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Discectomy - After the Operation

Discussion in 'Injury Recovery Rehabilitation Massage' started by Some One, Mar 4, 2012.

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  1. Some One

    Some One Member

    Dec 27, 2009

    I had a discectomy on L4/L5 4 weeks ago following several years of pain in my lower back and left leg with the accompnying sciatica. I tried everyhting else and decided that the operation was the right way to go. Whether this was the right decision remains to be seen and I will save that for a later post.

    Anyway, I have recovered well from the surgery in terms of the wound healing and general pain form the surgery has now gone. What has not gone is the sciatica in my left leg whoch consists of pain and pins and needles and numbness. It is about the same level or slightly worse than before the operation.

    The consultant says that this is normal and may take many months to clear up. Has anyone else had the operation or knows someone that has had the operation and can they let me know their own experience of pain/sciatica after the operation and how long it took for the symptons to clear up?

    Many thanks

  2. Beckiie

    Beckiie Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    i had the same problem last year .i had the same op at the same level last october and i am probably the same as i was before i had the surgery.i had a mri 4 weeks after the surgery as i was exactly the same as you and the scan revealed that another piece of disc had come out and re trapped the nerve.so basically i have the same problem as i had before .trouble is now i have a bit of back pain as well as sciatica.my surgeon wanted to fuse it but i refused as i am only 32.i saw another surgeon a mr martin knight of the spinal foundation in cheshire who is a pioneer in minimal invasive peocedures and he is scheduling me for another discectomy early on next year but it will all be done through a 7mm hole and you are awake .he also welds the disc closed with a laser to stop what has happend to me happening.i should of had this procedure instead of the conventional discectomy but the nhs will not pay for the technology yet.i hope you recover over the next few weeks and dont have to go through what i did .i had 4 months off work and i am now having tratment for a ulnar nerve problem which was caused while i was in the position for lumbar surgery .i woke up with loss of feeling in my hands as well as the sciatica which they were supposed to be fixing.i had never had any problems with my neck or hands but as soon as i woke from the surgery i had a stiff neck and fizzing numb hands .

    anyway best of luck!
  3. Jasanna

    Jasanna Member

    Jun 21, 2010
    I saw my consultant today and told him how things had progressed since surgey nearly six weeks ago. He has again said that the nerve had been scarred by the disc pushing into it for so long and that it will take time for the nerve to recover.

    He felt it was very unlikely that the disc had prolapsed again although reading the entry by colrob1 it is apparent that this can happen.

    The consultant has told me to try and carry on with as normal a life as possible, (without bending or lifting), and to work through the pain and try to avoid giving in to the pain and going for a lay down.

    I start Physio tomorrow to start to free up my lower back. I will keep posting and let you know hoe things progress.
  4. Eccentric

    Eccentric New Member

    Dec 9, 2010
    Matt, how is your back these days?

    I am on the waiting list for a discectomy and my doctor says 2 days after the operation nearly all patients walk away with no pain whatsoever.

    Your story seems to contradict this.
  5. BaOhj

    BaOhj New Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    So does my clinical experience; surgery really should be the final option once everything else has failed, and the success rates are nowhere near as good as the medical profession likes to think - largely because they don't usually see the patient again.
    Patients either give up completely, or just give up on the medical route, seeing chiro/osteo/phyio, and the likes of acupuncture, homeopathy, massage etc; unfortunately there's only so much we can do post-op, whereas most patients I've had who are on a waiting list have cancelled the op; I can only think of one patient who's gone on to actually have it (that I know of anyway). Of course, Cauda Equina patients need the op ASAP, so I'm not counting those ones here.

    I've always been suspicious that the post-op surgery may well be more effective than the surgery itself too.

    Edit to say: My clinical experience may well be biased because of simple cases who don't see me pre-op and for whom the op works won't need to see me at all, so I'll only see the failures, or those who already want conservative treatment instead
  6. mrsHarrysPotters

    mrsHarrysPotters New Member

    Jan 21, 2011

    I had a discectomy on L5 on 12th October last year. I had this done using my private cover rather than wait for the NHS appointment to come through as it was more frequently flaring up. Had the operation on the Friday, and was out of the hospital Tuesday morning. The operation seemed to go well cause when I woke up I tell straight away that numbness in my big toe that I had gotten used to had gone. Didnt have any pain down my right leg either but that was the painkillers and the fact there was no weight being put on it.

    Anyway, was still getting pain and discomfort down my right leg but nowhere near what it was - was told this can take some time to go away because the nerve was really compressed by the prolapse. About 4 weeks after the operation had a setback where I thought my back had gone out again, but again the pain in my leg didnt get near the levels where it was and having physio in the hydrotherapy pool and doing some light swimming helped releave this cause it was just the muscles locking up.

    Now that I am back at work it seems to be getting a little worse again. When sitting I get a cold sensation down my right leg, if I stand up and stay standing it goes to more of a burning sensation - if I sit down and lean forward (supporting myself) its more of a pain sensation. Nothing I can't cope with and I haven't even resorted to any painkillers (apart from Paracetamol if I get a headache) but I cant help thinking its worsening again. I have physio again on Friday so will ask her what she thinks about it. The reason I have logged onto the site today is it feels like I need a hip replacement when I walk, quite painful after a restless night with it niggling me - so the extra stretching etc. I did before leaving for work hasnt helped that much. I can still move about and arent getting the pain in my lower back so I guess its just the muscles reminding me they are there.

    SUGAR CANE Member

    Sep 21, 2009
    hi there,

    I had a double discectomy and the one advise I can give you is to find yourself a very good physio and religiously do the exercises he/she prescribes. It will help. Once you get to the stage where the exercises physios prescribe are far too basic you could start doing pilates
    (equipment based) or if you know someone, get yourself a reputable personal trainer. I know these things cost money but believe me, it will be worth it. If your core is stable you will see, you'll feel a lot better. Will you ever be 100% painfree? I would hope so. i certainly do not call myself painfree but i can live with it and i know that without the exercise i would probably feel like an old woman by now. good luck.
  8. Sunsu

    Sunsu Member

    Mar 20, 2010
    Hi Again!!

    I have a pre-op appointment next week and I go into hospital on Saturday 29th March.

    I am bloody scared to death, to be honest. If you surf the net all you find is horror stories. Everything from incontinence to paralysis at worst, through to no improvement in pain at best.

    I really cannot afford to be away from work for 3 weeks either. I mostly sit at my desk and my office is only 5 minutes away in a car. I am fit, not overweight and still the right side of 40, so what are my chances of a quick recovery?

    Will they remove all of the disc, or just some of it? What keeps the vertebra together when there is no disc in between them? So many questions.....if I am not completely happy next week I might just say b*ll*x to it.

    My pain has lasted for a year now, but lately with regular painkillers I am not doing too badly.

    I just simply dont know what to do.

    Very nervous now.
  9. sapphire_brean13

    sapphire_brean13 New Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Hi, I have had some real problems with my back and to be honest still am.

    I had spinal injections followed by discectomy 18 months ago. Did not work at all infact made things worse. I ended up having total disc replacement in June 07. (L3/4 L4/5). This was a major operation with abdominal approach so not very pleasant but I have to say did make thing a lot better for several months. HOWEVER I have DDD so the next two discs above need doing. I will be having this again as i really think the benefits are worth it. It may sound a little strange but I think that i have just been unlucky. I tell you why.

    1n 2003 aged 38 I was diagnosed with AVN in the hips. I had bilateral hip decompression in the April. By November that year I had 1 total hip replacement. Ather being on crutches for some time this caused problems in my shoulders. I then had left shoulder de-compression. 2005/6 saw me have the other hip replaced, the right shoulder decompressed, and the left shoulder AC Joint excission. I thought things coudn't get worse but I was wrong. I was then told I had a large tumour in my left humerous. Late 2006 I had the first injection in the spine. Jan 2007 discectomy, June total disc replacement, September Right shoulder AC joint excission and final the tumour was remover in November.

    I realaise how scary things are but I would do it all again as the benefits are worth it. My best advise would be Always do the physio and try hydrotherapy if you get the offer. It may hurt whilst your doing it and may be a little worse after the operation but GIVE IT A GO.

    Keep well and let us know how you get on.
  10. LicEncariaNib

    LicEncariaNib New Member

    Jan 15, 2011
    Very new, only just decided to go on forum. I have had lower back pain for fair few years and last July, 2007, after only what I suspect heavy lifting, I reported a severe pain. The pain was centered in my lumbar region and down my left leg. After repeated visits to my doctor, I begged to have an MRI. I was finally referred to a pain clinic last November. I had an MRI last December and it clearly showed two prolapsed discs and sciatica.
    During this time, my own doctor dished out tablets like sweets and finally, the doctors at the pain clinic gave me MST (morphine) and pregabalin, both of which do actually aid the pain a little.
    I had been working all this time, I am a secondary school teacher, but on a part time timetable. An epidural was arranged and I had this 1st Feb. this year. The pain became considerably worse. I finally gave in and have not been at work since, mainly due to health and safety issues.
    After many hospital visits, I felt like I was taking one step forward and three backwards. I had no choice but to involve PALS, an NHS patient organisation, i thoroughly reccommend them, they are amazing, without them, I would not have coped, particularly in fighting depression. They brought forward a second MRI which showed the condition had again worsened considerably, to the extent, I have been now told I may have permanent nerve damage.
    After being told this, I instantly visited my own doctor to ask why he had repeatedly told me I only had lower back pain, he stated they only consider back pain critical when suffered longer than six weeks. I rest my case!!
    A 'good' doctor at the pain clinic I attend was very worried about the fact I have been overlooked and wrote an urgent referral to the QE hospital in Birmingham. He believed I should have been operated on a long time ago.
    I attended the clinic, the surgeon took one look at the MRI scan images and stated they needed operating on immediatley. They admitted me last night. However, due to emergencies, I was sent back home today and have to go back in Monday, next week and they will operate Wednesday morning.
    Like many, I have researched practically everything about the various procedures available. I am very scared. I have read good and bad, though know I have no choice as my quality of life has completely changed; my role of motherhood has altered and basically I feel like a 90 year old in a 35 year old body!!
    I know the surgeon is going to 'repair' both discs, particularly the one focussing on the one compressing my sciatic nerve and he needs to release the pressure on my spinal canal.
    Can anyone reassure me please, I am so scared that I wont ever fully be able to participate in my old normal activities. How long does the recovery period really take and when will I be able to return to work etc.
    Has anyone also encountered any 'sceptics' who seem to disregard our painful conditions and seem to deem them fake? I certainly have one colleague who I know thinks this. If only they knew!!!!!
  11. Bizz

    Bizz Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    I just joined after seeing this thread!
    I had a discectomy l4/l5 last month, a month ago. I've had back problems for five years and I've had sciatica for a year. However the sciatic pain I suffered in the month before my operation was like nothing I've ever endured before. I was howling with pain. I had to lie on the waiting room floor in the hospital, couldn't sit down, etc, etc. Doctors put me on 12 tablets a day and I thought my life was over, I lost all sensation in my left foot and started tripping over it because I couldn't lift it up.
    The MRI scan showed the disc had prolapsed and it (sorry can't remember the term) came out completely before I had the op.
    I was an urgent case but the NHS wanted me to wait 6 weeks to I paid for it.
    My consultant who operated on me has also had a discectomy and he is in full health and plays squash regularly. He did warn me that he does get back pain sometimes, especially when travelling and sitting down (oops!) is the worst thing.
    The operation took half an hour and the disc came out in two pieces (the consultant was grinning when he came up to tell me specially after the op). he said I needed the op and had we waited it would have been far more difficult.
    The physio came to see me the day after the op and got me out of bed and gave me exercises. I slept most of the first week after the op but did my exercises every day in the few hours I was awake.
    I tried to come off the drugs after a week but the pain down my leg was just terrible. It wasn't sciatica though it was like massive muscle fatigue, where your muscles ache so badly they hurt. I also got spasms, pins and needles, you name it. The doctor told me that was quite normal and to keep moving...
    I started walking the dogs again a week after the op. my physio started properly before the staples came out.
    The consultant is very pleased with my progress, but reminds me I am still healing. My back sometimes does feel so fragile that it might snap and I get pain and fuzzy sensations in my leg, but if I keep moving and doing my stretches and exercises these go. They are worse when I lie down for a long time and when I get up in the morning I can't bend at all - takes me about half an hour of wandering around in my pyjamas before I can get dressed!!
    But its getting better everyday. I am now walking the dogs for about an hour a day and doing my exercises three times a day and I don't need painkillers at all.
    My big message to you Franki is don't be afraid to move. That is the one thing that will help your back recover. If you don't move, if you hold tension in your back then you will create a vicious circle. My disc problem was caused by my hypermobility, I still need to deal with that as well as the weakness the discectomy has created.
    So my advice is get physio asap and do it religiously, the more you move the better you will be - it does hurt to start with!! Backs are designed to bend and stretch your lumbar (although not with weight!!). Pilates is brilliant, find yourself a one to one teacher once your physio gives you the okay. Keep mobile and strong and there's no reason why you can't get your life back.
    My goal is to get back horse riding. A friend of a friend had a discectomy and six months later she was back riding cross country again (I'm too chicken to do that) but there are success stories and I wish you luck.
    Sorry if I've rambled on.
  12. UlTiMaTeZeRo

    UlTiMaTeZeRo New Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    hi just joined after reading tyour threads, I am 5 weeks post op lumbar discetomy, I had a herniated disc L4/L5 (the disc had torn and the middle of disc had come out pressing against the nerve.) I also have a small prolapse on L5/S1 and L3/L4!! also have DDD! I had the injection - did nothing-so decided to go for op-was very scared.I have a horse and used to ride up to 6 times a week(when had lots painkillers) so deciding on op was big thing but couldnt cope with the pain anymore (slept on sofa for a month as didnt want to keep hubby awake as hardly slept just cried all night!) I had the op (luckily medical ins with job) Couldnt get out of bed for 2 days as kept fainting but once that passed I was up and about, First two weeks the worst - and when stitches are due to come out very itchy and sore. But have had no painkillers now for 3 weeks, having post op physio who has now said can sit on my horse and see how i go. going back to work early in 4 weeks time (doc originally said least 3 months off due to my job - run a pub) So I would say yes there are some possible risks with op but I think its worth it I couldnt have continued with the pain and doc said if had been left longer would have got worse.
    I would say go for it - its gone well for me.
  13. Cluless

    Cluless New Member

    Nov 21, 2010
    I have decided to go-ahead with the discectomy.

    I go into the Walsall Manor Hospital this Saturday 29th March with my operation being done on Sunday.

    I believe at the moment that it is to be a full discectomy and I expect to be home by about Tuesday/Wednesday next week.

    The irony of all of this is that apart from intermittant sciatica and a slight numbness down my left leg I have hardly any pain at all. Because of this apparent lack of pain I have been 50/50 whether or not to still have the operation done, however I know that I have been taking life very easy for the last 4 months and I guess if I returned to any form of physical activity the pain would no doubt return in spadefuls!

    So, wish me luck. I have bought a new novel to read, my mp3 player is stuffed full of my favourite music, I have new slippers, and I am mentally ready for this.

    The only thing that makes me sad is that it will be some weeks before I can pick up my 18 month old baby son again, but at least in the not-too-distant future I will be back to being a very active Dad again.

    I will post again next week when I am home.
  14. Caz Caz

    Caz Caz New Member

    Dec 2, 2010
    I came out of hospital yesterday after having a microdiscectomy last Wednesday. Thank you to the replies to my worries and questions, they have reassured me a great deal. Yes, admittedly, I realise how much I really needed the operation and know that I have to take each day at a time. (sitting is much worse) Despite the lack of mobility, mentally, I feel so much better and I also know that my sciatic symptoms will clear in time, however, they are so much better than they were before.
    I have been told, and fully understand, that I may need a spinal fusion too. I have researched this and at first had doubts, but if it is needed, I accept this.
    Thank you so much Pippic on your advice, especially about pilates. A few friends have now mentioned this to me so I am definitely going to look for a good teacher when I am ready. I have also been told about a class called 'body balance' which is based upon a very similar principle.
    One thing that has also given me hope is that there are so many people who suffer with back pain and ailments and come out on top. When I was in hospital, I was surrounded by so many who had brain tumors, many cancerous, and other serious conditions. Chatting to a few, I was amazed at their positive attitude and touched with their wonderful personalities. Some received very bad news while I was there, they will always be in my thoughts. Just looking at their families concern and worry made me so upset and I realise just how lucky I am. Even if I will always have a weakness or pain, I have nothing compared to so many. Most importantly, I don't have a life threatening condition and I have my sight. It is so wonderful to be able to see my son and my family and the beautiful sights in this world.
    So thank you to you all for your advice and your experiences and I may try to log a little diary of my own on my recovery period and the different stages I encounter.
  15. Neishalahm

    Neishalahm New Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    So glad to hear it went well Franki.
    Hope to hear from Nicco88 too - hope everything is okay!!! Let us know when you pick up your little boy for the first time.

    Good luck with the recovery and keep moving, don't be scared of your back. That was what held me back to start with, I was tense in my back through fear of pain and once my physio helped me release that then its been onwards and upwards. Its that difficult balance between not doing too much and not doing to little!! I'm still very stiff when I get out of bed first thing, but once I do my exercises and stretches then I'm just a normal person again. Keep us posted on your progress, would love to hear how you both get on Do a diary Franki, even if its just so you can look back in six months time to see how far you have come.

    Also big yes to pilates, it really makes a difference, my mum suffered pain for years and I kept nagging her to do one to one pilates, she finally went for it (in desperation), last month she walked up to Machu Pichu and doesn't have that all consuming pain anymore.

    Big to Stumaz!! Good to see another rider so determined. I'm not riding yet but my aim is to go for a little pottle on my friend's plod within the next month.
    Let us know how your first sit goes????

    Glad to hear so many positive posts
  16. twlejkic

    twlejkic New Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    I had my operation on Sunday morning and it was just a massive relief to wake up and see my lovely wife looking at me. I was so scared prior to the operation and I was so happy to be able to move my legs and toes.

    But even now, I had not yet met my consultant that did the operation - lots of registrars and students but Mr Alo has been adsent the whole time!

    The pain after the anaesthic wore off was immeasurable. They gave me morphine but it ran out after 50mg and they did not refill the machine. But I had to keep passing water on my side during the night which took a massive pelvic push each time. By the morning my muscles were exhausted, I had no sleep, I was soaked with urine and I really felt so depressed. The physio had me out of bed really fast and started me on my excercises but I was just totally worn out. No body had properly discussed the op with me and I felt like they were rushing me out.

    To make matters worse the man in the next bed had his op 7 months ago and now he cannot walk properly because of an infection!!

    I got home yesterday and I am trying to get about, trying to wash etc but it is so difficult. Although I did manage to get some sleep last night i still feel exhausted.

    My back feels very fragile, I get muscle spasms and I need to get some confidence that I am not actually going to break!

    The sctiatica is gone, but at the moment what I am experiencing is just as unbearable. I will post again in the next few days.
  17. Vodozelffeads

    Vodozelffeads New Member

    Jan 29, 2011
    God that sounds awful Nico.
    What drugs have they given you to take? I was given Tramadol, diazapam, voltarol and paracetamol when I was discharged which meant I didn't really feel any pain. If they haven't given you enough drugs see if your wife can call your GP and get them. I was told if I ran out I could get more from my GP. They'll knock you out something chronic, but I just slept for most of the first week and felt so much better for it.
    You've probably got huge muscle fatigue where the sciatica was. I had that when I tried to cut down my drugs too early. It was an ache that reduced me to tears it was so bad. But its normal and its a good sign that the nerve has released its grip.
    Also perhaps lie in bed and practice deep breathing. Try to imagine each muscle relaxing. My back still feels fragile in the morning but it gets better every week. Its not your back thats causing this its the tight muscles around it which are spasming and holding it tight. The important thing is to do your exercises and not be too scared.

    But check your drugs, you need to be out of pain so you can sleep and your body can heal.

    I hope that helps but post if you need anything....
  18. Plauncveddell

    Plauncveddell New Member

    Jan 29, 2011
    The only drugs I have been given are CoCodamol. I refused the Tramadol because I hate the side affects and they just dont work for me.

    I managed to get some breakfast, wash and made the right decision to change beds. I dont think our IKEA low bed did me any good last night. I did my physio on our spare bed this morning and I have just woken up after 2 hours good sleep. I am going to have some soup and go back to bed in a bit.

    Feeling a bit happier and a tiny bit more mobile now. I think its the first hours after lying down that are going to be the worst.

    Still so nice to be at home. My wife has taken little JJ to nursery and I am going to get some more rest. I will post again tomorrow.
  19. Noneofyour

    Noneofyour Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    I slept on the spare bed last night and with some effort I found that by this morning I could actually roll over onto either side, albeit with some degree of pain. This meant I now have 3 sleeping positions although i still feel so much better after a few hours just lying on my back.
    This afternoon I am feeling quite a bit better. I have been able to wash my hair, do a little work on my pc (i am connected to my work pc via the internet) and I have just woken up after my late morning sleep. I am starting to feel a bit better in myself.

    My back is still very stiff but I think I am more aware now of the wound itself rather than back pain, which I suppose is a good sign.

    My sides and stomach muscles dont feel so strained today but I am still unable to sit for more than 20 minutes without feeling pain and becoming very stiff.

    And I think just being able to connect to the outside worlds and work etc is a great help. I realise that I am going to be stuck here for a few weeks yet but already I can see a glimmer of hope. I will still takes things very slowly and do as I am told - 3 x physio, some walking and lots of rest!
  20. Joshua Mcclelland

    Joshua Mcclelland New Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    I cannot believe how well I feel today. Ok still tired, dizzy and with a slight amount of pain, but I have been able to tie my shoelaces and actually leave the house! Went to the local shop - took a little while and I felt a bit wobbly but it felt like a major achievement.

    I realy feel like I am on the mend - there is NO SCIATICA..!!!!!!!!

    Another 10 days and the staples come out - hurrah!!

    Feeling good today - still a massive hill to climb yet but I am sure that I will get there.

    I cannot believe that only a few days ago I was genuinely suicidal and I totally regretted what I had done. Yet today I feel like I may just about survive this. There will be some downers to all of this - like being in a separate bed to my lovely wife, or not being able to pick up my beautiful 18 month old son for a few more weeks, but I am alive, healthy and on the mend. I now have my life to look forward to and I cannot now say anything negative about the NHS or the staff at the Manor Hospital. Everything was done for a purpose and I am now genuinely happy again.

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