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Please give me something to hope for...

Hi everybody! I am new here. Like others on here, I am at my wits end with my sciatica problem. Sorry this is so long, I just need to get this out of my head.

Back in August, I had a bad ache. Unfortunately, I had to take a long trip to drop off my nephew at college (no heavy lifting involved). My back bothered me throughout the trip, but I made it through. A day or so later after I got back from my trip, I developed severe sciatica pain. I could not do anything without being in incredible pain. I got up the following morning and ended up passing out from the pain. After sitting a while, my husband helped me up to get to the living room chair. I passed out again. Ended up in ER and they said that I had a possible herniated disk.

I made an appointment with a neurosurgeon and had an MRI. MRI showed I had a disk bulge in L4 and a herniated disk in L5-S1. I also have spinal stenosis and degenerative disk disease. We tried oral steroids and a little later, a steriod injection that did absolutely nothing for my pain. We did 3 weeks of PT where the my physical therapist said it wasn't working and I needed to return to my doctor. I meet with the neurosurgeon and he gave me 2 options: live with the pain or have surgery. I took a couple months to thing about it and decided I did not want to live with the pain. I had a laminotomy almost 6 weeks ago.

Almost 6 weeks post-op, I still have sciatica pain. The pain is about the same as before the surgery. The neurosurgeon seemed very pleased after the surgery and did not have any problems. I went back to him 3 weeks after my surgery and told him that I was still in pain. He kind of looked perplexed (his nurse had told me beforehand that she did not know of any person that had not had relief from one of his surgeries). He went on to tell me that nerves are the slowest healing tissue in the body and that it could take up to 3 months for it to heal properly. Then, he said that likely if I did not feel any relief at that 3 month mark that most likely I had permanent nerve damage. He said at that point he could do a case study on me.

I am just so sad. I really thought my pain would be gone. My sciatica had only been acting up for 4 months before I had surgery, so I did not think it would be permanently damaged. For permanent damage, I thought the nerve would have to be pinched for a longer period of time or that I would have had to have done some strenuous activity causing injury. All I did was take a long trip and then follow doctor's orders.

I have been doing my walking everyday (he said I needed to walk at least 1 mile a day) and I took another round of oral steroids. Also, Advil does seem to help with the pain (I wouldn't take the narcotics he prescribed because they made me sick). I don't think the pain is as bad as it was right after surgery, but it is still there and awful when I get up in the mornings. Standing and walking are best for me. Sitting is not comfortable and definitely getting up after sitting is very painful. The weird thing is I can lay on the couch and watch TV, but in the mornings right before I make myself get up out of bed, my leg hurts laying there.

Is there any success stories out there? I am just so scared to have to live with this pain and hate that I had back surgery and it's not fixed. I feel like I just keep looking at the calendar and watching the 3 month time creep closer with the continued pain.


  • Hi. 1 st of all if nurse said there is not 1 person that this doctor did surgery on that did not get releif i think she is full of bs,
    There is no such thing, She just playing him up cause she works for him,
    Nerves can take up to 18 months to heal not even the 3 months doctor told you ,

    Spine is a long recovery no mater how you look at it and you wont know for posibly close to a year if surgery helped or not,
    For now whats done is done and all you can do is wait, If it dont get beter months down the road and doctor dont have an answer then might be worth geting another opinion,
    What the nurse wont tell you is that not everyone gets beter with surgery , And not to mention often 1 st surgery might fail and its a diferent cause all together,

    And its realy stupid for a nurse to even say that make a person feel like they the only one that surgery might not of helped,
    Maybe she sleeping with the doctor. Lol

    Good luck, Give it time and hang in there,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • DNiceDDNice Posts: 1,962
    edited 01/19/2013 - 2:14 PM
    All I can say is that no surgeon is 100% successful. The back is a complex thing. My surgeon and his staff were similar. I had such a HUGE herniation that my microdiscectomy was to be 'gratifying'. Never was. But I stayed the course on my 2-week post op and by the 6-week post op, told them that I was probably worse than before the surgery. They told me I needed more time and put me on prednisone. That did nothing other than make me jittery, depressed, and left me still in pain. At my final appointment 10-weeks post op, I was polite but told the doctor I was till hurting. HE said that I just needed to be patient b/c it takes time to heal. I reminded him that he said that most people were asking to play golf or run by the 6-week mark. He said "yeah, the surgery for all practical purposes should have been gratifying based on the size of the herniation".

    At that point, I told him "Either my expectations were high, or you and I have a differing opinion of what Gratifying means because this has been anything BUT gratifying". I asked for another MRI and he reluctantly agreed stating that he'd do it but he really didn't expect to find anything.

    Wrong...they found another big herniation.

    Anyhow - people DO get better after surgery. Everyone is different. I know a handful of people that had similar surgeries (I know them personally, not through here) and they did get relief so people do get relief. But I also know folks that do not get relief or require more help to get that relief.

    I had a 2nd Microdiscectomy on the same level (different surgeon) and it took 3 months to feel relief. Then another 3 to really look back and be pleased.

    You are at 6-weeks. I believe most surgeons cover you for 3 months (90 days post op) so ask for an appointment at the 10 week mark and if you do not see any improvement, ask for a re-MRI just to be sure you didn't lose more disc. If there is no more lost disc, I would suggest you ask the surgeon his thoughts on next steps. I would recommend a physiatrist (Muscular/skeletal doctor) and team to see if they can work with you and your doctors to help.

    Good luck. It is depressing but I think you are still early on and have some options if you find the pain isn't reduced.
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  • Thanks so much for reading and responding. It helps to hear from others who have went through the same thing. I try to not let this get me down, but it really sucks to be in pain everyday as well as not be able to do things because of the pain.

    alexhurting: My husband and I had joked about the nurse sleeping with the dr. I knew it was bull and she tried blaming me by asking if I was sure that I followed dr's orders fully and not picking up heavy things. She and I have had our issues, so her comments don't surprise me.

    About the 3 months time frame, I did not explain what he told me very well. He said that 90% of the healing happens in the first 3 months. He said if I did not feel any relief in 3 months that I probably had permanent nerve damage.

    Thanks again for responding!
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