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Recovery after Micro Discectomy



  • Following painful sciatica, I had a L4/5 microdisectomy on 17th. Oct. 2009, two days after suffering foot drop. The operation was successful in that the knee and hip pain has almost disappeared. Perhaps if I had had the op two days earlier, I would not have sustained the foot drop. Stubbornback's post is helpful on this score but I was warned of this an hour before surgery (not the frame of mind you need at this stage). Staples(stitches) are coming out tomorrow and physio starts Wednesday. I am self employed and would love to get back behind the wheel, digging and working (in that order). Best wishes to all
  • Hi, Similar circumstances to you. Im 35 zero back pain til December 2008 then by January 2009 L5 S1 herniation. I finally had my microdiscectomy on 7th August 2009 so I'm just over 13 weeks post op. I now have almost zero sciatica nothing below the leg just the odd nerve twinge in the left buttock.

    I have started some PT and rehab back strengthening excercises but have loads of lower back pain, which is something I didn't have too much of prior to the operation. Does anyone else have lower back pain. My doctor says its because the whole muscle structure in my spine changed while I was unable to bend etc while the sciatica was bad. Can anyone else advise on their experiences of what I would describe as just general back ache after the microdisc op. I was so happy when the sciatica went that was very painful. However the new general back pain is an almost permanent ache that is really draining and depressing, Better than sciatica but not good.

    Just thought I'd add that Ive read this post since my op and its been very inspiring but my first post to-date
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  • I had upper back pain that I didn't experience prior to my microdiscectomies. My doctor said losing part of your disc can misaligned your spinal structural. Great! A new problem.

    Well....I thought the back pain was from my poor posture when I was holding myself in odd positions when I was dealing with the pain.

    Eventually muscle pain went away.
  • Hello to Barrelman - On the question of new pain, I would imagine that the operation itself, damages or bruises the surrounding muscles etc. I plucked up the courage to watch some You Tube videos of the operation (post my op) which may explain. It would appear that there was an extended delay between January and August, which may have contributed to your pain. Why the delay?

    My minor pains have virtually gone, but I am concerned that the way I am forced to walk may cause ongoing problems. Hopefully, P.T. will overcome this.


  • In May/June of 2009 I realized that my entire right side was numb from my arm pit to my toes. The numbness stopped at my spinal chord. In August 2009 the Neurologist confirmed a severe herniated disc at C6-C7. Because of my symptoms I needed to have the herniated removed at once. My surgery was scheduled for the end of August. Upon awakening I felt immediate relief. I did not know how bad I felt until I felt good.

    It is almost 3 months post surgery and my recovery is going very well. I am in physical therapy now and it is quite physical. My range of motion is ever increasing weekly. Because the herniation can affect your bicep muscle, strengthening it is ongoing. I can not raise my left arm above my head for very long - doing my hair is a challenge every morning.

    Having this surgery has returned my quality of life.

    Hang in there and know God is able to heal!
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  • I had my microdiscectomy about 8 hours ago. From what I can tell right now, I am not having the sciatic pain or the pain that felt like I had a broken tailbone. It seems as though the pain is only surgery related at this point. I may have a little more bleeding than expected, so kind of keeping an eye on that. Can't get comfortable but want to sleep. I am moving a lot, walking, up and down the stairs so trying to do what I've been reading. Thanks for having this column, it's been very helpful!
  • Rcarmi....glad you are doing well.
    I say follow doctors orders for the full 6 weeks to 3 months. The biggest problem is that folks start feeling better after 2 weeks and push to do too much.

    If you keep to the basics - no bending, twisting, lifting. And walk and rest and don't sit for more than 10 mins...I bet you'll continue to do well!

  • I had a microdiscectomy on L5 S1 on June 17, 2010. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories. It has made be feel so much better knowing that what I am feeling is similar to others. The injury occurred on 12/31/09. In January I went to my doctor and he insisted that an MRI was not necessary because I am a young (33) healthy female and I probably had a pulled hamstring. I assured him that the pain I was feeling could not possibly be a result of a pulled muscle. Side note, at the time I had an HMO. I went through months of unsuccessful PT and he still would not order an MRI. In May, I switched to a PPO, immediately had an MRI and found out that I had a 11x14mm bulging disc with severe nerve impingement. I also found out that my former PCP was had been in a contentious contract dispute with my insurance at the time of my initial visit and had recently been dropped by them.

    Anyway, after the surgery I felt immediate relief. It was too good to be true. For the first time in 6 months I did not have nerve pain in my left leg. Then, last night I couldn't sleep. I am still on pain meds, but the pain kept me awake. I will say that it is not the same pain that I had pre-surgery. This is more like am intermittent dull ache down my left leg as opposed to pins and needles.

    I know I am very early into my recovery, but is this typical? I am on medical leave for at least 6-8 weeks and I am also curious to know how long it took for people to return to work. Obviously I know it is different for everyone.
  • Since you are only 10 days after your microdiscectomy, it is too early to tell. From what I read here on this forum, your surgeon puts some kind of steroid to calm the nerves. Therefore, the first week or so, you feel immediate relief after the surgery. Then, the steroid wears off. I took some oral steroids after the surgeries to calm my pain.

    In my case, I also felt immediate relief from the sciatic pain for about 10 days. Later, I had intermittent and transient pain in both legs (prior to surgery I only had pain on my right leg.) I also experienced some upper back pain, which went away.

    As far as my pain level, I took enough pain meds that allowed to me to sleep. I suggest you call your doctor to see if he/she can adjust your dosage or try something different.

    So it has been over a year since my two microdiscectomies. I had a revision surgery because I reherniated my disc at L5S1. So far, I still feel minor sciatic pain, which can be managed by over the counter pain meds. I can't say the surgeries were 100% successful, but I have my life back. Would I have the surgeries again? Yes, I would.
  • I returned to work in 3 months post MD last year. But it has been a roller coaster ride because I wanted to do too much, too soon. I still have sciatic pain and numbness which gets worse, then better. Still taking Lyrica & Ultram but at least no narcs until recently.
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