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Lumbar Surgery? Had discectomy on L5 - S1 still have nerve pain.

Started by Suno32 on 08/24/2012 10:21am

I had a discectomy for a herniated disc in August 2009. It had horrible sciatica pain down my left leg into my foot. I couldn't walk or drive. Now 3 years later I still have numbness in my left, little to no strength in that leg and nerve pain in the leg and foot. My lumbar pain is around a 5 out of 10 on a daily basis - but I have been on tramadol and gabapentin for the last 3 years. I'm functioning but I still can't sit at a desk for more than an hour, drive long distances or exercise without paying a price in pain.

My discectomy surgeon said the nerve pain would improve...it did not. Does this mean I have permanent nerve damage? I have been told I need a lumbar fusion now. My concern is I'm functioning now - although medicated - and I'm worried about the pain getting worse. The nerve pain may never get better and could get worse with a fusion surgery. After 3 years could the nerve pain improve? If I don't do the surgery could the nerve pain get worse? I would love to hear so of your stories.

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4 Responses


Hi Suno, my name is Rene, I am an orthopedic nurse that had same surgery as you, to get the answers you need please visit my blog headed IM BACK, its been 1 yr since my last blog. There you will find the answers you r looking for. I hope they can help you. If u need any help deciphering your MRIs ( mumbo jumbo ) id b happy to try and help there also. best of luck to your recovery, RENE


Hi, Rene,
I'm trying to get off my narcotic meds following L-5 C-1 disectomy. I can't stand up without them. Can you tell me a little about gabapentin? I have some a tried it a couple of times but it didn't seem to work. Did you have to give it time, or did you see immediate results? Do you take it during the day or a night? Thanks! Randy


hi randy and rene its been almost 10 months since my surgery L1 thr L4 fusion and 8 screws and rods. the only prob i have is some muscle pain. comes and goes. I hope that randys pain goes away for ya good luck. walking really helps me.


To Sun032: I had a lam. on L-5 S-1, which immediately doubled the pain. Ultimately, I had the fusion, which removed 90% of my right leg pain. But for me there were complicatons. I immediately felt LEFT hip pain, which intensified daily. It turns out that the surgeon had misplaced a pedicle screw which went into the nerve canal. However, if that HADN'T happened, I would have been happy. But there are risks.

For me, I only had fusions b/c I was in such intense pain and on narcotics 24 hours per day, that my quality of life had diminished to the point in which I finally said let's do it. I can't live this way. I'm talking torture pain here--suicidal thoughts. I was approaching my breaking point and simply had to take the next step surgically.

Another point. I have disc disease and have 4 cervical levels fused. My surgeon always tells me that there is a 100% chance of the next level ruputuring, due to having to handle the added stress., after having a fusion. So once you open the can of worms, there's no going back.

If I were in your situaton, on non-narcotic pain meds only, I would be doing cartwheels.

Good luck!