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Back surgery what to expect

Hi I’m new to the group I have been I have a herniated disc L5 S1 sitting on the root of the nerve. I have been in pain since October. I had an injection and it didn’t help so now they want to do surgery. They would shave the part of the disc that is hitting the nerve. I’m scared to death. I am a runner and very active. Has anyone had this done?? How are you feeling now?? They said recovery would be 4 to 6 weeks. How did you feel after the surgery?? Sorry for all the questions I am just so scared. Thank you in advance for your help. 



  • challengercchallenger Posts: 1,259
    edited 07/10/2019 - 3:35 PM

    soccermom1- Everybody's recovery is different I had T12-L1 surgery a little over 6 weeks ago and am just now starting to feel relief, however I had surgery on L5 several years ago and felt relief almost instantly, you have a lot of things going for you, as you stated you are very active and probably in pretty good shape, that is a very good thing. Follow your doctor's instructions as far as walking and be patient, patience is the most important thing in your recovery, don't try to do too much too soon. Good luck with your surgery and keep us posted 

    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • Challenger thank you for your kind words and encouragement. That makes me feel better. I will keep everyone posted! I’m glad I found this group!!! I will take it slow and be patient!! 

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  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,518

    Spinal surgery is a very personal matter.  Its something that your doctor has to be 100% convinced of as well as you and your family.  
    Its normal to be scared about the idea of surgery.  I've always felt the more you know about the condition, the better you will feel.

    Take a look at these sets of medical articles

    All about Back and Neck surgery

    Getting Ready for Surgery

    Important actions to take before you leave the hospital

    Recovery, the most important phase - Patience

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 995
    edited 01/09/2019 - 4:30 PM


    Everybody gets scared prior to surgery... that perfectly normal. 

    For me I'm with Ron the more you understand about your condition and the type of surgical procedure your doctor is going to perform the better and less fearful you will feel... but that is just me.  Every one has their own ways to cope with the pressure...

    What I would add however is that what's more important than what you do prior to surgery is what you do AFTER surgery and even beyond the healing stage.  Once you are healed hopefully you will feel 100% again but it is important to note your spine will no longer be 100%.  Your surgeon has cut out (shaved out in your case) a part of your spinal structure that will NOT grow back or regenerate.  This means that your spine will be susceptible to further damage due to unbalanced nature or your spine. The unbalance is not necessarily something you can feel... but it's there.  As such it's important to approach your life going forward keeping in mind that you want to "be kind to your spine" every day for the rest of your life. This doesn't mean you can't be active and need to walk on egg shells everyday ... but you should pay close attention to not doing the bad habit things you did in the past that put undue stress and strain on your spine.  Some reasonable lifestyle adjustments are probably in order...

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 953

    @hvills - Very good advice!   Soccermom1 - I wish you the best in your surgery and I hope you keep us all updated.  We are here to support you. 

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  • Thank you everyone!! I’m a big chicken when it comes to surgery. I have been lucky and have stayed pretty healthy. Thank you Ron @hvills I will keep everyone posted!! And definitely come back for moral support!! 

  • Soccormom1 - I had the same thing done 12 years ago.  A little bit of bone was shaved off to free the nerve space.  I got almost instant relief and never had a problem with it. Now however, I am just about to undergo L4-5 spinal fusion (on Monday 11th Feb 19). I have a cyst in my spinal canal which is compressing many nerves and he has to remove the facet joint to remove the cyst.  Good luck with your surgery and I hope it works as well as mine. 

  • Soccermom1, I had the same.procedure done, L5 S1 herniation with surgery to trim up the disc the was sitting on the  sciatic nerve.  I was a cross fitter and runner  before surgery.  I had procedure done Jan 29 2018.  It been a little over a year now and happy to report surgery was a success.  Recovery is slow especially the healing of the nerve that was being squished.  Just be patient, and each day is small steps forward. I felt great for a few days after surgery but then nerve pain came back.  It has slowly healed and now pretty much subsided.  I am back to jogging  for 40mins and still crossfit ( just a lot smarter now).  I tried everything before surgery and finally decided to do it.  I am very happy with the results, I feel the survery gave me my life back, I am a career firefighter and am back to work doing what I love.  Get a surgeon you can trust, and be patient in your recovery and you will be just fine.  

  • All the best for the surgery Soccermom! I have similar profile (L5 S1 - herniation with nerve compression and extreme pain for 1st two weeks.) I haven't had surgery yet. I used to run 20 - 30 miles a week before Dec 20 when this happened. After many PT sessions, I generally feel better and have less pain but my leg is still numb. I cannot walk properly and if things stay like this I will probably not be able to run again. So, my question is this: Did the surgery relief the numbness too? How long after the surgery did you get relief from the numbness?

    I have had two opinions now (one from Ortho Surg and another from Neuro) - both want to do surgery to relief nerve as it has been 3 months and now feeling in lower leg yet. To me it feels as if surgery is unnecessary because no pain, but I am worried about not being able to walk properly.. PT hasn't really helped much for that.

  • Ask any doctor if numbness is worse than pain. I’m inclined in my experience to believe nearly every doctor will opine that numbness is more troubling from a medical standpoint than pain.

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