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Wed Jul 16, 2014, 09:14 AM

Sciatic pain after microdiscectomy

Someone talk me down please. Freaking out. The backstory may not be important, but I'm going to give it anyway. If you don't like long stories, you may want to skip to the end or ignore.

Have struggled with lower back pain for 9 years due to a degenerative disc. It was generally mild and manageable with PT, pilates and daily small dose of pain meds.

On 5/15, woke up with severe right leg pain, very new sensation. Started at buttock and went all the way to my toes. Assumed I herniated a disc. Tried to plow through it with hot showers, stretching, massage, all my usual techniques. It got worse. By the end of May, two weeks later, I could barely drive and couldn't bend the leg without excruciating pain. Realized it was time to hand off the ball to a professional.

The whole month of June was spent fighting with the insurance company. I alternated between not eating or eating and throwing up from pain. Dropped 20 pounds. Tripled my intake of painkillers, from 5 mg to 15-20 mg of oxycodone, just to make it through the day at work. The only position that would give relief was standing straight up, which ensured by noon the one leg was still on fire and both were worn out from standing (I get to work at 6a). Anyway, the insurance company didn't want to approve an MRI, fought me tooth and nail. My beautiful wife absolutely went to bat and ended up standing in another doctor's office, refusing to leave until they got the insurance company on the phone and made it happen. Then they didn't want to give me the result(!) until I reviewed it with their specialist, who was on vacation and would be back in two weeks. My wife staged a sit-in (stand-in?) there as well until they released the records, which I took back to my neurosurgeon for review. We went over it together.

Yes, the L5-S1 disc was badly herniated. We tried a nerve block first after fighting the insurance company for approval. It didn't work at all. Three days later I was still rolling around on the floor and clutching at my leg and crying like an infant, which of course scared the children. I still feel badly about that. I begged them to go to plan B, the microdiscectomy. Surprisingly, the insurance company breezed it right through, I still can't figure that out after they were such assholes about the MRI and nerve block.

Had the microdiscectomy the morning of the July 8th. Felt like a million bucks as I came out of surgery, but guarded my optimism as I assumed that the drugs from surgery would mask any pain. When the 9th and 10th rolled by without pain I actually cried with joy (I am a crier, it seems).

The next several days I was without pain and was a good rehab patient, mostly because I was terrified of going back to that dark place I had just emerged from. On the 15th, woke up with my leg and foot hurting again in a similar fashion but on a smaller scale. I panicked because I figured it was coming back. Logged in to some support groups for post-microdiscectomy sciatic pain and to my pleasure, almost every single person said this was normal due to scar tissue and the resultant inflammation. By the time I went to bed it felt good again so I was further encouraged.

Today, the 16th, woke up and it was hurting again. Same way, smaller scale, but more than yesterday. So I'm panicking a bit. Doc said walk as much and far as I can so I walked about a mile this morning. I think it's loosening up a little.

I'm not asking for medical advice. This post has two purposes. One, it makes me feel better to articulate my thoughts, however badly-composed and haphazard. Secondly, I just want to know if anyone has been through sciatic pain and the microdiscectomy procedure, and if they experienced the recurring rollercoaster of pain after the surgery.

Anyway, thank you for reading if you made it this far, and I hope everyone here is doing well.

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Sciatic pain after microdiscectomy (Original post)
reflection Jul 2014 OP
LibGranny Jul 2014 #1
reflection Jul 2014 #3
reflection Jul 2014 #7
brer cat Jul 2014 #12
reflection Jul 2014 #13
reflection Aug 2014 #14
reflection Jul 2014 #8
LibGranny Jul 2014 #9
reflection Jul 2014 #10
LibGranny Jul 2014 #11
libodem Jul 2014 #2
reflection Jul 2014 #4
libodem Jul 2014 #5
reflection Jul 2014 #6
Post removed Aug 2014 #15
LineNew Reply .
Chloejade Oct 2015 #16
reflection Oct 2015 #17
Bearnegonsott Mar 2016 #18
reflection Mar 2016 #19
gjc1544 May 2016 #20
reflection May 2016 #21
ktv89 Nov 2016 #22
Cattledog Apr 2017 #23

Response to reflection (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 11:19 AM

1. I hope your recovery is complete and leaves you pain free! I too have sciatic pain and a

herniated disk but I could not do the MRI (I'm VERY claustrophobic), plus, I knew that would lead to surgery. I've had more surgeries than I care to articulate but I didn't want another and I've never known anyone who has had that surgery. I did physical therapy daily for about 3 weeks and that helped tremendously and I walk 3 miles every day. I at first attributed my pain and stiffness to old age (LOL) but now I know it's more than that! I'm very anxious to hear in a later post if your surgery and subsequent recovery were worth it! Best of luck to you!

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Response to LibGranny (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 11:35 AM

3. I hope somehow you are able to eventually leave the pain behind.

Last edited Wed Jul 16, 2014, 03:23 PM - Edit history (1)

As for the MRI, they do have open-air scanners. Not in every city, but they are around. We are fortunate in Memphis here to have two. As backwards as Memphis is it's a great medical town.

For the longest time, I was like you and would tell the doc, anything but cutting. Don't cut me. By the end of it I was bawling and begging for him to cut me. The day after the surgery he called to see how I was doing and I said "I'm a new man! If I weren't heterosexual and married I would commit unspeakable, illegal acts with you." He laughed so hard I thought he would herniate his own disc.

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Response to LibGranny (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 04:12 PM

7. update

I told my surgeon about my residual pain and the recurring charley horses. He recommended neurontin (sp), generic name gabapentin. Night and day. Charley horses are gone, morning pain is much less. This drug, so far, is proving to be a valuable weapon in my arsenal, much more so than the codiene-based painkillers. Apparently gabapentin is specifically geared toward nerve pain. I'm a believer. Thought I'd share this info with everyone. Hope you are all doing well or as well as can be expected.

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Response to reflection (Reply #7)

Thu Jul 24, 2014, 07:50 PM

12. I had a diskectomy and L4-S1 fusion 18 months ago.

Neurontin is now my best friend. I have no idea what is typical but my experience has been that both the frequency and area of nerve pain have been steadily reduced. Where I once had excruciating pain from my thigh to my ankle every night, now I have small spots of pain about every two weeks. I only take one neurontin when the pain starts and within about 10 minutes the pain is gone for another couple of weeks.

I believe that the pain is from nerve damage due to the surgery, and it has been gradually healing. I hope that your residual pain will decrease and end at some point too.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #12)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 08:52 AM

13. The mornings are still painful,

but I am walking 3-4 miles a day, spaced out in 2+ intervals, and by the end of the day, it's all good. A little neurontin does help tremendously in the morning. I hope I do not develop some sort of tolerance to it, it's very nice to have a drug at hand that does its job without turning me into a euphoric maniac or a drooling zombie.

I was told yesterday by the physician that I had 90% of my disc left, that what he snipped was actually the stuff inside that squirted out. Gross. He did say I had an 8% chance of re-herniating (strange %age) but if I did, it was fusion time. If it comes to that, I may lean on you for advice, as the only other person I know that had fusion done is a Type-A manly fuckwit who is to the right of Hitler, and he'll just say something like "I was going 800-lb bench presses the next day, but you liberal types are frail." He never misses a chance to exaggerate or attempt a pathetic jab.

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Response to reflection (Reply #13)

Thu Aug 21, 2014, 05:35 PM

14. update: 3 weeks later,

with walking once a day, and doing floor exercises, the pain is largely gone. I am still stiff in the mornings but the pain is mitigated to a great degree. I still don't feel structurally as sound as I did before the blowout, twisting to look at things to the side or behind me can still be adventurous, but progress is being made. I don't even take the gabapentin anymore. It's sitting next to the percocets on the shelf in case of another episode.

I do notice that sitting in a chair will make the back hurt though, unless I sit on a donut. So I sit on a donut and deal with the occasional jokes from my co-workers. Que sera sera.

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Response to LibGranny (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 07:52 AM

8. An idle thought...

have you ever considered letting them knock you out for the MRI so your claustrophobia wouldn't interfere? Just wondering.

I'm still walking long distances every day, still have pain the morning that is mostly subsided by night. At this point (check back later, I know it's still very early) I'd recommend the surgery. Night and day from a pain standpoint. from a 10 to maybe a 3 or 4, and hopefully some PT can get it down even more.

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Response to reflection (Reply #8)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 09:13 AM

9. I'd gladly let them put me out with anesthesia but they won't! My doctor prescribed ONE

valium tablet but since I opted not to do the MRI, I still have the valium! I still walk about 3 miles daily and am not in daily pain but I do have trouble tying my shoe on that leg!

Was your surgery laser?

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Response to LibGranny (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 09:46 AM

10. One valium tablet wouldn't have done anything for me when I was needing my MRI.

They would have had to prescibe a lot more than that.

I guess I understand them having to keep you awake, since I remember they bark out instructions from time to time.

I'm ashamed to say I don't know if my surgery was laser or not. I've got a follow up appointment with him on the 29th to discuss the state of things. I'll try to remember to ask and then let you know.

You may want to google around and see where open-air MRIs are available. I checked your profile and it doesn't have your location listed, but here's a tool you can use to see if one is close by.

http://open-mri-inc.com/locations



on edit: Not sure how accurate that search engine is. I know there are two in Memphis. So perhaps this search engine is just for a particular company's machines. Maybe just talk to your doctor. He/she should know where they are.

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Response to reflection (Reply #10)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 12:14 PM

11. There is an open MRI location in my town and I went to talk to them and check out their

machine but they told me my face would still be covered and that it would take longer.

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Response to reflection (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 11:25 AM

2. Yes, I have

My lower back injury was at L5-S1, too. I did very well after it. I still had a tingling sensation right around the ball of the ball and socket of my left hip.
I was up and shuffling around the hospital right away.

I had my neck fused the next year.

After about 6 months at work both my legs started 'buzzing'. All the long hours standing on concrete floors was ruining my body. I was taken off work. Had another back surgery and never really recovered. I had a dural tear happen to me when I stood at the bed side.
The symptoms to my left leg sound about like what you went through. I couldn't straighten it out. I had to keep it curled. I had migraine like head ache from the spinal fluid leak. 3 days I could move without puking. The PCA or the pain patch didn't touch it. I probably needed a blood patch but I hurt too much to make decisions. When he said they could go back in I could not stand the idea. So I suffered.

I had to fail at another job before I was legally declared disabled. It took a couple of years of fighting to be approved.


I'm quite a mess. I can surely empathize with your pain. I don't know that nerve pain responds that we'll to narcotics. I have a really short list of meds that I'm not allergic to or that make my stomach roll until I get sick. I hope you continue to heal.

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Response to libodem (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 11:38 AM

4. Although your story doesn't give me hope

it is an honest accounting, which is what I wanted. I'm sorry things devolved for you. Don't know what a PCA or blood patch are. I need to do some googling. Best wishes to you - I'll be thinking of you as I plow through this obstacle.

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Response to reflection (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 02:57 PM

5. Patient Administered Analgesia

It's a pump hooked to your iv that delivers a dose of narcotic, measured dose, timed delivery. I hate it it would knock me out and I'd wake up hurting.

A blood patch is I think just that. I first heard about them when you get all the warnings that go with epidural steroid injections. Your instructions for home care are to come back if you end up with 'the worst headache you have ever had in your life' and they would place a blood patch at the injection site. Any disturbance in your cerebral spinal fluid makes you feel like you have meningitis.

Chronic pain is a bitch. I bent over yesterday to pick up something and felt my ribs move out of place. I could barely turn my head or take a deep breath. I had to go to the chiropractor. My good hip is killing me from lifting something during this move.

I just have to get to a one level home while I can still walk.

I have a bit of chronic depression too, I can't tolerate the Prozac(ssri) drugs. So I come off like a Debbie Downer sometimes.

I wish you luck. Really research any further surgery. My friend had one where the went in from the front and then flipped her over and went in through her back. She has done really well and lives a nice normal life.

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Response to libodem (Reply #5)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 03:20 PM

6. Thank you for the education.

Although I understand chronic pain, it was manageable for years, and so the depression was either on the periphery or non-existent. But the 8-10 week period where I was just in gut-wrenching pain changed the paradigm. I sunk into a very dark place, there were even moments I wished I was single without kids so I could just swallow one of my bottles of pills and not leave misery in my wake. And from what you're describing, what I dealt with wasn't even in the same zip code as what you're up against. I am so sorry, and humbled that you seem to be dealing with it better than I. I think it was my fear of the "new normal," that I'd never be without pain, unable to sit, bend over, or live normally, that caused me to react so badly.

I told my wife my feelings, and I said "you have been such a help to me, it makes me sad that there are single people who are dirt poor and/or have no support group that have to deal with stuff like this, how on earth do they cope." She said "they self-medicate with anything they can get their hands on, they get worse, and they die." I suppose she's right. If I didn't have pain meds during that period, would I have stolen some given an opportunity? I'm not sure but I think I know the answer and it shames me. We need health care for *everyone*.

Thanks again for explaining those two things. Sending healing vibes and positive thoughts your way.

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Response to reflection (Original post)


Response to reflection (Original post)

Sun Oct 18, 2015, 05:29 PM

16. .

I completely understand where you are coming from. I have been dealing with severe sciatica pain for about two years now. After trying every alternative treatment there is I was finally referred to a orthopedic surgeon. As soon as he looked at my mri he recommended a microdiscectomy. It's now been two weeks since my surgery and I am still feeling the sharp pains in my hip and shooting down my left leg. I cant believe after all I have gone through I am still in pain. I am really hoping a little walking will loosen this up and stop the leg pain. I never imagined I would have to go through all this at 23 years old. I have my follow up apt with my surgeon this week so I am hoping for some good news.
I hope your pain subsides and I wish you a speedy recover. I know is pain isn't a joke.

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Response to Chloejade (Reply #16)

Sun Oct 18, 2015, 05:46 PM

17. It's been awhile since I posted that.

The pain only manifests on a much smaller scale now, and I find that walking makes it go away. I walk 2-3 miles every night now, and in addition to working out the kinks, it relaxes me a lot. I'm not a medical professional, but I can say consistent walking has led me to a good place. Good luck, trust me when I say I know what you're going through. Keep us posted.

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Response to reflection (Original post)

Sun Mar 13, 2016, 09:01 AM

18. Microdisectomy failed

I just wanted to let you know that your story is exactly the same as mine. It's March 13th, 2016. I had surgery on November 18th, 2015. My pain came back on January 20th, 2016. It's so excruciating now that it's affecting my mental health and my marriage. I am waiting on another MRI to see what my neurosurgeon wants to do.

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Response to Bearnegonsott (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 14, 2016, 09:40 AM

19. I'm so sorry.

Do you know if you ruptured a disc again? Were you doing anything the day of or before that might have caused it? I've had to purposefully retrain my body to approach different movements (e.g: sitting, then swiveling when getting in/out of a car.) I've also had to abandon certain training (was an advanced Tang Soo Do student and up until the accident, would spend a half-hour every night whaling on a body bag with my arms and legs, a lot of torsion. That's been replaced by an elliptical and other low impact stuff). Currently pain free and pain-med free, check back tomorrow.

I get what you're saying about it affecting your marriage. For me, it was very humbling to know that I'd reached a point where it would be tough, if not impossible to protect my family if something were to go down. The day-to-day leaning on my wife for simple tasks made me feel a lot of guilt, even though it couldn't be helped. I channeled that guilt into a double-down low-impact routine. I finally managed to leave 15 pounds and a lot of emotional baggage behind.

But that pain... I'll never forget it. It never leaves, always either tapping you on the shoulder or kicking you square in your ass, taunting you. There's nothing you can do about it. I wish I had a magic something for you that could take it away. I guess all I can say is to watch that you don't slip into a dark place. I did for a little while, and it just made things worse. Find a position that offers *some* relief a few times a day, for me it was flat on my stomach, and maintain it long it enough to relax and give your *mind* a moment to relax. The pain will be back, and waiting on you afterwards. Might as well keep it waiting as long as possible.

Positive vibes your way. PM me anytime if you ever need someone to talk to. I understand your pain.

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Response to reflection (Original post)

Tue May 17, 2016, 06:54 AM

20. my similar issues.

I had an L5/S1 MD about 17 days ago. For the first 2 weeks, I had some atrophy issues, and weak back, but all in all I was much better and my horrid leg pain was gone. All the sudden, on the evening of day 16, I stood up and felt a very very mild version of my former sciatic pain. I panicked and I assumed this mean re herniation. I immediately laid in bed and didnt want to move. I started reading forums, and almost all of them told horror stores of re herniation or problems with scar tissue. I have been careful to do my exercises, so maybe it is some scar tissue that is going to loosen up in time, I don't know.
I was very careful today (day 17) about sitting and how I laid down, and the pain remains very mild. But because of its location and similar feeling to my former sciatica I am still scared. Its good to read here that some people have had similar experiences and that with time, it continued to get better. It could just be part of the recovery process.
I am scheduled for an x-ray in 2 weeks. So I will see how I feel then. Any further advice or insight would be appreciated. I am terrifed to go back to what I had, lying on the floor crying in pain.

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Response to gjc1544 (Reply #20)

Tue May 17, 2016, 01:05 PM

21. As you can see, it's been almost 2 years since I posted that

and I am doing pretty well. If I had any advice, I'd say walk, walk, walk. There is something about that gentle, rhythmic non-torsial (is that a word?) movement that helps to calm everything down, including your nerves. Try to retrain your body not to twist in ways that were once second nature - getting in/out of a car, turning around to see who called your name, etc. Try to move more slowly and rotate your whole body instead of just twisting at the waist.

Good luck. I completely understand where you are right now and it sucks. It should get better.

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Response to reflection (Original post)

Tue Nov 8, 2016, 01:39 PM

22. Best ways to mentally cope?

No matter how often I research post micro forums, I always find myself back here, as it is one of the more positive posts out there. I had my surgery August 16th after a year of literally dragging my left leg everywhere and every nonsurgical option out there. I was a senior in college at the time (22 yo at injury) so my parents told me to suck it up and get my degree first, which I am still a week away from due to a summer internship preventing my graduation date. All was well for about a month, and then the pain gradually came back. I have the same pain as before, yet now in the back, leg, and foot. Before I just had sciatic pain. I am in physical therapy but even that seems to set it off and the staff who work on me fear that there is another issue. How do you find ways to manage all that you have been through? It sounds like you are lucky, you have someone that supports your journey through all this mess and makes sure you are getting the care you need. Even though I had surgery, I have little support for my parents, specifically my mother (my mother has threatened to kick me out if I cry out in pain from a sudden nerve flare up because it "brings negative vibes to her", or from my (ex) girlfriend and friends, who all think that this is basically like a broken bone or something. Basically, I have no support system in all of this, and am having trouble seeing any positives in life as this immense pain returns. What got you through all of this in these last two years? I meditate and try to sneak in a lift every now and again (I am a stubborn meathead but know my limits now) but those are not seeming to help my rapidly declining mental state. Sorry for the long post, it just seems as though you have a strong mental outlook on life, and is something I would love to learn how to do.

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Response to reflection (Original post)

Tue Apr 18, 2017, 07:28 PM

23. I found this video may help some here.

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