Sciatic nerve pain following microdiscectomy

I've suffered sciatic pain for years prior to my op. Surgeon operated on L4/L5 at the end of September 2016 after I couldn't carry on with my working life day to day.

I had about one day after my op pain free. Then on the second day as soon as the physio lady showed me how to do the stairs the pain came back with a vengeance.

I called hospital and then spoke to both my gp and the local physio lady about my concerns approx 4 weeks after my op. Also the fact I could barely walk the length of myself without searing pain. All three assured me it was early days, not to worry and that I was not to try to push through the pain.

Followed physio exercises, took advice from her and gp and again raised my concerns about how little I could do without severe pain and also the fact it was a couple of months out now and I was still taking as many painkillers as when I'd left the hospital. The last part really disappointed me as before the op I was taking lots of painkillers and hoped after the op I wouldn't need them

After about three and a half months I visited the surgeon and explained how worried I was He was very straight talking Told me he now felt that I'd always have chronic pain, that the nerve must have been too damaged prior to my operation and that I needed to accept I'd never be pain free as there is nothing else he can do surgically I was absolutely devastated

After speaking to physio and my gp it was agreed I'd go to hydrotherapy and then a pain management clinic I'm now on the second week of hydrotherapy And my gp has prescribed gabapentin as well as co codamol for the pain I'm still in lots of pain as soon as I start walking in my buttock, right hip and down my right leg along with numbness in my foot

Has anyone ever had a similar experience? Or can anyone offer any hope at all? My son is keen I get a 2nd opinion or find an expert in nerve surgery

I'm not sure what the answer is but I know that at 53 I can't live the rest of my life like this 😞 I'm still off work and piling on the weight as I'm so immobile ( my job is a very physical one)

10 Replies

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  • Tankyboo1

    Iam sorry to hear about ur pain.

    I have a simular story to u , & same again iam learning to live life differently.

    Can I ask how u damaged ur back to have a micro discoptomy? .

    Cut long story short I had discoptomy (s1/l5) in 2001-took 18mth & lots morphine b4 I could walk properly again had to chg life & accept couldn't do things I used too...Unfortunately in 2014 I had an accident in work-I have (l4&l3) prolapsed but they have embedded themselves into my old scar tissue..

    So yes I've been told similar - get on with life have daily concoction of pain killers -methocarbamol, codeine phosphate, paracetmol, gababpentin 1800mg a day, ..

    Ur lucky to get hydrotherapy here I've waited a yr for it..

    Have u tried accupuncture?. Iam fèEling very sore & worse for a few days but then I get flair ups a lot when it really hurts.

    I've also had 5 spinal nerve blocks & steroids put in..worth asking about..or is this my surgeons na me for what u had done.

    Good luck.x

  • Hi Tash

    Many thanks for replying to me. I suffered from sciatic pain for many years before I finally went back to my GP to say I couldn't cope with the pain any more So in a way it's my fault it's been left so long.

    I'm really sorry you find yourself in a similar position. It's like Groundhog Day for me at the moment.

    The hydrotherapy is painful but I feel it will help in the long run. They are very caring people who do their best to make you feel relaxed but at the same time want you to work lol.

    I haven't tried acupuncture I'm not a fan of needles tbh.

    Did you find the spinal blocks gave you any lasting respite from the pain. How do they actually block your nerve? Is it extremely painful? I know it may seem like a crazy question when I'm in so much pain already. But I just really like to know these things.

    Hope you're having a good day today. Take care

    Cathy xx

  • Hi Cathy

    Spinal nerve blocks are done thru sedation u don't feel them,they block certain nerves causing sciatica, or spinal pain,I've had 5 done they helped with the sciatica but not spinal pain... nothing has worked due to the fact iam so damaged & inopperable...but if ur like me want to try anything possible, think their working backwards on me from operating - hydrotherapy. X

  • Hi there I can sympathise ,you are at the beginning of your journey it's devastating learning you'll be left with constant pain which affects your whole life.

    This is where our expectations of what the health service offers and what they can actually do to help is different.

    It's a mourning process. That's what it felt like for me. Leave the old life behind and start afresh once I came to grips this is what my life will be like from now on.

    Your son just wants the best for you and understandably would like you to be better abbb healthier happier and back to your old self before your health problems began, however if you attempt to gain a second opinion which your entitled to do you will get the same response and another devastating blow to your expectations of what you expect and want from them. It's completely natural I've been there on more than one occasion.

    Now it's about managing your pain , managing your life , if your job is very physical it may not be the best for you at the moment can they assign you to lighter duties when you feel well enough to return?

    I needed help and fought this help for a long time thinking I could manage myself and not be a burden to others meanwhile I actually made life more difficult for myself and my family.

    The pain clinic can help but that's only a small part of the puzzle to help you to adapt. Little steps at a time. Pain management group in your local area can help with the psychological aspect of the changes this has had to your life it's a great way of meeting others learning ideas of how to cope daily what we can do to help ourselves it's very rewarding.

    The brick wall you feel your constantly hitting at the moment it'll start to come down eventually and there's no hurry. Take things at your own pace.

    Keep a diary of level of pain what you do in a day? How you are emotionally etc some days I cried or was really angry or bitter or all at the same time. Write down your fillers and drainers make lists.

    Getting up , getting dressed is this manageable. It's a drainer but eventual can become a filler because it won't have as much of an impact. These fillers and drainers can vary depending on how you feel in a day.

    Sometimes just ranting in to the diary can make the shoulders and the chest a little lighter.

    Housework definitely a drainer ask for help I'm sure family wouldn't mind.

    Shopping another drainer.

    Sitting too long, oh a drainer.

    Reading, any distraction, try to do things that make you happy this is a filler

    Hot water bottle for me a filler lol

    Mindfulness classes another filler

    Unfortunately it's about looking for these fillers and finding a balance.

    Everything takes time. 3 years down the line and I'm still learning, my frame of mind has changed and I'm happier. I've made many adaptations to my life some I dislike but necessary and others because it's beneficial to my health.

    Some days I really dread getting out of bed if it wasn't for family and friends and others I probably would've struggled more than I am now.

    I'm around if you want a batter any time at all.

    I hope this helps

    SA

  • Hi Sian

    Everything you've said here is very much how I feel except I'm much earlier on in my journey than you.

    I love the way you can put those feelings into words that describe everything so well. It's something I really struggle to do.

    I'm very much mourning my old life even though it's only been four months. I jump between being really sad and thinking maybe it'll suddenly get better soon. I know in my heart of hearts it probably won't now. But I can't let go of the possibility at the moment.

    My son would like me to go private, he feels I should at least have a consultation and if they say they can't do anything, at least I'll know. He's so kind to offer me this and I feel very lucky to have his support And you're right about him wanting me to be better like the old me I think everyone I know wants that I've been truly blessed when it comes to family and friends The funny thing is that I still feel very alone in this process As if everyone else's life has carried on and mines has been left behind

    I've thought several times about keeping a diary but then never did it So I'm going to actually do it this time as I think it will definitely be a benefit going forward

    As far as work is concerned they are going to have me working part time to start and on light duties but I think this will be short term It's a real pressure even just thinking about work at the moment And like you I hate the thought of being a burden to anyone

    Heat is good for me too. My friends gave me a heated cushion for Xmas and it's been really great

    I can identify with so much of what you're saying especially getting up in the morning The two things that get me up are seeing my grandkids off to school (they and my daughter are living with me just now) and my puppy I got him a few months before my op and he's the only reason I struggle to go out every single day as he needs at least one walk a day I just love him and my grandkids so much and I guess the feeling of being needed is good for me

    I really hope you have more good days than bad

    Take care

    Cathy xx

  • Have you requested another MRI to confirm the source of pain? I now have very similar symptoms as you do but after 3 discectomies left side , I am now possibly looking at 4th but right side!! I have read that some people re-herniate the disc almost straight away after surgery, a second opinion seems an idea if your surgeon refuses another MRI. 😕 Sorry to hear of your struggle

  • Hi Seagull

    Thanks so much for replying

    Yes when I saw the surgeon I requested another MRI. I had it today in fact.

    TBH though he told me that although he was happy to request one for me he already knew it would come back abnormal. He came across as quite dismissive but that might just have been the way I read it. So I'm not holding out much hope that he'll have anything else to say about the results. 😞

    He was very adamant that he could do nothing more for me surgically.

    As I've said in response above. My son wants me to have a consultation with a private doctor just to get their opinion. So I think that is probably going to happen now.

    OMG I can't believe how many ops you've had to go through. I really hope if they do the left side it's the answer for you. You must be a very strong person to be able to deal with that

    Wishing all the best for you.

    Take care

    Cathy xx

  • Thanks for your reply! A revision discectomy is what you should push for, basically doing the Op again. My current consultant in Gloucestershire did my last Op which was a revision discectomy, I am back with him on Wednesday to discuss a plan. Hope all goes Ok for you, you can change consultant! Push on, mail if you need to discuss.

    Best wishes

  • Hi Seagull

    Good to know this may be an option. Hope all goes ok for you too. Pls keep in touch and let me know how it goes

    Cathy xx

  • Hello.

    Iam in a very simular situations to u .except it's taken me 3 yrs to get the hydo therapy & accupuncture cure. .I've done a 10 week pain clinic course but im also a spiritualist so do a lot of meditating. ..

    16 yr ago i had a dbl discoptomy in 2014 I had an accident I've 2 more disc out pushing into scar tissue , it's inoperable,I've had 5 spinal nerve blocks, 3 steroid injections & even hip steriosteroids, the pain killers I was given at the time of the accident iam on now + more, physio first time around b4 they has even scanned me made me worse, I've found life very hard so was ref to spinal surgeon it's such a long process here, iam now declared disabled, I have to live with chronic pain, I don't go out much,I find mivents hard, I keep getting told from Dr to walk but it's boring on ur own,

    Hydro kills me the nxt day, I can't move very well.accupuncture is the same but if I don't prove iam trying they may not help me in future..

    It costs me over £100 a yr to buy a pre paid ticket!!.xx

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