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Tell ME YOUR Microdicectomy Story

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
I have a central/left disc herniation between L4-L5 I had shots back in 2001 that didn't really help and I have been living with back and leg pain for the last 10 years. I am considering at this time the microdicectomy and I would love to hear all your stories in one place.

What was your diagnosis?
What was your chosen treatment?
How long was your recover time?
How long before you could be really active?
Was the treatment successful?
Was it a horror story?

I need all the info I can get my GP says this surgery isn't helpful at all and yet it's done all the time and I've had many other doctors tell me I need surgery.


  • Thanks for the reply paulgla, but I would appreciate it if you answer my question, or don't post. I'm not asking for people to suggest a treatment or diagnose me I want to hear your stories with this particular procedure.
  • Hi snafu - I had an L5-S1 discectomy in Jan 2007. I debated about it, should I do shots, surgery, what drove to do it was the rapid progression of numbness in my left foot and calf. I got immediate relief from the surgery but to this day, still have some residual numbness. A few details to answer your questions:
    - it was day surgery
    - it was about a week before I was really functional, and 6 weeks before I returned to work
    - the first week I only walked about 15 minutes a day, VERY slowly. My boyfriend worked from home to keep an eye on me.
    - I pretty much stopped the painkillers (vicodin 500mg 8x / day. Seriously.) after surgery but continued with the ibuprofin 800mg 1-2x / day
    - Started PT 3 weeks post op. I was bored and restless. In hindsight I probably should have given it another week or two.
    - "Really active" I can't answer that one, I'm not particularly athletic and don't go to the gym, maybe that is part of my problem... but I'm a city girl and walk *everywhere* and it was about 4-6 weeks post-op when I really got my legs back.
    - Overall positive experience. Really good surgeon and medical facility.

    The sad part is I re-herniated the same disc in December 2007. Apparently this is quite common. I've had 2 injections, trying a course of meds, but the next surgery is fusion or disc replacement, and its a longer recovery :( I'm asking all the same questions you are, except about fusion and DR!

    Hope that helps.
    Jan 2009 L5-S1 ALIF
    May 2017 ALIF L4-L5 with PLF rods added L4-L5-S1
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  • My endoscopic microdiscectomy failed. It did take care of most of the leg pain but my back pain is much worse. Mine was radical and it made my spine unstable as well as making my facet pain worse.
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  • What was your diagnosis?
    I am a 42 (41 at time of surgery) male and was diagnosed with an L5/S1 Herniation (was never told the exact size, other than it was the largest one my ortho. doc had ever seen)

    What was your chosen treatment?
    I began noticing pain in my left buttock and behind my left thigh in Jan/Feb of 2008. I lived with it for a few months thinking it would just go away. Unfortunately, it continued to progress. I finally went to the doc (ortho) in early April.

    At my initial visit (pre-MRI), doc took xrays and diagnosed me with a herniated disk. We discussed treatments and he said surgery would be an option, but the very last option. We would try several things before that (shots, etc.).

    Between the time of my initial visit and my MRI (about a week), I ended up bed-ridden with the worst pain I can ever recall (in buttock and thigh area). During this weekend, my left leg went almost completely numb. I went for my MRI later that week and saw my doc the following week. At this point, I could somewhat function (on pain meds) and at least return to work....but physical activity was out. When I saw the doc the following week he said my herniation was so large that the only real option at that point was surgery. I asked about the other methods of treatment and he said if I felt more comfortable with those, we could try them....however, he felt within a month or two I would be right back in there to schedule surgery. I had a trip planned in June to go to Cooperstown with the baseball team I coach...so I opted for the surgery (in late April) to be able to make that trip.

    How long was your recover time?
    I had surgery on April 28th as an outpatient. The next day I began taking short walks. Within two weeks I was walking almost three miles per day (combined total of three walks per day.) After surgery, I noticed that I was pretty much pain free and a lot of the numbness had subsided. At nine days, I had some pain return and thought I re-herniated....however, I was told by my doc that this was normal as the nerve "wakes up".

    The actual recovery for this surgery was fairly easy for me (though I have read that is not the case for all.) I took pain meds for the first few days. Not so much because I really needed them, I was just cautioned that I wanted to make sure I stayed ahead of the pain. After that, I found I was sore in the mornings, so would take some then.....and that would be it. I would say at two weeks, I was totally off pain meds.

    The only med I continued to take was Voltaren (anti-inflammtory). I found that if I didn't take that I had some pain.

    How long before you could be really active?
    At two weeks, I was put in physical therapy (3 times a week for four weeks.) This helped greatly. The strength I had lost in my left foot returned quickly. It still isn't as strong as my right leg...but pretty close. I coach baseball and was able to get back on the field (though in a limited capacity) at about this time. I wasn't very active at this point, but able to get out and about on my own (able to drive) and that helped my mental state a lot.

    At my eight week visit, my doc said I was doing great and could return to "life". He said I could resume all activities (even riding roller coasters if I wanted too...I didn't.) My big thing was being able to take my two boys fishing in my boat and resuming full coaching duties. he said I was cleared for all that. However, before surgery, he had told me three months for all of those activites. I decided to slowly ramp up my activity...just last week hit my first grounders to my team since April (I am 12 weeks out today - Monday). I was afraid I would have some pain...but didn't.

    I am still somewhat cautious in my activity. I bend much more carefully, and watch how much (and how) I lift things. I wouldn't say I am back to 100% activity yet...but I think that is more a problem with my mindset than my back. I have had a hard time mentally not being afraid of re-herniating and overdoing it.

    Was the treatment successful?
    My doc and I would say yes. However, I am only three months out (today) and who knows what the next three months hold. My doc said he doesn't foresee any future surgeries for me, but he can't guarantee that. He did tell me that if I don't watch my weight, and don't stay fit, that he can almost guarantee I will have future problems.

    In terms of the pain I was feeling pre-surgery...this surgery was a very good decision for me. I still have some left foot numbness. However that finally seems to be resolving itself slowly. I also will get some slight sciatic pain behind my left thigh on days when I am particulary active (like this weekend at a baseball tournament). It isn't bad pain and often doesn't even require Tylenol...I just notice it.

    My disc space has pretty much collapsed, and as a result of that I do have some lower back aches (again, on really active days.) However, that pain doesn't even require meds at all.....I just feel a little stiff (and mostly in the morning.)

    Was it a horror story?
    For me, absolutely not. I was terrified of this surgery (people poking and cutting around my spinal cord freaks me out a bit)...and it was all for naught. Deciding to have this surgery was the best decision I could have made given my circumstances...and actually one of the few major decisions in life that I have absolutely zero regrets about making.

    Sorry, so long...but wanted to give you as much info as I could to help you with your decision.

    Good luck.

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