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New - would appreciate advice on micro discectomy

ossieoossie Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:59 AM in New Member Introductions

I suffered a prolapsed disc at L5/S1 in 2008 then a further much larger herniation (10mm) of the same disc in July last year.

Both resulted in acute sciatica and many months off work on both occasions.

My sciatica is now under control after months of physio but I suffer deep back pain usually when sleeping and first thing in the morning. I am feeling I am slowly getting there but as before also feel I will never quite make it.

I am booked in for a microdiscectomy in 10 days time. The surgeon has been quite blunt stating the herniation will never go away. I appreciate it may never go away but it has obviously pulled back from the sciatic nerve!

My point is that I am very worried about the intrusive nature of surgery and the complications it may bring. Should I opt out and continue on this slow road to recovery without surgery?

If I dont have the operation will I still be at extreme risk of a flare up again...or should I have the operation and just get it over and done with!

Any advice appreciated


  • I can only speak from my own experience - I also suffered sciatica but was not helped with physio or any other type of treatment. I had a micro disectomy in January 2008 - I thought I would wake up with surgery pain but I thought the nerve pain would be gone - no such luck. The surgeon said to be patient as the nerve was badly damaged. Fast forward 6 months, I am still suffering sciatic pain and now they do a new MRI and find out the disc was herniated again - I had a spinal fusion in January 2009 - Again I still had the leg pain and it has never gone away. My surgeon says it is because of scar tissue that I am still having leg pain, he said there was nothing more he could do to help me. I got a second opinion and that surgeon thinks I need to have the hardware removed.
    If I had it to do over I would not have had the fusion and I would have considered laser surgery.
    I would say if you are getting better to keep doing what you are doing and don't risk further complications.
    Have you considered laser surgery?
    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  • I ruptured a disc in 2009 (it was bad and I ended up in the ER). I had a Microdiscectomy within 10 days of that incident and while I had a 2nd opinion and am still sure it was the right decision, I got no relief. In fact at the 2-week mark, I was worse.

    Anyhow, I found out that I had re-herniated more material since the initial rupture and disc loss. They said it is likely it came out shortly after the surgery.

    I took my time with the 2nd opinion (I got several) - do nothing, revision micro-discectomy, or fusion.
    Doing nothing wasn't working. Fusion had far too many risks and I felt that if I didn't at least try the revision, I'd be upset if something went wrong with the fusion.

    I had the revision MD in 2010.

    Here's what I learned:
    - Micro discectomy will more likely help leg pain. IF it helps back pain, that's just a bonus. The reason the revision was suggested is b/c my leg pain was horrendous.

    Now, I'm 2 years out of the revision and about 6 months ago, I developed extremely severe lower back pain in the middle of the night and can barely stand in the morning.

    I just started going to a Physiatrist (doctor of muscular/skeletal system) and am getting very specialized PT. They said that after the surgery I must have done such a good job of protecting my back that I have no mobility in my lower back which is why I'm having problems at night.

    I've been to 3 appointments so it's too early to tell but I'm optimistic that they will help.

    It's really a personal decision but surgery is a slippery slope. If I wasn't at risk of losing bladdar/bowel control, I would have tried a Physiatrist before trying surgery.

    Good luck.
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  • Many thanks for your replies.

    If it wasn't for the acute back pain, stiffness and inability to bend for any period of time I would cancel the operation. The sciatica after both herniations was appallingly painful, I lost the whole of last summer being drugged up and the same in 2008. I dread the same happening again.

    My hope is that this operation will help with the back pain and decrease my chance of the current herniation impacting my sciatic nerve again - to put it simply I want the surgeon to go in and 'sort things out'!

    Is it really that simple - a miracle cure- a procedure that will cure my back? I guess not having researched it.

    I am keen sportsman, running, cycling and golf - this has all stopped, firstly due to the pain at the time secondly now that the pain isnt so acute - the fear of reoccurance and knowing I have this very large herniation just waiting to floor me again.

    I am also under pressure from my employer to sort this out one way or the other!

    The NHS in the UK play a long waiting game with you. In my mind there is no doubt I was a candidate for surgery 7 months ago- but I am not 100% sure now.

    I have a pre- op next week before the operation where I will see a physio and will discuss the pro's and cons in depth.
  • Micro D is the least invasive surgery and i think many recover prety fast , If thats the only issue then soon as the disc is off the nerve you should start seeing improvement,

    If its a good dr then in and out and recovery time and with some luck no more worry,

    Best of luck to ya,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Hey Ossie-

    One thing I would say is to only do it if you can't stand it any more. My surgeon said he reccomends it to those "who grab him by the shirt and say you have got to help me".

    I was in that spot when I did it, and I have to say that it was great. My only regret is that I went back to golfing (with his consent) and reinjured it. I had a high swing speed, which caused the problem in the first place. No more running or golfing for me, although I do a lot of Mtn Biking, with no problems (people laugh when I tell them I gave up golf for this less dangerous sport).

    Good luck to you, and if you are desperate, then it can only help.
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  • Thanks for your posts, I really do value them

    UsedToGolf I am sorry to see that you have given up golfing. Golf was a major part of my life until both herniations however golf, plus my cycling is a major reason for me to beat this I guess.

    alexhurting -a very positive post thank you, I really do hope it is that simple.

    I think I have my head around things now.

    Can there be any other condition where surgery is so feared?

    I guess there are two types of patient. The first in the terrible sciatic pain phase who is lucky enough to get surgery quickly or the second like me who suffers for years and has tried everything.

    If it doesnt work then I have given it a go.

    Next Monday I am in theatre.

  • tends to have very good results so providing your consultant is A1 and you know what your limitations will be post op .then maybe you should have it ..i had the old style open discectomy many years ago and have just had major surgey ALIF 2 level fusion .THE micro d is normally fairly easy to recover from BUT also many people hurt them self again because they are no longer in pain .remember back surgey or any type is major and should only be a last resort .if you can do stuff like work/shop /drive/enjoy sex and have some social life ..maybe now is not the time .but if you are sat on a recliner popping pills and watching tv and not being able to sleep then i know what i would do ! think about it
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • cheers Tony

    Interesting post. Yes I can drive,shop a bit of social life etc but work in the emergency services here in the UK and have been on light duties for 3 years. I have also given up running and golf but can still cycle.

    The job will get rid of me unless I make every attempt to resolve the issue. I would also like to hit a golf ball without doubling up on the follow through in pain.

    However : if I was to be sedentary and be happy with what you suggest then I would have made no attempt to resolve the issue. I have been through the no sleep,popping pills episode twice in 4 years (have lost two whole summers) so feel I have to give it a go.

    If it doesnt work then so be it but as far as I can see the advantages outweigh the disadvantages massively- 4 years of suffering, also major stomach issues due to reliance on diclofenac and naproxen.

    I really need to go into this looking at the positives I guess but fully take on board what you are saying.
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