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L5/S1 Microdisectomy - post op journey

Hi All

3 weeks ago I had a L5/S1 Microdisectomy. Thought I would join and post my experiences so far, and also hope to get others views who have gone through similar.

My recovery so far, has been good, but slow. For the first week, I was told not to sit at all, either lie down, or at most 30 degrees raised. In terms of pain, I did not have anything major, but was just very fragile, nervous about moving too much, or bending etc. So to be honest, I did very little, but rest, and read, or listen to music. I did make sure I got up, and walked around the house as regular as I could, but it was small walks, but I guess often.

The second week, was a bit better. I began to mobilise a bit more, began to try and sit (however I could do that for long, 5/10 mins at most). I eventually got out of the house with my wife on odd occasions, and had small walks with her. In terms of driving, I was told that its different for everyone, and only to do it when you feel comfortable, but that it could be between 10-14 days. To be honest in week 2, I could not even comtemplate it at all.

And so to week 3 now. The recovery is still good, again still slow though, I started to walk more, going out each day, initially just round the corner and back, but towards the end of this week, I have now walked (just today) around 1.5 miles.  After doing that though, I have to say, I was very tired, and sore. No excessive pain to be honest, more a kind of "dull ache". In terms of the driving I have still not driven yet, although I will possibly attempt this, in the next few days.  Sitting has improved, I can now sit probably for around 15/20 mins, before it begins to become uncomfortable.

A couple of other things. 

Exercises. I have been given 3 exercises to do. I was told by my consultant to not do these, until 2nd/3rd week, and to start them very gently. I started doing these, towards the end of the 2nd week. One of the exercises I do find very difficult at the moment, and to be honest I am quite nervous about the other two, but I am determined to continue doing these each day.

The other point I wanted to make was regards to the mindset of the recovering person, and the "ups and downs" you experience. On occasions I have felt almost "guilty", for being off work, laying around, and resting. I have found that sometimes you do all the things you need to do to recover, you feel good, you almost feel like your back is 100% recovered. The slight guilt then sets in, but very quickly you then get reminded that it has not gone away, its still there. That almost kind of brings you back to normality, and the guilt you had goes away.   I hope that makes sense, and I have explained that ok ?  Would be interested to hear if anyone else has had similar kinds of feelings.\

Anyhow, enough from me. I hope the above helps others.




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  • hi chapperscobbler

    welcome to spine-health

    thanks so much for sharing your experiences and your graduated start with exercises and walking, just as your surgeon advised.  you are following instructions from the best person available and that will give you the best results possible.

    with regard to driving, be your own guide.  if you don't feel ready, do not do it.  i was told to take somebody with me on my first trip out and to make sure i could perform an emergency stop.  that way you know everybody is safe around you and you are covered with another driver, if you can't complete the drive home.  we are responsible for our actions on the road and you are doing the best thing to wait until you feel confident to achieve that.

    your longer walk will bring tiredness on, but so long as you don't get a huge spike in pain, just keep working on increasing slowly.  my physio instructed me to walk to the first lamp post on my first walk out and then to increase it.  luckily i didn't live in the country as i used to or i would have had a very long walk first walk!! 

    emotional feelings are quite normal during recovery.  the surgery site maybe small but the procedure is part of your spine that holds your whole body weight, so recovery time is very very important and essential.  only be led by your surgeon's advise and what you are capable of.  you will find that people or family may want to give you 'good' advice about their back or their friends back or things they might have read or seen.  just keep working with your surgeon's advice and seek advice from your medical team if you have any concerns or worries about your recovery.

    you may find it useful to read about other member's experiences through recovery, in surgery buddies groups.  these are under forum topics and you just need to add a comment to join in. 

    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
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  • I had this same surgery about 7 years ago. Due to my job and no limited duty options I was off of work a little over 3 months. And yes some guilt set in as I was feeling great that last month. But not being able to lift meant I still couldnt work. And this was a simple discectomy. 4 years later and I had to have fusion surgery. But this time around I planned a change of duties at my work to a desk job. So after 6 weeks I was able to go back to work.

    As I am recovering from my 3rd surgery I like to remind myself "it's not a sprint, it's a marathon"


    It's not a sprint, it's a marathon 

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