Advice for lower back pain

Hi, I've suffered with lower back pain for a number of years, and 2 months ago I opted for a Discectomy for a disc showing a bulge.

Whilst I experience stiffness in my back, the main issue is in fact the pressure on the sciatic nerve down my left leg, causing numbness and pain. It's usually fine sitting down, it's mainly brought on by walking or standing for a few minutes.

Post op, I've been building up to walking, driving etc and have recently started Physio , mainly working with a back block.

However 2 months down the line, I've very little relief from my pre op symptoms. im worrying that the surgery hasn't worked, and don't know whether I'm being impatient or that's the reality.

Has anyone had similar experiences? Or frustrations or have any advice? I'm so fed up with being so immobile, and with a 1 year old daughter this isn't something I can continue with!!!

8 Replies

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  • I went numb all below the waist in 1995. I had to have an emergency discectomy/laminectomy. 20 years later and I'm still in as much pain, if not more; my right leg, a part of my left and my "bits" are still numb and it has never eased. The op eased some of the pain, but not all, it isn't a miracle cure I'm afraid, once the nerves have been damaged and the disc/spine operated on, the damage is done and scar tissue takes over where that left off.

    It's still very early days for you, if you can, ask about a pain clinic locally and gentle exercise like yoga positions, stretching exercises. Sorry to not have good news.

  • Unfortunately, removing the disc is just removing the disc, there is no guarantee that you will be pain free afterwards. If the nerve has been compressed for a long time, it does not always "pop" back into shape - think Tom and Jerry flattened with a frying pan, then popping back into shape. You will continue to have pain after the disc has been removed because the nerve has remained compressed.

    You could try alternatives like sports physios, chiros, etc to see if they can encourage the nerve to pop back into shape. Their treatments cause more pain though and you may seem like you are getting worse before you get better.

    I've had 2 separate disc problems sorted alternatively about 5 years apart. No surgery and few drugs. Now I have a small amount of pain (rarely above 4) which I manage with meditation, exercises, distraction, alternative therapies. I know my limits and accept I have down time if I overdo things, but I have a survival kit for that too.

    I really don't want surgery, so I'm doing all I can to delay it. There may be a time in the future when I do need it, but just maybe i'm doing enough to prevent it.

  • Read SI bone

  • Hi

    I wish I could provide sensible advice, but unfortunately I have no idea what surgery does. There are things that can be done which I know would be useful if the body had not been altered. So what I am going to suggest my have some relevance or it may not. This is a suck it and see situation.

    What I am going to say has a great deal of relevance if not nothing had been altered so you need to make adaptations to fit your understanding of what has been changed in your body.

    The head is heavy. The body is designed to balance the head on top of the spine. If the head is not balanced on top of the spine muscles will need to hold the head up. The holding of the head by muscles can cause all sorts of things to be pulled out of alignment by the muscles over contracting. To stop this over contracting you need help to check that the head is balancing on top of the spine.

    The is another postural problem which can cause pressure on the spine. The spinal reflexes react to the issue of the centre of gravity. Is the centre of gravity passing though the ankle joints or is it to the front or rear of the ankle joints? If the centre of gravity is to the front or the rear there is an adjustment in muscle tension which can cause over contracting of muscles which can cause pain and discomfort.

    This is an area that an Alexander Teacher knows a great deal about. So it is worth seeing an Alexander teacher to get help from them. How accurate my description is I do not know because your body has been altered by surgery.

    Note: Medical consultants often do not take muscle behaviour and posture into account when they make diagnoses and instigate treatment.

    Please let me know if this has been helpful or not.

    All the best.

  • Hi I had a emergency microdiscectomy and laminectomy in Feb of last year as I was unable to walk or dress my lower half, whilst the surgery gave me the ability to walk I still suffer from chronic back and sciatica, which has got progressively worse again. My disc is bulging again and the scar tissue is affecting my sciatic nerve. I saw my doctor again today and got told I will require further surgery which could either be inserting a plate and pin through my spine or a full discectomy. Although the pain is unbearable again, I am worried about the risks of further surgery. I sympathise with you as I have a 4 year old, It is extremely frustrating.

  • Hi all,

    Thanks to those who have replied already. I'm really trying to keep a positive view on things as I am only 2 months post surgery, but I'm in more pain now than before surgery. I fully expected to realise some level of pain, especially when the physio kicked in, but I'm now in a position where I still have the same level of left leg pain as I did pre op with the addition of aching / stiffness on the right hand side first thing in the morning.

    My main concern, and I'm sure I'm not the only person to have thought "Did the surgery work for me", is that I can stand & walk for a few minutes with no pain. After a few minutes (and there's no hard and fast rule on how long, could be 3 could be 15) the numbness begins in my calf and thigh, and gets gradually worse until I sit down for a few minutes. When I went for my MRI and Surgery, I had spent a significant time sat down, so was in no pain - so my concern is, was the true extent of the pain I was in, reflected at the point the surgeon needed to see? Should I have been standing before the MRI so they could record the issue at it's worst?

    The surgeon did say he had taken only a small part from the outer skin of the disc, so not actually removed any of the disc - so of course it's running through my head, has he taken enough out? Is it still bulging after standing or walking for a while because it gets progressively worse?

    I'm seeing my surgeon next week, so will ask him if this could be a factor. At this stage I am desperately trying to see the pain I am in as the nerve needing time to heal (after 12 months of NHS GP ignorance and pain) and the new experience of physio on my back.

    Ultimately I'm in the surgeon's hands - he is the expert, and I have been honest about my symptoms, so I have to trust him....

  • Hi

    I definitely understand what your going through as I am in a similar situation. I am by no means a specialist on this but have a few questions if you don't mind? What treatment did you have before surgery? Have you had a mri since the op? Did your surgeon give you risk percentages beforehand? Since my surgery I have had 4 follow-up appointments each time with a different surgeon whom had no previous part in my treatment or had I met. When discussing my condition and future treatment none said the same thing, I got told different things about my surgery, the risks, possible outcomes and even different things about a mri I had recently. I have gone from being told I wont require any further surgery to now being told by 2 doctors I am definitely going to require further surgery it just depends on how quickly I deteriorate. When you see your surgeon go armed with questions and possible future scenarios, Try to research into this as much as you can beforehand.

    I hope things get better for you soon

    Paul

  • Hi Dan,

    Prior to the surgery I had an x Ray and then an MRI + all of the usual sensitivity tests, stretching etc. because it was through private I was given the choice of injections or surgery, and given the rates of success explained to me, surgery seemed the best option.

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