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mommabear3 11-03-2012 07:14 PM

L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
I am a 42 year old busy mom who has been stopped in her tracks by sciatic pain. I have always dealt with lower back pain just accepted it as part of my life. Still mananged ok. managed with stretching, advil and tramadol as needed. but in august OUCH i felt like I had bruised my right but, went to chiropractor adjustments didnt help sent me to an md gave me shots of anti inflamatoy in my butt - relaxed my but yes but the pain in the right hip, leg and down to my back leg excrutiating. I have twins who are two and still require aidall that toddlers do. getting into the carseat, highchair, putting cloths on and diaper changes. boy/girl twins each are almost 30 pounds. finally the md ordered the mri and called me "we need to talk" I met with him we discussed the mri he sent me home with 10mg hydrocodone, soma and valterin anti inflammatory Cant take it tears my stomach up) and said bed rest. ok so im doing the bedrest thing two weeks out and its killing me and my familiy. go see the md no improvement. im referred to the neurosurgeon - after looking at the mri schedules me for surgery 11/16. competent surgeon. my options ive been told surgery or rest and hope in several month i gets better. or could try deep epidural shots. i cant take the pain meds i just lye in bed. its so depressing. i cant be in my kids life? breaks my heart. I also have an active 5 yr old and a husband god love him who has to travel for work.
Surgery is scheduled and my husband will not be traveling for two weeks. the surgeon tells me in two weeks i should be doing great. 90 % of the time surgery takes care of the pain, great! my concern and question sorry to be so long - will i be able to get back to life in two weeks after surgery? meaning doing life with toddlers x 2. What are the risks of injuring myself again?? How can I avoid twisting and pulling my lumbar region doing toddler life x 2. Any suggestions, questions for my surgeon personal experience would be so so very helpful. Thanks!

Calin 11-03-2012 07:41 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
mommabear3....first, I am so sorry you are going through this. But there are people on this board who know exacty what you are feeling...the pain, as well as the depression from the pain and not being able to be active in your family's life and needs. With that being said, is there a reason why you might not be trying more conservative treatments before surgery?

Did your MRI show a herniation? There are a couple of very active people on this board who can help you understand your MRI as well. Usually steroid injections and pysical therapy are tried first unless the surgery is for emergency reasons, such as loss of bowel or bladder function. You haven't mentioned anything like that.

I'm 59...and have struggled with severe sciatica over a period of 6 years now....but went pain free for 5 of those years, by having injections and PT. Over the last year, I've had 2 severe flare-ups...and am now only meeting with a surgeon for consultation. I am going to try to do everything I can to avoid surgery. Generally, it is a last resort. I'm hopeful that with continued PT and maybe another injection I'll pull through this episode.

If you do have the surgery, then as noted, there are a number of people here who I am sure will respond to you and give you lots of tips on preparation as well as recovery tips. While I haven't experienced that to this point, I do know that great care must be taken initially post surgery to prevent a new herniation, if that is your issue. You didn't note what the diagnosis was or what specific type of surgery you are intending.

Either way....take good care of yourself. I do understand that your little ones need you. I was a long time teacher and raised my own two by myself before becoming a consultant. Now on medical leave until I can get better enough to go back to work and welcome my first grandchild who will arrive in December. Like you...I'm so anxious to be a part of her life and be able to lift and hold her close.

Do keep posting on the board as far as your progress. Everyone benefits from success stories as well as the support offered here.

mommabear3 11-04-2012 03:54 AM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
Thanks Calin - I should have indicated that in the past I tried epidural injections and had success. this was when my mri showed mild disk herniation and mild canal narrowing without nerve root compression. this was 5 years ago. since then i was back to life! able to carry twins 27 weeks had a healthy textbook pregnancy no sciatic pian!! i did have another c section with the twins. i was really careful this time and took it very easy listened to my body and did fine. since this august with the on set of the sciatic pain i started chiro care, home therapy rest stretching ice. wearing lumbar support doing my best not to pick up the twins.
MRI indicates right L5-S1 disc extrusion on a circumferential disc protrution, causing bilateral nerve root contact and displacement as well as severe canal stenosis. the right S1 ans S2 nerve roots are most greatly affected by the disc extrution.
Surgeon said i could try another epidural injection but that is not fixing the problem! So we have opted for Surgery 11/16 thinking in two weeks ill be back to life as usually. SCARED - is this is unrealistic!! Thank you Calin maybe i should try pt and another injection? the surgeon just doesnt think it going to help. any suggestions, info experience would be so helpful! THanks!! mommabear3

Calin 11-04-2012 09:58 AM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery?? that you have offered this information, I feel like I am reading my own story. Even the 5 years with no problems. I am in the very same boat. I am meeting with a surgeon tomorrow and I'm not interested in having surgery yet however....I fear he is going to say I am not fixing the problem.

I really can't answer your question. Only you can. In my case, after 5 years of no problems and then these flare ups over the last year, I have tried injections again. I always respond and get better but then I have another episode even though I am religious about the exercises, etc. It's been a long year but I am trying not to give up hope. I am wondering sometimes if I am putting off the inevitible since I have had to be off work. But I truly wish to get better without surgery if possible...better enough anyway to have some sense of normalcy in my life.

I hope that teteri66 will respond to you. Or you might even post a thread to her because she has so much experinece and information. I'm certain she might be able to help you feel more comfortable with your decision. I think it is a very personal choice. You are younger than I am and if you trust your doctor then maybe it is the right choice for you. I have never heard anyone say 2 weeks for recovery, but everyone is different.

I hope you will continue to post here. I will be interested in how things go for you since your situation sounds so similar to mine, even the MRI results are similar.

I am not much help! But every little bit of support does help in my opinion.

teteri66 11-04-2012 02:59 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
I think you are very wise to question that you will be back to a "normal" life in two weeks. I can't think of anyone I have known, either personally or on these boards, who would be able to pick up where they were prior to injury.

If you said six weeks and then still being very careful in how much you lift and in not bending or twisting at the waist, I would say, it is within the realm of possibility.

If you were only taking care of yourself, two weeks might be realistic in terms of feeling OK, but you still would need to be very careful because it is fairly easy for the disc to reherniate, especially during the first six weeks.

After six weeks, the person can be a bit more active, but it takes a good six months for the disc to heal and toughen up to the point that it is not so vulnerable.

It is my opinion that spine surgeons tend to put on those rose-colored glasses when they describe a time-frame for recovery.

Maybe you will be among those lucky ones who breeze through the surgery without any additional problems arising, and will recover quickly. It IS possible. I just think you need to be prepared that it doesn't work that way for many people.

Discs can and do heal on their own. It really just depends on how severe the nerve compression is. If you suddenly develop muscle weakness, as in drop foot, or you lose control of bladder or bowel function, call your surgeon ASAP. This is one of the few problems that becomes a true medical emergency.

I'm happy to try to answer your questions...unfortunately, only you can make the final decision.

downdraft 11-05-2012 12:29 AM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
Hello mommabear3,
I had back surgery on Oct. 25 of this year, or about a week and a half ago. I had a ruptured disc at L5-S1, complicated by spinal stenosis in the same area. I had 2 spinal steroid epidurals the year leading up to my surgery. The epidurals gave me some relief but it was short lived. I consulted with 2 orthopedic surgeons before deciding to move forward with the surgery.

I chose Dr. Michael Macnamara, a surgeon at Vanderbilt Hospital here in Nashville. He has 20 years experience and said he performs about 50-60 laminectomies per year. Showed up for surgery at 8:30am and was in recovery by noon. Don't remember even going into the e.r. Had some tightness and pain in recovery which was quickly remedied by the nurse. Stayed the night in the hospital, was able to get up and walk to the bathroom by the next morning.

Went home at noon the day after surgery. Doctor gave me Percocet 7.5 and Zanaflex as a muscle relaxer. First week was a little uncomfortable getting in and out of bed and trying to sleep. Now at a week and a half my pain and stiffness has lessened significantly and was actually able to go see a movie this afternoon.

A couple of pieces of advice if you do have the surgery. Take laxatives to make your potty breaks easier. Have lots of pillows on your bed and sleep alone in the bed since you will probably squirm quite a bit the first week or so. Bend with your knees and not your back as much as possible when you get in and out of bed and the toilet. Trust me on that one. I would literally slide on my side with my back straight as a board when getting out of bed to avoid having to bend and then straighten my back. Walk ever hour or so for a few minutes even if its just up and down the hall.

Hope this helps if you decide to have the procedure done. So far I am doing very well and wish you the same if you go through with it.

NomoreDisc 11-05-2012 08:55 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
Mommabear3, I agree with what teteri66 said about what time frame the surgeons say for recovery. I'm having a TLIF fusion L4-L5 Nov. 27th. and the surgeon said I could go back to work in two weeks,(lite duty). When I went back to do all of the paper work, his assistant said they tell most everyone 12 weeks min.
I know yours is not a fusion but just replying to what others are saying about the recovery time.

neur O ptnt 11-15-2012 02:24 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
I have had bad back pains for almost as long as I can remember, all my jobs were very physical, a little over two years ago I began feeling a sharp pain in my left hip which continued to worsen and move down the back of my leg to the point that made sitting unbearable. I had an L4 disectomy back in 2010 and it took away about 90% of the pain, I was able to return to work after about 4 weeks. Toward the end of Aug 2012 I came down with a cold and during a bad coughing spell I felt a sharp pain in my right hip. Afraid that it too would would become as severe as my left side I went to my Dr. whom sent me in for a second M.R.I. This showed bad arthritus along with the bulging disk. Epidural shots were given which only helped the pain in my lower back. I decided to try my pain doctors next option of a neurostimulator and am on day three of the trial, not much relief. I have been off work again for 3 months and the doc tells me I may never be able to return to the work that I have been doing all my life. I also have described, to the best of my ability, my experience with the trial stimulator in another post.

mo0622 11-15-2012 08:12 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
I had an L5S1 discectomy in September of 2003. Before the surgery I had debilitating nerve pain. I couldn't even walk across a room. I woke up in tears from the pain nearly every day. I went through 6 weeks of steroid shots and physical therapy which basically did nothing before I had surgery. I was so doped up on pain meds that I was asleep most the time.
I was told I would need to take 2 weeks off work to rest and then I could slowly resume normal activity. I felt better immediately after surgery, as soon as I woke up. I did have incisional pain, and muscle spasms around the surgical site for a few days, as well as continued nerve pain, but it was like a vacation compared to what it was pre-surgery. By the end of two weeks post-surgery I was a different person. I was moving slowly but pretty much pain-free and able to go back to work. I couldn't believe it.
Here I am 9 years later and have never had a problem. Every now and then if I overdo it I will have a mild twinge of nerve pain in my leg, and I still have some mild numbness in my calf, but I was told I could probably expect that for the rest of my life. It's nothing.
I had physical therapy for a few weeks after the surgery and I feel like that really did help me in terms of strengthening my core and the muscles that support my spine. I still do most of those exercises at least a couple of times a week.
I realize from reading some of the other stories on this board that I may be in the minority here, but I wanted to share my story as well so that you will know that people do have success with this surgery.

Calin 11-16-2012 06:18 AM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
I really appreciate your post. I'm also glad you continue to do well. I am still trying to avoid surgery, because I have had success with conservative therapies....injections and exercise, but I have recently had flare-ups after 5 years of pain free. I keep the surgery as a last resort...yet I have recently considered it. I'm currently working with a certified Egoscue therapist, which is focused on muscle balance to help prevent recurrent flare-ups; rather than just treating the pain....focusing on treating the cause. I have just started but I believe it is already helping. Time will tell. I also continue the McKenzie exercises every day.

Thanks so much for sharing your success story. I'm praying I can have success without surgery.

rumbledbee 11-02-2013 02:56 PM

Re: L5-S1 Discectomy Surgery??
First of all it it absolutely pointless praying you don't need surgery, if your disc is herniated, slipped, prolapsed etc etc to such an extent it presses on your nerve and your nerve is not visable on an MRI then you will need surgery or suffer for the rest of your life that's just a simple fact!

I've had to learn this lesson the hard way and if I had been sent to the right person who could have explained the situation early on I would have saved myself facet joint injections, useless physio which made things worse and worst of all seeing an orthopedic surgeon who was more interested in appointments and steroid injections to make money of the insurance company than explain what the hell was wrong with me. It was always surgery last option.

Well 3 years on and a recommendation I went to a neurosurgeon who did another MRI (3rd one)and straight away informed me surgery must be an option. I agreed and 1 month later here I am lay in bed the day after surgery, I left hospital yesterday 3.5 hours after surgery and walked to the car for my lift, today I've been out walking (not far ) and so far so good. Yes I am ultra sensitive about bending and log roll in and out of bed as the physio taught me yesterday. Point is i think there are so many negative stories but I think there are so many bad surgeons and especially bad physios. Plus the internet tends to attract the negatives there will be thousands upon thousands of oeople who had a great experience and never thought to post as they assumed everyone has a good surgery...

Getting a good surgeon is critical I note someone prior mentioned someone did 50-60 a year yet my surgeon does 10 a week! Does to mean he is better but it is obviously his specialist skill. Either way I'm back and feeling great and can finally not worry picking up my son without thinking is that pain going to rip through my back and leg.

I think also weight plays a big part in deciding surgery but it wasn't something I had yo consider. Good luck in your decisions.

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