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L4-S1-L5 micodiscectomy surgery x2

Started by rbr651 on 04/10/2010 6:32am

So I had my second microdisc L4-S1-L5 in Dec, I previously had a cortisone injection, oral steroids and PT prior to the first surgery. I had no relief after the surgery and soon started back through the gambit of treatments again, soon coming full circle back to the surgery. According to the my surgeon I had a very "minor" reherniation, that was causing pinched nerve pain down my leg. I got the feeling that he really didn't believe that I still had nerve pain. I am now almost 5 months out of my last surgery and just stopped taking all pain meds, and to my suprise I once again/ or still have pinched nerve pain down by butt, through the hip and down to my left knee. I was refered to a pain specialist, who told me I needed to strengthen my core. Now I was a competative triathlete just over a year ago, I'm also in the military and was/am in descent shape. I'm very frustrated and don't know what to do at this point. My surgeon is the only back and spine specialist in the area. Has anyone has a similar experience, maybe there was something else that was leading to their pinched nerve pain? Since I did have an initial, sizable herniation, it was the obvious cause. But now that the pain persists I personally think there could be a different cause. One quick thing to add that I had forgot. My surgeon had never used the term "degenerative disk" while talking to me, however the pain specialist refered to my condition as degenerative disk. Is this a generic term used or is it a specific condition? Thank you.

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Discs and areas of surgery are referred to by the vertebrae on either side of them. There is a L4-5 disc and a L5-S1 disc. So I am assuming that is what you are saying..that you had those 2 discs operated on. Or did you have the L4-5 disc operated on 2 x or did you have the L5-S1 disc operated on 2x?
Or did you have the L4-5 disc operated on first and then more recently the L5-S1 disc operation?
Or vice versa?

There could be so many reasons why you are still having problems. You could be resuming the same activities that caused the pain in the first place. You have to be a detective on that and see what you do that brings on the pain and what relieves it. And then stop doing what brings on the pain!t would be really great if you could make an appointment at a teaching hospital or highly recommended Spine center. Take a few days and just do it. (of course driving can be so painful) You have to have an expert.

Everyone's disc degenerate with age, but some of us have a genetic predisposition to it. Despite being super athletic, I have had my first surgery at 27 and am still having them at 64! My discs (and my brothers and sisters and mother) just rapidly degenerate and as they break apart, pieces press on to the spinal cord or nerves etc. Every on of my 11 surgeries (or maybe 12--I forget) has been different. Some health discs herniate as a result of an injury. If yours was not because of an injury with a distinct bulge then the PT probably just assumes it is DDD because of the fact that you have had 2 surgeries and thinks that the degenerating parts of the disc are what caused the problem by pressing on your nerve.

Sometimes if there are repetitive surgeries in the same area, the doctor might recommend a fusion to stabalize the spine after removing the entire degenerating disc. This is one of the reasons why you need to get a 2nd/3rd opinion from a notable Spine center.
But whatever you can do to avoid more surgery is worth the effort.

My pain nearly always lingers on also.. for at least a year. My doctors constantly remind me that it takes 2 things to cause the pain. Pressure and irritation on/of the nerve. If there has been pressure on the nerve for a long time, it has irritated the nerve and will take the nerve a while to heal even after the offending disc has been removed. It is like a sore only nerves take a really long time to heal sometimes. I always think of the person who has had their foot or leg removed but still complains of pain in that area...phantom pain. So even though the offending limb or disc has been removed, it still sends pain messages to the brain because (among other things) there is irritation of that nerve.

If you have weakness or numbness etc of course you need to seek more advice. But if it is pain, more time may have to go by for healing. The healing from the surgery has occurred, but the nerve needs more time sometimes. I always think (don't know for a fact) that people who have an acute injury and then have surgery get better right away because they don't have that long time rubbing and irritation of nerve..

What I do know for a fact is that every surgery is different, and every person is different. I have had as many different recovery scenarios as I have had spine surgeries. The light in the tunnel has been unseeable sometimes, and other times within sight. Don't feel wimpy because you are taking a longer time to heal. You have enough on your hands just dealing with the pain.

Sounds like you are in good shape and will eventually feel better. One thing for sure is that the core exercises will be a good thing either way.

Good luck.. hang in there.


I am going through the same thing. I had my first surgery may 18th 2010. Still in pain. Doctor says I need another surgery. I walk with a cane, can't work, but he says I can. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who is like this. I fell down a flight of stairs about 5 years ago. My primary doctor kept ignoring my complains about my back & leg pain, so it took me over a year to get to see a back surgery, right away he told me I needed surgery. Why they always say its not so bad, so be on me. I'm in a lot of pain every day. I first surgery hurt bad. now he says I need another one, I'm not looking forward to it. He won't even take me out of work. I can hardly do anything without falling over. I don't think strengthen my core is going to do any good either. but he never said anything about that. It's just sick the way doctors treat us...