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Post Discectomy sciatic nerve pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,553
I finally caved and had back surgery on 29 Jan. 2009. I had a double discectomy L4/L5 and L5/S1. A month and a half after the surgery I was having more sciatic pain than I did pre-surgery. Post surgical MRI showed additional herniation of the L4/L5 my surgeon does not agree with the MRI report and claims what is seen is mainly scar tissue (possibly some disc material -- but not re-herniation). I have had steriod injections into the L/4 and L5 and the L/5 S/1. Most recently I have had a nerve root block of the S/1. I am miserable and can't walk any real distance and have not returned to work full-time since. Going weeks between different proceedures is NOT helping my situation. I'm a 48 year old male and otherwise healthy. I'm (I was) a runner and have not been able to run since Dec. 09. Has anyone else had these results post surgery? I need to get back to normal life and don't know if I should press for another surgical proceedure. Thanks


  • Yes, very similar. I am a 42 year old male. Healthy, and also a runner. Had a very large L5 - S1 herniation exactly a year ago. Tried PT, which made it much worse much faster. Pain level about a 9. Got the ESI's, total of four of them. They helped quite a bit for a few months and got the pain level down to about a 3. But that was as good as it got and then it started to creep back up again. They said that it would be bad to continue to get more shots and recommended a microdiscectomy. I had a Mylogram first which confirmed this. Had the surgury on October 15th, 2008. Pretty easy surgery. I was walking 2-3 miles per day (exactly as they instructed) starting the after the surgery. About 80% of the hip, hamstring, and calf pain was gone immediately. The sleeping/numb/needles in the foot were gone too. Exactly 6 weeks later the hip and calf pain came back pretty bad almost overnight, to about a 5 level. I was terrified that it had re-ruptured and pushed for a new MRI. My surgeon told me that it was not re-ruptured but quite a bit of scar tissue had formed. He gave me a selective nerve root block on the S1 nerve the next day. This was very, very unpleasant, but a few days later my pain was back down to a 2. It has now been 75 days since the selective nerve root block and my pain level might be around 1.5 or so. I am walking an hour a day and doing a little eliptical. I had another appointment with my surgeon yesterday and he said that I could start light jogging again since it has been 6 months since the surgery. I am still afraid but hoping for the best. My surgeon says that scar tissue schrinks pretty easily with a cortizone/steriod shot and will stop growing eventually. I am starting to beleive that the more active I am the less the scar tissue can adhere to and press on the S1 nerve. Good luck.
  • Welcome!

    I understand your frustration because I had pain after my first microdiscectomy. And like you, I had another MRI with contrast (meaning dye) this time to get better images of the disc. My herniation was at L5S1.

    Unfortunately, the MRI with contrast showed re-herniation and I proceeded with the 2nd surgery. It has been a little over two weeks since the last surgery, and I feel great. I don't think I'll run again because the high-impact exercise really tip the scale for the worse on the bad disc.

    I have heard that scar tissue can cause pain if they are pressing on your nerve. I would get a second opinion before getting the 2nd surgery. You'll have to request for your medical records in order to see a different doctor(s).

    Good luck!
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  • Many people have had the same results after a spinal surgery, unfortunately.

    I also would get at least one other opinion from a specialist in a different, unassociated practice. The problem with scar tissue is that a second surgery will produce even more scar tissue, and will not necessarily take care of the pain. You can learn about it here:


    The symptoms of epidural fibrosis are almost identical to that of a herniated disk or stenosis, and at the moment, very little can be done for it. I am currently looking for answers for just this problem...and at this point, there aren't any.

    You are still early in your recovery. What did your doctor say about the results from your nerve block and ESIs?
  • Hi, I'm a long distance runner who had a large herniation at the L3-L4 region. I don't know exactly what I did to have the injury. I started with bilateral hip pain, then the pain became terrible down my right leg (groin, hip, and thigh). This started Feb. 10, 2009 and after failed conservative treatment I had a MITRE with hemilaminotomy on L3-L4 and partial L4-L5 on Mar. 25, 2009. The op went great and I was on my feet the next morning. I have been walking 2-3 miles a day and trying to be careful but now my left side is showing signs of radiculopathy! I have been advised to give up thinking about running anymore and that absolutley kills me. I have finished 2 marathons and can't stand the thought of not trying another- but now the pain is coming back and I'm wondering am I ever going to be able to carry on a 'normal' life again, much less running ever again. My next appt. is Friday so I'll guess we'll see what my doc says. Disc Herniations SUCK!!! Good luck to all...
  • I know how you feel about giving up running...I used to be very physically active (weight training) and I ran pre-surgery (not marathons like you did though :D) and I've decided I'm not going to run anymore. I morned it at first, and every now & again I'll talk to my runner friends & it makes me crave it again, but I would rather just be a walker & have a decent quality of life than to go through all this pain & suffering again. I just can't do that to myself or my family.

    I hope your Dr can give you good advice at your appointment. It's so hard to try to adapt to this new lifestyle....best wishes!
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  • Disc herniations do SUCK!!! Completely, totally and without a doubt. Oh well, off to walk, but not to kayak, shoot!
  • I had L5/S1 disc removal and fusion Nov 08. Here I am over a year later and still have, basically, as much pain as ever, probably worse. I've had several nerve blocks with high freq ablation..still no luck. I was up to between 8 and 10 (10/325) Percocets per day. I’m now under the care of a long term, pain management Dr. He put me on fentnyl patches and now take only 2-3 Percocets per day. I feel like they've given up on me...I though the object was to solve the problem so the pain would go away so I would not have to be taking all these pain meds...my family is sick and tired of me being in a perco cloud or in so much pain I can’t hold my daughter....
  • You might want to post your question in a new thread. That way more people will see it, and will see that you are a new member. You might want to put it on the Back Surgery and Neck Surgery section as many people can relate to what you are experiencing.

    You'll notice that the post before your question was written in May...so not too many people are looking at this thread any longer....
  • I am a 17 year old male, and I had a microdiscectomy on my L5 S1. It has been 11 days now since surgery and still have extreme leg pain. Previous to my surgery, I had been dealing with it for an entire year after 2 epidurals and PT did nothing for me. I felt like giving up because I could barely make it until the end of day. Before I was injured I was a good baseball and football player, and now it's my senior year with no sports at all. I am just scared that if this leg pain does not go away that I may never have my life back.
  • Hi tooyoungforthis. I am sorry that you too did not get the relief that was expected. When MDs work, they generally work from day one or are good for a while then have a reherniation.

    I suggest that you record your pain in a pain journal. Discuss all your symptoms and show the journal to your surgeon. Ask what is causing the pain. The journal will explain where pain is, what it feels like (tingles, burning, aching, stabbing, etc), pain rating, what you were doing before hand, what medications you were on, etc. so surgeon can see its real and circumstances around the initiating.

    There are numerous posts with more comments on exactly this scenario. Use search function.

    I believe that there is statistic of about 14% of low BMI patients that have a MD re herniate within the first three months of the MD.

    You may wish to "create a forum post", so you don't get lost in this old thread and make a thread/post unique to you and your problem.

    Another thought, - is this the same pre surgery sciatic pain or is this the 'normal' post surgery nerve regeneration pain? I guess that should be established first.

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