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Sciatic and Back Pain Worse After Microdiscectomy

Hi there, 

I'm 28 years old and had my microdiscectomy 4 weeks ago after dealing with terrible, debilitating back and sciatic pain for almost a year, but I've had terrible back pain for at least 10 years (even saw a neurosurgeon 5 years ago). 

I'm very depressed and worried that I wasted my time getting the surgery and that I will have to live with this debilitating back pain for the rest of my life. 

I understand that it takes a very long time for the nerves to heal and that mine will probably take longer because they were compressed for years but after hearing and reading about others' recovery stories, I'm scared. 

I have new and worse, pain than before the surgery. I've never had such severe sciatic pain, it runs down my butt and left leg, into my calf and foot. On top of that, my lower back pain is very severe on both sides (my herniated disk was on my left side). 

Immediately after the surgery, I felt no leg pain, only pain from being sore from the surgery itself. This new pain started at about the 2.5 week mark. 

I've been cautious with activities and manage to walk at least an hour a day. My doctor said it's still all normal and prescribed me anti inflammation pills that don't help much. 

I'm heartbroken that I'm in more pain now. 

Do you think it's possible I reherniated the disk? 

Any suggestions, opinions, thoughts? 

Everything looks so bleak right now and I'm normally a positive person. I'm trying to stay positive but it's very hard with all this pain. 

Thanks for reading. 

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Comments

  • Welcome LadyStardust34 we’re glad you’re here!

    4 weeks seems like a long time, but it's just getting started where back surgery is concerned, some are lucky and have no pain at all after surgery, others take time, after my last discectomy I was like you, I hurt more after the surgery than before, the nerves were angry and it took around 4 months before everything completely calmed down, but it did and I am happy I had the surgery, 1 suggestion, look for the little improvements because it probably won't happen all at once.

    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.

    Chip 

    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • Thank you so much for welcoming me and for commenting on my post, Chip! 

    From what I've read online, recovering from back surgery does take a long time and like you said, some people get lucky early on where their pain decreases and others, it's takes a much longer time. I'm glad to hear that you are happy with your surgery and everything eventually settled down! And I appreciate and value, your advice to look for the little improvements daily. 

    I see my doctor in 2 weeks, which will be a total of 6 weeks, the typical time frame that a person recovers from this surgery. If I'm still feeling like this, worse pain than before the surgery, what would you suggest, or do if you were in my shoes? 

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  • I would start a daily diary and write all of my symptoms down daily, where it hurts, what makes it worse or better and take it to my appointment.

    One thing that helped me after surgery and in the past was a steroid pack for inflammation, they work well for that but not for nerve pain.

    There are also a few nerve specific drugs that can help with nerve pain, I take Gabapentin.

    My surgeon did another scan at the 2 month mark to check everything and all came back looking fine, so it was inflammation and nerves causing the issue.

    I also used lots of ice packs, they were temporary relief, but helped with the pain.

    Take care

    Chip

  • Hello! I am 5 weeks out from my Microdiscectomy in L4. I started getting sciatic pain about 3 weeks out too!  Not as bad as before surgery but yes it’s there. It’s stayed fairly constant for me. But please don’t despair. From what I have experimented with and read, it could just be swelling. Testing some anti-swelling tactics helped me with pain relief and to feel like I didn’t permanent hurt my back! A few thing helped for me:

    - icing my back (incision site) and icing down at my foot/ankle where the nerve seems mad. I even made a holster for an ice pack out of an old sock to hold the ice on my ankel.

    - try Aleve, 2x 250 mg. Be sure to eat some bread with it but that really helps the inflammation. Before when my nerve was compressed painkillers did nothing so now seeing a NSAID work gives me lots of hope

    - take Arnica orally (drops or pills) and as a creme at the site. Hell, rub it all over if you need. Right after hot shower is best

    - can you get CBD where you are? It can help you’re muscles relax which can impact your nerve 

    - have you tried acupuncture yet? I haven’t but going to soon! I heard it really helps

    I would try to do what you can to stop swelling that may cause the pain. If it works, you can feel better that you didn’t reherniate the never is just being hit with inflammation. 

    Let us know how it goes!!

  • Thank you both for your help and support dealing with this. 

    Chip, that's an excellent suggestion and I started tracking my pain daily using a really nice app actually. Doctor's office called me back and prescribed me some muscle relaxers for a month before my next appointment with my surgeon. They seem to help a little bit and I think it really is just a bad flare up, like you said, the nerves were compressed for so long and they're angry. My pain is still there pretty bad but it does seem to be subsiding a little as the days go by. 

    Chels, thanks so much for all of your suggestions and support! I truly appreciate it and it helps knowing that there are many of us who have this surgery done and don't get the quick pain relief like a lot of people do. 

    Before week 4, I wasn't icing at all, now I'm icing a lot throughout the day and that seems to help in addition to the muscle relaxers and anti inflammatory meds. When the pain is really bad, I take some ibuprofen but will definitely look into Arnica and CBD too. I haven't tried acupuncture yet but like you, have heard it could help too, worth a shot! 

    I see my surgeon in a month so I'm praying that the pain continues to subside a little every day. If it doesn't, then I will tell him that I'm still feeling more pain than pre op and mention the possibility of a reherniated disk. Praying it's just swelling and inflammation. 

    Last week my pain was about an 8 and today, it's about a 5.5. the worst is at night when trying to fall asleep. 

    I will update you with my recovery and again, thank you both for your support and help. 

    Chels, you're at 6 week mark? How is your pain now after your pain management? Are you feeling better? I hope so! Pain is absolutely debilitating. 

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  • Recovery takes time, and longer than you may have planned for. The good thing is that if you treat yourself right, it's mostly a positive trajectory.

  • Hi there! Thought I would give an update here... my pain has generally gotten worse, even radiating through the leg when I accidentally bend or sit too long. I had my check up and the doctor things its likely just inflammation since stretching my leg doesnt make it worse  - but he also says theres a chance its reherniated since I have leg pain still. :(

    Either way, he wont do a MRI because at this point there is "nothing to be done with it". Here in the Netherlands they wait two months to do surgery on a herniated disc, even the second one.
    So, I have to wait two months and see! It's not a great boat to be in, but the pain is a lot better than pre-op so even if its reherniated, maybe my body can reaborb it or heal without surgery. If not... idk.
    At least my pain stops when I lie down - I saw your comment on sleeping and that was the WORST for me pre-op, so if that happens (God forbid) I'm demanding an MRI even if they call me a pushy American.

    I do wish I could get one just to know what's up, but I also find the more I stress about the pain the worse it gets!

    Has yours gotten any better? And when do you see your doctor?

    - Chels

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