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6 Week update micro, and a ? about fusion

I am 6 weeks out from a L5S1 micro, and I'm still off work. First 2 weeks postop were good, then my old symptoms started to come back, though thankfully not yet as bad as it was prior to surgery. I can stand and walk fine, but now it is the sitting that does me in, which is not good since I have a desk job. Anyway.
I did go in for another MRI and I am reherniated - I found out the results from my primary because I went in for an unrelated thing. I am still waiting for a call from my surgeons office telling me this, and to find out what the next steps are (his office is not the greatest). In my post op appointment, he had said that if I reherniate, the next step is complete disc removal and fusion.

Kind of makes me nervous, if this is indeed the route we go... would love some input on that.

Also, how much time off work should I expect? I started this thinking I would be back at work 2 weeks after my micro... I'm laughing all the laughs now at that notion. Would love your insight on this as well.



  • Well I have unfortunately been in your shoes, reherniating not once, but twice. Knowing what I know now, I'd have skipped the second microdiscectomy and gone straight to the fusion because it was necessary for me to finally fix the problem. But of course, hindsight is always 20/20!

    You may be one of the more typical patients who has a second microdiscectomy and goes on to have no more problems....or you may end up reherniating again and having a fusion. For me, the idea of a fusion with screws and rods and drilling and removing the disc was terrifying. While I was almost giddy to have the microdisc surgeries because I was in so much pain, the fusion just seemed so big and awful. And don't get me wrong, it's a long recovery, not necessarily surgically, but on the inside.

    I had minimally invasive TLIF fusion of the L5/S1 and my surgical incisions/scars are 2 inches or less. In fact, I left the hospital superglued together after only one night. As terrified as I was of having the fusion surgery, and even given that I had some minor complications and the surgery took almost twice as long as normal, it still wasn't as bad as I had imagined. My pain was never out of control (although I'll admit to a fairly high pain tolerance). I took things very slow and didn't push myself with my recovery. I had already had two surgeries within a few months' time on the same level so I knew I needed to just heal. I took pain meds religiously around the clock for the first 2-3 weeks, then slowly started to wean off of them, but I took something narcotic until around week 6-7 at least once a day. I still take Lyrica for nerve damage and likely will always need something, but that's because I had complications (I'm not the typical story in some ways).

    There was a definite turning point, recovery-wise, around 6-8 weeks after surgery. I was able to sleep better and just feel more normal from that point on. Now I am almost 11 months out from my fusion surgery and am functioning at about 95% of normal. My nerve damage prevents me from walking without a limp which slows me down, but otherwise I can do pretty much everything else I would normally do. I try not to lift anything heavy (including my 40 lb. 6 year old!) and try to just be very careful with bending/twisting and activities that would be jarring, but otherwise I'm just living life with a new appreciation for all the times when my body functions as it should.

    I didn't work outside the home at the time, so I can't comment on how long I would have been out of work, but hopefully this helps a little bit. Best wishes going forward, and if I can help in any other way, please let me know!
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • Thank you for sharing - your story is similar to mine :) My disc was severely herniated, with not much left, so that is why he said the next step would be the fusion rather than another micro.
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