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Herniated Disc at L5-S1. Questions aboutt possible discectomy?

Hey Everyone,
I've been suffering with severe back pains as well as pain, cramping and tingling running down my left leg for the past 5 weeks. It was diagonosed as sciatica but due to a serious loss of sensation in my leg, it was recommended by a doctor that I do an MRI which shows a herniated disc at L5-S1. My doctor said that I should do surgery to remove the substance pressing against my nerve before the nerve root becomes too damaged to be fixed. I've been doing therapy since the day I've gotten pains and it's helped A LOT, however, I still suffer with severe pains and constantly have to take pain killers. I've heard horror stories of unsuccessful surgeries where it actually made the problem worse and unfixable. So, I'm stuck between doing the surgery or sticking with therapy. If there's anyone who has undergone the surgery or has gotten better through therapy, could you please share your story or give me some advice. I'd really appreciate it. 
Thank you.
Btw, I'm a female and I turned 20 last month. 


  • hello,kryssii101!

    there are plenty of horror stories out there about back surgeries--disproportionately so.  why?  arguably, it's because the thousands of people who are out there enjoying life after successful spinal surgical procedures aren't sitting behind a computer looking for ways to ease their pain!

    i had a spinal fusion performed in january.  i had some complications from internal scar tissue at the surgical site, but since i had that removed in june, i'm back on track and experiencing the 80-90% pain relief my surgeon said i could expect.  i do consider myself a "success story in the making".  now, the scar tissue problem was a bit of a detour on my recovery road, but i would not call it a "horror"!!  before you get nervous about that, everyone gets a little bit of scar tissue--it is your body's way of protecting a wound.  i was in the unfortunate minority of patients for whom it became a troublesome and symptomatic issue.  i have joked in other posts that i could reach into a barrel of crabs and still put out a sardine ;)

    there are a number of members here who've had discectomies. they are all along the recovery spectrum, and are most certainly far from all being "horror stories"!  surgery is undoubtedly a big, and personal decision.  let's look at it this way for a moment...you've been told that leaving this alone will likely lead to permanent nerve damage, but that a discectomy could prevent this damage from occurring.  right there is your proverbial "fork in the road".  rather than looking at the horror stories of failed back surgeries, perhaps taking a look at the effects of permanent nerve damage might warrant closer inspection.  what kinds of outcomes from your discectomy does your surgeon expect you will experience? 

    i was scared, anxious, a little too stubborn, yet eventually relieved when i finally had my fusion surgery.  one of the best pieces of advice i've received was from one of my old english professors:  when you have a firm stance/outlook about something (in this case, the idea that surgery will make you worse, not better), challenge yourself to find all the information you can to the contrary.  success stories are out there--i'm one of them, in progress, of course.

    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!
  • Ellen625EEllen625 New Jersey, USPosts: 757
    I had a large herniation at L5S1 resulting in severe spinal stenosis causing severe sciatica on my right side. By the time I consulted with a surgeon, I had been experiencing these symptoms for about 3 months with no relief. I could not sit, drive or work. I  decided to go with surgery. I had a microdiscectomy on 6/16/16 and, so far, so good!

    I am much older than you so your situation may be different. 

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  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 449
    I had a 'severe rupture' at L5-S1, opted for the discectomy as it was the least invasive recommendation I got (I got 2 others).  I had been living with excruciating pain 24/7, could not sit comfortably for very long, could barely walk or do much of anything - for 9 long months.  The discectomy surgery did not instantly relieve my nerve pain, as you sometimes hear/read about; but steadily, slowly over the next few months things improved.  I could walk immediately following my surgery, and did so every day (walking for exercise was my first love :blush:" alt=":blush:" height="20" /> ).  Now, I re-herniated almost a year post-op, so some would call that 'a failed surgery'.  But even as I'm  8+ months and counting, still no word on when I can consult with surgeons again, I am still better off than I was before surgery.  That may change at any given moment, but for now I can truthfully say I'm not sorry I went for it.  It gave me some relief.  If you are getting relief with conservative treatments, that's valuable.  Improvement - even better!  Every person, situation is unique, even if our symptoms are pretty identical.  Surgeon's reputation/skill, patient's age and physical health, post-op rehabilitation, scar tissue - these are all factors in the equation, and some of it you can't do anything about.  If you can, get another surgeon's opinion.  It may help you make the decision.  All the best to you!

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