L5-S1 Microdiscetomy Post Op Surgery Recovery

Hello everyone. I’m hoping to reach out on this forum and maybe connect with people that have gone through this similar surgery. I’ve been reading posts this last week realizing I wish I had done more research before my surgery to better manage my recovery. 

I’m 27 and have been dealing with sciatic nerve pain and back pain for the last four years. I finally found out last September 2019 that I have a herniated disc L5-S1. I didn’t spend my time researching and learning about what to expect post surgery. I decided to have the Microdiscetomy to give myself a better chance at healing and strengthening my body at a younger age so I can do more physical activities later in life. I had my surgery December 27, 2019. 

Post Op progress:

I am almost three weeks post surgery. I met with my doctor two weeks post who said things seemed to look good and that I should continue to monitor my activity (aka no bending, twisting, lifting) until 4 weeks post op which is when he cleared me to start physical therapy. 

The first week I immediately felt relief in my right buttock and leg it was amazing I was so hopeful. I waited to do any long distance walking until I met with my doctor which now looking back maybe wasn’t the best idea. I would walk daily to the end of the street but that little bit was exhausting. I wish I had read these beforehand because my doctor didn’t recommend a back corset, whereas others that had this surgery said it was a good idea to support posture and remember proper movement. I ordered one now to continue wearing it till 6 weeks out. 

It’s now been 20 days since my surgery and I’m feeling the most intense nerve pain that I’ve ever felt. I’ve never felt this type of pain before. It’s burning and pins and needles sensations. My reading online suggests that maybe it’s my nerve functioning and waking up since it’s been pinched for so long as my doctor had warned me about. I just didn’t expect it to be so bad. I was having major anxiety and fear that I did something in the last two weeks to re-rupture it even though I’ve been extremely careful. I’m afraid I easily forgot about bending or twisting and hurt myself again. The nerve pain started the day after I went walking (day 11 post surgery) for about an hour which I realize wasn’t smart after having been inactive for so long. 

After reading several posts and articles it appears that pain after the second week of surgery has happened to others. That does give me a bit of hope but there’s three weeks of my not wearing a brace to support, sitting a lot, and not being very mobile making it scary. Has anyone had a similar experience with recovery? The only relief I get is with heat therapy or lying down when it’s too intense. I’m going to try for stretches but they’ve been difficult to do and more walking daily. Any insight would be helpful! 



  • Welcome tammyntnt we’re glad you’re here!

    Nerve pain after surgery can be intense and make you wonder if something really bad has happened, I have had that happen a couple of times after surgery, if it is really bad you may need to talk with your surgeon about one of the nerve specific medications, I take one of them and it does help with the nerve pain. 

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you read the article Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery on Spine-health? It offers a lot of practical tips around what to expect before, during, and after surgery. You may also want to check out the video How to Prep Your Home for Spine Surgery Recovery, which also has some great tips.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,461


    Below is two helpful articles on this subject. As with all recoveries, it takes time and patience.

    Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery: 1 to 4 Weeks After

    Postoperative Care for Spinal Fusion Surgery,

    Take care
    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

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  • @challenger thanks for the helpful links! Yes I have been prescribed Gabapentin. I’ve been taking it for the past week 300mg once a night but started to take two now to manage the pain. It does help it just makes me drowsy which makes me nervous to go back to work next week. I’ve been off of work and recovering for three weeks and was hopeful until this nerve pain hit me. I called the doctors office twice and left messages to get some support but still waiting to hear back. Thanks! 

  • @memerainbolt thanks for the links! Yes I’m realizing time is the most important thing. It’s def hard to manage the anxiety that something could be wrong. Thank you! 

  • Stay positive. For many recovery takes a good while, and just because you read stories to the contrary, know that there are so many variables that determine how you heal (age, nature of herniation, time under tension, physical fitness, following post-surgery suggested routines, etc. etc.). The corset thing, I've read pros and cons. I didn't use one, but that doesn't mean anything.

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  •  Hi tammyntn,

    I am 28 days post-surgery. The surgery itself was successful according to a post-op MRI but my nerve became acutely inflamed. My recovery has been a slow upward trend with many versions of horrible pain and up and down days. I am hopeful that someday soon I can return to a normal life. It is hard to find advice for recovery. Not sure exactly why but likely because nerves are hard to anticipate damage and healing. I share your fears of chronic pain and fear of doing too much or not enough (I have had some muscle atrophy) Don't beat yourself up about the research before surgery because I did a ton of research and have a family member who is an orthopedic surgeon none of it was much help with preparing me for this complication. Good Luck! Thanks for sharing. It is good to know that I am not alone in this battle to get my life back. 

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