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New here! Questions.. 6 weeks post op

I recently had a microdiscectomy on my L5-S1. I am 41 years old and was a marathoner. I have recently found out I have osteopenia and a very degenerated disc. The pain came on very suddenly while running and you all know what happens after that. Horrid nerve pain etc. My left leg became very weak and numb so the ortho surgeon recommended surgery. I awoke with no nerve pain. I am currently 6 weeks out and still have a very numb foot and bouts of livable nerve pain. My back can hurt pretty bad at times. Motrin does nothing and I have a stash of percocet left from surgery I take when I have to. I have begun swimming and my longest walk to date is 9 miles. That left me with pretty bad shooting pains for the weekend in my back.

I know I sound like I'm rambling so I apologize for that. My L3-L4 has a lateral recess tear and a tiny disc extrusion. It says mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. It says the disc is making contact without evidence of impingement. Also osteophyte complex.

My L4-L5 same, osteophyte complex and tiny disc bulge. Right facet arthritis, the same narrowing etc.

I won't write all that they wrote for my L5-S1 because obv I have had surgery. It mentions severe lateral recess narrowing there(was that just the nerve impingement?) facet arthrosis etc.I am greatly summarizing what the report says.

Any how my questions are will I be at risk for these discs to blow out? I am currently living with back pain(so is everyone else) that frankly I didn't have before. i was running for years and WHAM now I can't put on my left shoe with out pain. Can someone just help me understand what all that means because the doctors aren't really explaining any of it. My 6 week follow up was good but I'm disappointed that I feel like I will never be what I was.

I appreciate all your time and answers!!



  • i can tell you what i went through. there is some similarity.

    I herniated l5-s1 two and a half years ago. i had a microdisectomy after 6 months of conservative treatment. unfortunately i re-herniated the disc shortly after the surgery. Had a second surgery 4 months later. And by that time the disc was completely shot and herniated yet again.

    that being said, i've got ddd at that level as well as l4-5. with the starts of ddd at l2-l4. I've got osteophytes as well.

    I can say that it wasn't until after my second surgery that i started to get the real chronic low back pain. before that it was all in my right leg. i had the 2nd surgery a year and a half ago. i managed to deal with the sciatic pain and the low back pain for a while. 6 months ago, for no reason, sciatica suddenly got much much better. but in trade the low back pain got worse.

    i had a fusion at l5-s1 on june 25th because of the low back pain. it was constant. I'm only 40 now, and have 2 little kids at home that would like me to do more than sit home all the time. so i finally decided to go for the fusion. i'm hoping that now the disc is gone, the bone spurs have all been shaved down and everything cleaned out that i will have a fighting chance.

    i do have a bulge at l4-5 with an annular tear. its got DDD. but my surgeon felt it was still doing its job, and it didn't make sense to fuse it and lose that mobitlity. by the time i opted for the fusion, the l5-s1 disc was so compressed, i was bone on bone, and had already lost the range of motion there.

    i can't tell you if you're going to always have pain, but i can say the more that you have done at that spot the more chances for pain to become chronic. i didn't really have low back pain until i had already had the 2 surgeries. guess i traded one problem for another.

    I hope you have a better outcome and the pain goes away.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • Hi Nora
    Hang in there. It gets better.

    I am 10 wks post op today. I am 42 and a physical therapist for 18 yrs. I had a massive disc bulge at L4-5 and a bone spur that was shaved off bc it was also irritating the nerve root. I had no weakness just pain and severe "nerve tension" of my left leg and shooting, lightning pain after sitting and bending. Each week has been better and better for me. I have occassional back discomfort and a little nervey type feeling in the tip of my left 3rd and 4th toes here and there. I have worked my way back up to weight lifting at about 30% in the gym. I was a cyclist and weight lifter before. Yes we are at risk for reherniation, especially in the first 6-8 wks. I was just careful to avoid bending and twisting as well as lifting the first 8 wks. I returned to work modified duty and part time after 2 1/2 weeks and back in the gym at about 6 wks, mostly just walking on the TM or elliptical no more than 30 min as suggested by my doc. I won't get back to cycling for another month I think, even though the dr said it's ok to start slowly. I'm being extra conservative. At about 6 wks I had a set back for about 3 days (increase pain in my feet) after doing the elliptical for 30 min. The dr said to back off bc what happens is the nerve moves inside a sheath where there may be scar tissue and this inflames the nerve. It may take a few months for the nerve inflammation to settle and nerve tissue doesnt calm down as rapidly as other tissues in the body. I simply backed off and pain was gone. At 10 wks just doing 30 min elliptical or stair climber and have just a little discomfort. I'm going at about 50% intensity of what I did before. I am now bending over to shave my legs and put on my shoes with no problem whatsoever but at wk 6 i still was very cautious. The risk of herniating again is there early on and there is greater risk, say if you return to a job where you are lifting and bending alot and didn't strengthen your core/back/glutes sufficiently and returned to bad habits. After all the annulus, or outer ring of the disc has a hole in it that was created during surgery and the nuclear material can leak out if you stress the disc too soon. It may take 3 or so months to scar in. Running is definitely possible again although it may be a good idea to cross train with other activities to minimize the impact on the areas of arthritis. I don't think that I will ever be what I was in the sense that my disc is not that of a 20 yr old anymore but it is absolutely possible to still maintain a fulfilling athletic lifestyle if you are ok making a few changes. Don't be alarmed by all the narrowing and arthritis jargon that the MRI findings show. After 35 everyone has some of this. It's perfectly normal , especially if you've been so athletic. I beat by back up weight lifting hard and lifting pts for almost 20 yrs. Lots of my patients never did anything athletic and have a spine much worse than mine. The only thing I really feel helped me is that I went into surgery with a very strong core and in great shape. I was exercising even when I had pain, I just modified stuff. The doc said bc of this I was able to tolerate such a bad disc bulge for 7 years. It also helped that I had an excellent surgeon. Now time and how I care for my back will tell. I wish you the best. I know everyone here only posts there bad results but I always update my posts to let people know there are very good outcomes if they are the right candidate for a microdiscectomy.
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  • Thank you both for taking the time to answer and give me uplifting words. I was an avid marathoner in fact I was in the height of my training for the Colorado marathon which was supposed to be my Boston qualifier. I remember feeling like I had broke my back when my feet hit the pavement. I know that because I was in such good shape that my recovery has gone well. I'm just very fearful now and am having trouble getting beyond that. I guess I need to learn to understand that my back will hurt at times period, and not let that freeze me. It's such a progress..
  • bridgetmckeownbbridgetmckeown Posts: 8
    edited 07/09/2012 - 4:30 AM
    im coming 5 weeks post op l4/l5 decompression and fit of wallis ligament. it has since last week got quite sore again even though i had started walking, and was making great progress. now im mainly bed rest again as it aches alot. dont know really if i have done any damage feel like it is inflammation or a pulled muscle. any help or comments please
  • Sore like how? What was your pain like, muscular?
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  • running he told me will accelerate my condition as I have spurs, narrowing ddd blah blah...
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