

    Best of luck to you.
    Jan 2009 L5-S1 ALIF
    May 2017 ALIF L4-L5 with PLF rods added L4-L5-S1
  • I'm 17 days out of a L5/S1 microdiscetomy and although some of my pain is gone (I can sit better, it doesn't hurt to cough, etc.) I have lingering pain in the leg w/ sharp shooting pains into the calve. I've been walking at least 25 minutes, two times per day and last night tried a heating pad prior to sleep. Unfortunately, I woke up today w/ extreme pain (this has not happened until today) and could barely walk. 600 mg of ibuprofen later the pain has subsided a bit.

    The question is: is this normal? To regress...I've had dis problems for many years but it was about a year ago that I apparently herniated the disc. I tried all the therapies known to man but nothing really worke and eventually the pain got worse and worse and finally started interrupting my sleep. In addition, I couldn't sit for more than 2-3 minutes w/out sharp pain.
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  • After 2 previous lamenectomies, there was additional leakage. Had I only had a lamenectomy, I would have healed much faster. The problem is, the doctor told me that there was still enough fluid left in the disc, that I would be looking at a 4th surgery at some point. Then there would have been no fluid left, and I would have been looking at a fusion and disc replacement. So it is really up to you. I know I could not live with the difficulty and pain. The worst was before the 2nd surgery. The pain before my 3rd surgery was not nearly as bad, but I was not willing to wait. The real problem before the second was that I waited an additional week to see how things would progress, and did they ever. I could not bend, cough, turn. I stayed in bed in a ball on might right side for a week. The pain in my right leg was like a constant Charlie Horse. It went from my upper thigh to my toes.

    My wife has had a bulging disk for about 10 years, and recently lost about 60 lbs. She says this has helped more than anything else she has done.
  • Im gonna see another neurosurgeon who specializes in minimaly invasive spine procedures.

    question: Microdiscectomy vs Discectomy? Is one better than the other or more effective?
  • If your stenosis is causing pain .... you may need more than a discectomy. You may need some bone removed such as a laminectomy. If you have a lot of bone removed you may need fusion and hardware.....especially since you carry some extra weight.

    With my surgeries decompressions were done on both sides during both operations.

    Weight loss - you and me both. Always a good idea.

  • Can anyone explain why doctors do more than one discectomy/laminectomy at the same level? It seems like after one laminectomy, they'd move on to a fusion, so the disc doesn't rupture again. And if a disc continues to leak/rupture or whatever, it seems like they should just get the disc outta there.

    Just thinking out loud.

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