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L4/L5 discectomy post op - pain is back


i am 29 years old and had l4/l5 microdiscectomy surgery on May 11 (a little over 2 months ago). I revisited my surgeon after 6 weeks who okayed me to start exercising again. I had felt no nerve pain up until this point. I was doing elliptical exercise and some light weight lifting and started to feel a bit of the old pain come back. I started PT and stopped the exercise and am definitely feeling more spasms than before. My PT said it is the scar tissue forming around the nerve which is causing the pain so we are doing massage around the scar as well as Mackenzie exercises. The pain is most severe in my left outer hip/ buttocks. It travels down then hits my outer calf and goes into my left ankle and foot to my second toe. it is most uncomfortable when I sit. I am also having trouble Finding a comfortable position when I am sleeping.

does anyone have experience with this?? Is there alt things I can be doing to help relieve this nerve pain??

much appreciated!!


  • hello, hayley62!

    i had l4-s1 spinal fusion surgery in january, and was doing very well until 6-7 weeks after the operation.  my surgeon ordered two mris to be done 4-6 weeks apart.  the first mri showed an "amorphous mass" at the l5/s1 level, and one of the theories was that it was a post-op hematoma that would reabsorb/dissipate with time.  my next mri showed that this mass had grown to include the l4-l5 level, and was extending into my spinal canal.  it was determined to be "epidural fibrosis" (fancy name for scar tissue).  i experienced terrible nerve pain, saddle anesthesia, urinary issues, etc.  i opted for a procedure called an "epidural lysis of adhesions" to free the nerve roots from the scar tissue.  within 2-3 days, i began experiencing relief!!  i have since been able to start physical therapy, with focus on "neural flossing" exercises (these exercises help to keep the nerve roots gliding along their proper channels, and also helps to prevent them from getting bound in scar tissue again!).

    have you had any mris since your procedure?  internal scar tissue is a different animal than the scarring at the incision site, and therefore, needs an alternative treatment approach.  perhaps a fresh look in there might be warranted so that you can be given the treatment that is most effective for your situation.

    i'd like to welcome you to spine-health!  please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!

    welcome to spine-health

    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 451
    I was recommended to massage castor oil over the incision area every night.  It is easily absorbed beneath the skin and helps to make scar tissue more pliable.  It has made a difference for me, my physiotherapist has commented that it is much easier to work with since I started using the castor oil.  Also, my surgeon said elliptical was a no-no for the first few months post-surgery, as it puts strain on lower back if your form is even a little off.  2 months is still early in the recover game, patience is key!
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  • derekfergdderekferg Sacramento Posts: 13
    Six weeks is WAY too early to begin your normal excercise regiment. I just had a discectomy last week and my surgeon says I'm not allowed to do any kind of excercising besides walking for up to five weeks. He specifically said to avoid elliptical machines and weightlifting for several months.... I'm very surprised your doctor gave you the okay. I hope you find some relief, I know how shitty it can be to have surgery and still have symptoms afterward. Best wishes
  • derekfergdderekferg Sacramento Posts: 13
    I highly recommend you demand a follow up MRI fron your doctor. If your disc is reherniated you need to know. There's a chance it is scar tissue but wouldn't you like to know for sure?
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