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Second herniation of L5S1

I had a herniation of L5S1 in 2011 which was taken care of by a disectomy after physical therapy did not help. I have been pain free for the last 5 years until June of this year when I started with pain again. I had an MRI that showed the same disc herniated again. Has anyone had this problem and have physical therapy help or was surgery needed and what type was needed. My doctor is pushing therapy even thou I told him it didn't work the last time. I am a 32 year old mother of 3 and really want to be as pain free as possible so I can enjoy my children again. 


  • Hi Tara, I would suggest giving the PT a go before resorting to surgery. It may not have worked for you last time but each herniation can be different even in the same person. From reading countless experiences online I have come across a number of people who had a discectomy initially but were able to manage a second herniation at the same level without surgery. Some of these people managed with just PT and other conservative methods whilst some opted for an ESI. 

    Unfortunately, no one can tell you how things will pan out whichever way you decide to handle this but avoiding surgery if at all possible (especially if the primary complaint is pain) can only be a good thing. Good luck to you and I hope things work out, I can certainly understand how difficult it is when you want the best for your kids. 
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 451
    I had L5-S1 discectomy Dec 2014, re-herniated at almost a year post-op.  At first, I was afraid I was right back to square one, and got the ball rolling right away for diagnostics and referrals, knowing that everything takes a long time here (Canada).  I luckily got an MRI one month post-re-herniation, it was a confirmation and also showed scar tissue as being a factor in my discomfort.  I am 9+ months since re-herniation, and managing better than I did with original injury.  I use prescription medication only occasionally.   And while there was some improvement initially, I am slowly on the decline.  I have secured an appointment with my neurosurgeon, but it is still a couple of months away - I will be a year post-re-herniation by that time.  Plenty of time to know that physio is only giving me temporary relief, and I don't want to be on prescription meds for the rest of my life!  I continue to walk several days a week and I go to an aquacise class at the local pool 3 x weekly.  I am trying to keep in good physical shape while I can to give me every advantage whatever step might be next.  Also, it is good for the spirit to be doing something positive for my body instead of being overwhelmed (physically or emotionally) with the pain and discomfort all the time.  I would certainly give the PT a try, it may work well for you and spare you another surgery.  All the best to you!
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  • tara84ttara84 New YorkPosts: 2
    Thankyou for replying, I am absolutely going to try the therapy. I am however a little scared of what pain it might cause. I can't even do little things around my house without being in terrible pain. I took my kids for a walk a few days ago and I was out of commission completely the next day. I go see my primary doctor again in Tuesday so we will see. I was a little uneasy with the specialist I seen because he was very rude and wasn't concerned at all with any of my concerns. I have decided not to go back to that specialist, so in the meantime of getting another referral I will try the therapy and then go from there. Has anyone had the surgery where they use the cage, or use fusion to treat the problem? 
  • catapamcatapam AustriaPosts: 157
    I think less invasive surgery works, better it is.
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 451
    My physiotherapist uses an osteopathic approach to treatment, and I would highly recommend finding one who does the same.  Works more with nerve pressure, stretching, massage and manipulation.  I know some ruptures are not rehabilitate-able, but my physiotherapist sure wanted to try and help me avoid surgery.  After the 3 recommendations for surgery, he conceded that it might be necessary :)  But I think surgery is viewed by general public as a quick fix.  It's not. Forever after you must be kind to your back and realize you are prone to re-injure.  I really hope you have success with the PT.
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello tara84 !
    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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