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L4-5 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy Surgery -

Hi Everyone,

Lately I've been reading through the forums, specifically on surgery recoveries from Microdiscetomy's and am beginning to have second thoughts.

Long story short, i injured my back 5 years ago doing deadlifts at the gym.  I have been dealing with severe sciatica pain ever since.  Over time it moved from my lower back down into my left leg and finally into my ankle.  The pain was so bad that i could barely put on my underwear and or socks. At one point, leaning forward to brush my teeth over the sink was awful pain. I couldn't sit in class when i was in college, i actually had to drop my morning classes due to the pain, ache, and tightness i would feel in my hamstring.  I would rate the pain I've lived with over the years as a 8-9/10, it would break me down some days, but my stubbornness would push through.  I didn't let it stop me from going to the gym either, i actually competed at one point with the pain.  I continued to snowboard as well each year, up until recently.  

Back in November i was doing legs at the gym (Monday), Tuesday went in and got my acupuncture, which had helped me the most out of anything i had tried.  My mom had actually pushed me to it and finally i caved and decided to give it a go, it was the best decision of my life. My pain had gone from 7/10 to 2/10 over the 3 months of consistent acupuncture.  My mind was blown away from it.  On Wednesday morning i woke up and started to walk to the bathroom to start to get ready for work (4:30am) and then just hit the floor in the most pain i have ever been in, in my life.  911 pain, and i have a HIGH tolerance to pain from the last 5 years. I had to yell for the girlfriend to get up, i was legitimately terrified and did not know what to do.  It took me 15 minutes to push through the pain and crawl back to the edge of the bed where i propped myself up, shaking and trembling. She grabbed me 800mg of ibuprofen which i took and waited it out before i went into work.  Driving was rough, walking around at work was rough (I work in an office, at a computer, and can stand all day if needed).  I made it through work, taking baby setps everywhere i went and i could notice my legs shaking as i stood still sometimes.  

Over the next couple days the pain continued to decrease, however once it completely went away and i mean 100% pain free with zero sciatica pain, my 4th &5th toes in my left leg where completely numb, along with the side of my foot, my ankle and my hamstring.  I also can no longer stand on my tippy toes with my left leg and couldn't flex my calf what so ever.  I've experienced numbness, tingling, and i had already partially lost feeling in my hamstring, but never went 100% numb like this and 20% strength in my calf/foot, if that.  I can press my clutch in on my car, i can point my foot just fine, however i cannot walk up stairs very well or run.  Sitting is completely fine, bending over to put on my socks is now pain free, i now sleep through the night without any pain.  There was a 9 month period where i couldn't sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time.  I would wake up and have to take ibuprofen to fall back asleep due to the pain.

This is when i knew i had to go in.  I was finally granted an MRI from my insurance and low and behold, L4-5 L5-S1 herniated discs and the doctor (Orthopedic Surgery) and the best in my area for that matter, says i need a noninvasive microdiscetomy.  I was quick to say lets do it and get me fixed.  I am now 2 weeks out for surgery, just got my blood work done, and have started reading into recovery timelines etc.  I will admit i assumed since its such a small incision that recovery would be a breeze, but after reading all the threads in this forum, I'm honestly contemplating opting out of surgery and living with the lack of strength and feeling in my foot to be pain free and to be able to sit, ride a bike, lift weights, pain free.  I may not be able to run, or do squats at the gym anymore, but at least i have zero pain.  At least that is my rational right now. 

I'm honestly lost in what to do.  I just made an appointment with my doctor to speak to him more about the surgery and what to expect for life after it.  I am an extremely active person, i snowboard, lift weights, im building a motorcycle which i would like to ride.  Without this surgery i would still be able to do all of that, with this surgery i have a strong feeling that i could be in pain the rest of my life.

The Doctor said that numbness and strength returning is uncertain during my first consultation with him.

I don't know what to do at this point, I can't be out of work for months on months, that is not an option i am willing to gamble with.  I would rather not walk right, then to lose everything and go into debt.

I guess the reason for this post is to hear from other opinions on people who have gone through surgery or avoided it.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  I have an appointment with my Doctor to discuss my concerns on April 10th.

I appologize is this post is information overload and all over 



  • HI,

    I am now 8 weeks post surgery and doing pretty good. I had leg pain that was awful and that is pretty much gone. My back pain in one area at time flares up but very bearable. Have not taken Motrin in about 2 weeks!!!  I always think that I should have no pain at all and that's not the case. I have requested my Dr. to do another mri just because i do manuel labor for a job and want to make sure all is well.... Good luck I think I would opt to do this surgery again. Pain is about a level 1today:) 

  • Did your doctor tell you that you will be out of work for months after the surgery or you assumed it yourself?

    I had L4-L5 and L5-S1 Microdiscectomy, Laminectomy and foraminotomy on 19th Feb and I joined work (desk job for now) on 26th Feb i.e. one week after the surgery. And I have been going to work full time regularly since then. I am in my 7th week of recovery process now. My doctor told me that I can do whatever I like after 4-5 months but for now no bending, lifting, twisting and sitting continuously for long. I asked him whether I can pursue competitive sports after 6 months and he said yes. I am 25 years old. 

    I told you all this not to convince you to get a surgery done but to help you overcome your fear of a life change after surgery. I panicked before my surgery too but I am pretty satisfied with the results so far. Try to avoid surgery as long as possible but don't panic if you have no other option left. I had to get a surgery done as I was bed ridden for almost 2 months and my symptoms were not getting any better. 

    Keep us posted about your recovery.

    Good luck !! :)

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  • Thank you two for the responses.  I stayed up quite late last night watching recovery videos on youtube which have made me feel a lot better about everything as well as your posts.

    I go in for my PCP to clear me in an hour.  As much as i am scared to have surgery, i am also extremely scared i will have foot drop for the rest of my life or that it will only continue to get worse.

    I will update this thread on the 10th when i meet with my doctor and or if i go through with the surgery, i will post up-dates daily.  (I will most likely do the surgery)

    I'm really interested to hear from someone who has what we had, that developed foot drop and now has no pain in their leg.  I had extreme pain for 5 years, then it progressed into completely numb but no pain.  

  • Also, the doctor told me he would not want me returning to work in under 2 weeks.  Said i will have to be cleared by him to return.

  • I've been cleared by my PCP for surgery.

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  • hi rymaggi

    welcome to spine-health

    if you need further information about surgery outcomes, you could visit surgery buddies group and look at past groups for surgery and outcomes.

    the main thing to consider here is how this is going to affect your nerve long term.  if you are still having doubts maybe ask your surgeon what would happen to your trapped nerve if you did not have surgery.  this will give you all the options for you to consider.

     please update us on your surgery date if you are going ahead with it so we can support you through that.  you can add your date to the current surgery group to help with that as well.

    i have added two links below to help new members with information and these also contain the forum rules.  there is lots of material to research on spine-health that will give you the power of knowledge.

    welcome to spine health




    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
  • Hi AJGormit, thank you for your post.  I will check out that forum thread.  So far i am going ahead with surgery and it is April 13th.  

  • rymaggirrymaggi Posts: 27
    edited 04/08/2018 - 7:07 PM

    I've been doing a lot of reading.  And the one thing i keep asking myself is if i really need this surgery and what if my numbness was caused by something else?  Prior to that November incident, where i fell to the ground in immobilizing pain, i was receiving acupuncture which had taken away 80% of my sciatica pain.  

    On Monday, week of the incident that sent me to finally seek medical attention, i went to the gym.  I did squats, lunges, hack squats, etc.  It was essentially leg day, but with light weight, kind of, i did push it a bit.  

    Tuesday, legs sore, i went to get my acupuncture done, everything was fine until, he inserted one needle into the center of my calf and it felt like he hit a nerve.  It sent a shocking pain down my calf and into my toes and then went away.  It hurt extremely bad, bad enough for me to jolt and say something.

    The next day, Wednesday, is when i hit the floor in the morning in "911 pain".  By Friday/Saturday my sciatica pain and pain from Wednesday was completely gone 100%, but i was left with a numb left side of left foot, ankle, hamstring, and i cant flex my lower left glute or calf.

    My question is, is my numbness and foot drop a direct result of acupuncture?  While also having sciatica from 2 herniated discs in my back?  I keep asking myself, why am i getting surgery?  I'm not necessarily in pain anymore, but instead I've lost motor function in my left foot and walking is a pain now.  If i get the Microdiscectomy, will my numbness go away?  My Orthopedic Surgeon said that is uncertain and i have a decent chance at strength returning.  Whats the point of surgery if 1. My pain returns,  and 2. my numbness does not go away, no strength returns and I am not able to stand on my tippy toes?  

    A study i found online said that patients that saw recovery from foot drop underwent surgery within 1.1 weeks of experiencing foot drop.  I've had a mild case of it since November.  I can stand on my heels and press down with about 20% strength, but cannot pick myself up off the ground.

    Having a hard time swallowing the surgery pill right now.

  • Hi again rymaggi

    One thing I would suggest, to clear up your concern about cause of nerve damage, is to ask your doctor tomorrow.  He should be able to discuss what could cause that sort of numbness in those areas and help you with your worries about that and the acupuncture.

    The longer a nerve is compromised, the more chance of further damage.  I had to wait a long time for my surgery and I have been left permanent numbness from L5-S1 severe herniation, that displaced my nerve.  I do not have drop foot now and I can stand on tip toe as well.

    Good luck tomorrow and please update.




    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
  • Hi AJ,

    Yea, i plan to run it past him today.  I also have a list of about 25 questions i want to ask him about the procedure and everything really...

    I wouldn't be too upset if numbness didn't go away, I'm really just concerned about the strength returning so that i can walk like a normal person again.

    My Pre-Op meeting is today at 3pm PT.

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