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Question concerning reherniation

backstory: on january 3rd i had a microd to fix a herniation between my l5/s1. the disc was herniated to the left side and caused excruciating pain to the point i couldn't stand or walk. i had sciatica from my buttocks down into the 3 smaller toes on my left foot. in fact the only way i would be pain free is if i laid on my right side and pulled my left leg up into my chest. image that's the side view. my ns said is was a herniated/fractured disc with severe nerve compressed.

after surgery i felt great. the sciatica pain was gone but i was left with numbness which i expected so it was no big dead. i was literally on bed rest for a month and a half afterwards. anytime i needed to move i did it slow and deliberate. a month and a half into recovery my ns lifted some restrictions allowing me to walk and drive short distances. still everything was fine. when walking i always wore my hard shell back brace. if i needed to pick something up i always squatted and make sure to not bend or twist.

2 weeks ago my ns finally lifted all restrictions. he had me do some mobility tests in his office and checked out how the scar was healing. he said i no longer needed the back brace for day to day activities but to still be mindful not to bend or twist. life was good. i was pain free and the numbness in my leg was finally starting to subside.

fast forward to this monday. my gf and i were driving home and a car in front of me locked their brakes up which in return caused me to do the same thing. for the remainder of that day i felt no different at all. no pain, nothing. the next morning i wake up and start getting ready for work. i sit on the edge of the bed and put my socks and when i stand i feel a slight soreness on the right side of my lower back. the opposite side of the herniation. i proceed to continue getting dressed and by the time i'm done its even more sore. i get to work 45 minutes later and by this point i'm starting to develop a list. i tell my boss i need to leave and head back home. i've been in bed since tuesday. i called my ns head nurse on wednesday and she says that this is common and that from bracing myself when braking quickly it would have put too much strain on my lower back and that now it's flaring up and this will most likely last a week. she mentioned that by the end of the week if the swelling hadnt gone down i would need a medrol pack. so since this issue has began the pain has moved. it is now across my entire lower into my hips. this pain feels "different" then when it was herniated. there is no sciatica pain whatsoever. i do get random sharp, shooting pains when walking or if i'm laying in bed and try to flex my pelvis forward or backwards. my back is most sore in the mornings after i wake up. i'm able to walk around when needed but if i'm up too long my list and the swelling get much worse.

yesterday i spoke to my nurse and she prescibed the medrol which i began at around 10pm last night.i'm not really feeling any change as of yet. she also mentioned that once this "flare up", as she calls it, is over that she will be getting me into pt to strengthen my back muscles.i remember talking to my ns after surgery and this type of thing can be expected after microd, especially in the first 6 months post op. honestly i'm just looking for advice from other people who have experienced something similar. i know i wont know for sure unless it gets to the point where another mri is done. the nurse says if medrol doesnt cut it i will need a esi. does this sound like a re-herniation or just a nerve/muscle flare up? sorry for rambling, i tend to do that when i'm nervous.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • You said the pain is mostly just across your lower back? No stabbing pain in one specific area? Is there obvious swelling? I've had several "flare ups" of severe back pain over the years. Especially after my first Discectomy in 2002. My doc would also prescribe steroids and pain meds and the episode would usually resolve within a week. It's a good sign that you're not having sciatica symptoms. Obviously it would be hard to say for sure without additional imaging, but if it's just back pain hopefully it will resolve.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
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  • thanks for yout reply! no pain in one specific spot. the pain actually started on the right side of my lower back which is the opposite side of the herniation. since it began it has spread across to the other side. when it was herniated there was a spot on my lower back on the left side that i could press and literally drop myself to my knees it hurt so much. i dont have that right now. yes there is obvious swelling. for example when i woke up yesterday i could stand straight up with a slightly noticeable lean and barely any swelling. i had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the steroids yesterday evening. by the time i got back home i had about a 20% lean with my hips being obviously off center and very noticeable swelling. this morning i'm back to barely any lean with little swelling. at this point my nurse flat out refused to sign off for an mri because she said it's not needed.

    i will preapologize for my rudimentary image below:


    the red is where my back is sore and the yellow line is where the quick, sharp pain comes from when standing or trying to move my pelvis forward or backward.
  • It has happened to me 3 times since my last operation. Except I was doing stupid things I shouldn't have been doing. Each time, it took me a month or two to get back to being pain-free.

    Are you using cold therapy? I used those blue gel packs that you can freeze and they did help.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • ubercajunuubercajun Posts: 3
    edited 03/22/2014 - 9:22 AM
    My NS suggested the alternating cold/hot. So im using a heating pad for a bit then switching to cold packs. I have clay, therapearl and homemade cold packs. Funny enough my homemade cold packs last the longest out of all 3. My NS also suggested warm bath soaks as well as massage to help it out.
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