Should I have Micro discectomy? Can anyone help me?

Hi I am due to have a Lumbar Micro discectomy next week. Mri 2 months ago showed a broad based disc bulge with a protruded right and left paracentral component, the protrusion at the L4/5 level is causing compression of the transiting right L5 nerve root. I have had back pain for a few years now but 4 months ago I woke to excrutiating pain down the right side of my body. Dr sent me for Mri as I had had recurrent back problems. Seen specialist nurse 6 weeks ago who advised I speak to surgeon. Pain had subsided a lot by this point but still had constant pins an needles in leg and nerve in buttock and calf were very painful if touch or knocked. Spoke to surgeon few weeks after and he reccomended either injection or operation. I opted for operation. The thing is now is the leg pain has improved more. I dont no if its the pregabalin I am taking and because I am pushing myself more or if disc is healing by itself. My leg still isnt completely right, buzzy feing mainly from knee down, calf tender to touch, freezing cold foot and back pain seems more of a noticable problem. I just dont know if I now need operation? Thing is I am worried if I dont have it now in a couple of weeks I could be back in agony. So hard to decide. My job entails lots of bending down, twisting and movement so scared if I go back to work without having operation I could end up in worse pain. Has anyone experienced this? I am due to have operation in a weeks time so need to decide if I am going to go through with it or not. Will surgeon open me up and say nerve is not compressed now so cant do anything ? Or will there still be a disc bulging that can be sorted? Aaaaahhhh!!! Please advise me if you can. Thanks

24 Replies

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  • I got same problem but had mine for 4years but last June came back a lot worse n I suffered ever since to point I carnt walk with out crutchers and in lit pain am waiting for letter to say see specialist I got my mri scan results bk with in 12 hours and was told I need it operating on sooner rather then later so I would say go and have it done because it may be tablets helping with pain Gabapentin dint touch me with pain n know on oramorpn and tablets morfen as well as Gabapentin inflammatory and zapain plz keeps us updated on what u decide maybe u could try injection first xxx

  • Thank you so much for your reply , I didn't think I would get one as my pain is now quite minor compared to others on here. When you say you have had it for 4 years do you mean back pain or sciatic symptoms? What kind of pain did you have? When are you scheduled for op? Xxx

  • Sciatica first came when I was 16 been on n off for years been admitted twice but the last 4 years had it more and since June never gone its a shooting pain at bottom of my back in to my hip and traveled down my leg I cam only move my leg 40 degrees if not less know I haven't got date yet that's what waiting on I all so have bugle at bottom of my spine that flares up xx

  • In short, have the surgery!! Your symptoms are still hovering around albeit less than previously but it's best to get that disc removed now it's started playing up!!

    Pain doesn't always equal prolapse severity; it's the other nerve type symptoms that are more worrying. A cold foot and pins & needles are a sure sign of nerve compression and that needs sorting!

    RJC x

  • Have the op. There is a high probability if you continue bending and twisting it will come back.

    Barry

  • Hi so I have been for pre op today and spoke to spinal nurse. I told her my concerns and that I have made progress. Initially she suggested maybe postponing the op. I told her I was unsure if to do that. She has agreed to speak to the neuro surgeon , look at MRI and see what he says. When she did physical test she said there was still an obvious weakness in my right leg. Awaiting any reply but I think it will be in a few days. Thanks for all your comments. Xx

  • Whatshouldido

    But do you want to put up with a little weekness or chance the Surgery and come out Worse? And no Cure? The Surgeons Job will be done and so will that nurses!

    Be very carefull. If you have access to the Internet you can research everything. Papers written by Physicians who have Patients who are Suffering to a degree you can't imagine, Post-Op.

    Our Spines and SPINAL CORDS ate the most Prestine Part of our Bodies. I hope that you reconsider.

  • Micodiscectomy is a very low invasive and outpatient surgery. If you have a herniated or ruptured disc and it is impinging upon a nerve, the feeling you are having in you rear or down your leg is sciatica. The one thing I will emphasize that you need to adhere to is what your surgeon gives you for limitations. I didn't take it easy enough and caused the disc to herniate out the other side of my spine and into the nerve again. I have had 4 lumbar discectomies and or laminectomies. Every surgery eliminated the sciatica symptoms but in the end none of them helped the lower back pain. Between scar tissue and inflammation I was diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome. I now have a spinal cord stimulator implanted that masks some of that pain.

  • Whatsgoukdido and BigBadBacknosis

    - Failed Back Surgery!

    Do you burn like someone has poured gasoline on you and thrown at match in it?

    The Surgeon probably made things far worse that are irreparable and your stuck with this for a life of hell.

    I can not emphasize enough- please people - any Surgeon would be Bankrupt if they didn't take their knives and Scalpels out! They sometimes can't tell the difference between a nerve and a capillary.

    Your Failed Back Surgery, if not yet, soon will be having symptoms of Adhesive Arachnoiditis. You will know it. It's progressive so it'll sneak up on you far after your Surgeon is gone. And then it's -tough- you are on your own!

  • More is NOT always better!

    You could come out of Surgery much WORSE off, with permanent Nerve Damage. I strongly suggest and recommend that you Research Adhesive Arachnoiditis. It's causes are what is important in your case- Failed Back Surgeries and Epidural Steroid Injections. Remember the enormous amount of Nerves in our Spinal Columns. Once Damaged - you are done - for life. There is no cure for Adhesive Arachnoiditis and you will NOT get but a handful of Doctors, Surgeons and Nurses who will not only say "Never Heard of it." or "That won't happen to you" Or Flatly Deny that this even happens! It is always caused by Medical Errors. Unless the Patients Spine got so badly twisted, broken and turned inside out during a vehicle accident or some other horrendous accident. The truth is that most accidents happen right inside our Hospitals. Medical Errors that are so grossly covered up and buried or deleted from your Records. Why you ask? To avoid law suits. Who has enough money to sue the Medical Professionals in the first place is an impossibility. Your Surgeons and Physicians make their income by Procedures and Do Not seem to be Cognitive of the concequences. I personally would not have Surgery of any kind anywhere near my Spine and Spinal Nerves. If you are in Pain now and wind up with Adhesive Arachnoiditis you will regret it in a manner which I can not begin to tell you. The pain is Intractable - it never ever stops. Your body will feel trapped in a raging Forest Fire in which there is no escapeing. You'll hop from Doctor to Doctor, not any of them to give you the "truth". I pray that you do not have Surgery and certainly not any Epidural Steroid Injections for the pain.

    I'm not making light of your present Pain whatsoever but Please, Please research Adhesive Arachnoiditis. It's supposed to be in the Medical Community a "Rare Dinasour" but in fact it is not. It is "hidden" that makes it that way. You will never be the same if the "perfect hands" of any Surgeon slip up a ml.of a ml. and you'll be left searching and searching for answera non of which will come from "The White Coats Code of Silence".

    If you can get by on pain prescriptions because your MRI is obvious that would be my honest choice and advice. You will not have a life beyond Adhesive Arachnoiditis.

    I hope you think this through and make a decision based on your new found knowledge and do not have this survery. There is 5,!0,15,20,25+++ years left to live with discomfort, terrible discomfort or Intractable Pain that you can not imagine the Horrors of.

    Every Surgery and Surgeon means lots of $$$. They will not be able to help you when you will need them afterwards. It will be too late.

    I pray that you make a well informed decision without the persuasiveness of Doctors and Surgeons - we are only numbers in every sence of the word.

    Please, again Research Thoroughly- Adhesive Arachnoiditis. It's causes. No cure.

    And a Life of Hell living with Adhesive Arachnoiditis.

    If ANY Doctor has not heard of this that's a very good reason to walk away. If they deny that Adhesive Arachnoiditis could be a result of Failed Back Surgery - they want your money and don't give two hoots about consequences. Or they are Flat Out Liers. Plane and simple.

    You do not want to end up with Nerve Damage that will make you want to jump off a bridge -it is this bad. I've learned to take one day at a time.

    I do sincerely you heed what I have said.

    It's ultimately your decision.

    Make it an extremely Informed Decision.

    Only you have to live with the concequences.

  • My strong advice is DO NOT have surgery......I had surgery four years ago for same thing, was left WORSE.......then I had surgery again 18 months ago, to try any correct first surgery..I had a spinal leak during surgery.....But the outcome of surgery is......right buttock is numb ( and private parts ) right foot is partly numb, and both feet are stone cold.....I also now have neuropathy in both legs.....and I am now on Morphine .PLEASE think carefully.

    IF only I could turn back the clock..........

  • Birdlady1

    The very fact that you came out of Surgery "with a Spinal leak" -think about this for a moment. A slip of a tiny scalpel, needle, anything put that puncture in your Spinal Cord. The Spinal Cord Dlud which protects your Spinal Nerves is now " leaking' Your nerves are now not "bathing" on the Spinal Cord Fluid. The nerves begin to "stick together". A visual - you have a nice pot of cooked Spaghetti not drained yet. The spaghetti are your nerves. Floating and bathing in the water you have your cooked spaghetti. Next thing you do for your Spaghetti meal is drain the water. The spaghetti if not well oiled with saucertain would dry up and stick together. That's your nerves in your Spine. They start sticking together and scar tissue begins to form. You'll need pain medications to the 10the degree if you now have ADHESIVE Arachnoiditis! I've asked people in this group several times to do their research. Don't let any Doctor intimidate anyone into Surgery without full disclosure if Complete Informed Consent ***** Take your Doctors "Informed Consent" and challenge it by researching it. Guaranteed he/she didn't tell you about XY and Z. Remember that Surgeons do not get paid if they aren't cutting!

  • I could not agree more , but luckily I refused an operation after they badgered me to have one; on three occasions they came with a paper to sign, I'm still managing with pain and weak legs but it can be managed as long as you persevere with movement .

    I have Arachnoditis (they said) but I also had osteomyelitis really bad infection but luckily treated and was able to keep on walking but it is a full time job managing it to have some life , operations can not be reversed and bad Doctors are two a penny, good doctors will not operate unless you want and demand it, so please try everything else and get good pain control and keep your muscles in good order by walking as much as you can, it can be done I've done it for 30 years best of luck.

  • Coolpolitealex

    Can you be more specific about your walking. Yes it is absolutely important to prevent alot of other complications. I'm only doing "two rounds" of a hallway outside if my apartment and this can and has put me in a flare. Contrary to this IF I DO NOTHING, It will be more pain because the Intractable Pain stops me in my tracks. I feel way more pain relief is absolutely necessary in order for me to even walk for exercise. Can you tell me/us if you had to start slow and how slow ? I've gone over not by much and the consequences put the fear of hell in me because I know that I absolutely can not even get myself to the Doctors with this Intractable Pain of Arachnoiditis.

  • Hellohellohello Compared to the thousands of people who have immediate and permanent relief from a discectomy the number of people who go on to suffer from permanent problems is tiny.

    I suffer from permanent nerve damage following four microdiscectomies and am not even considering jumping off a bridge. Yes it's hard living with constant, severe pain but it's better than living with the symptoms that were there before the operation.

    I always warn people who are in the acute stages of their health problems not to go on forums because of comments like yours who scare them from having treatments they really ought to have.

  • I have just read the post by helohelohelo.......YES I understand everything you say.......you are SO right.....Back surgery is SO very dangerous...........

  • Hi Birdlady☺

    Thank You,

    I wish so very much that people facing Back Surgery would do their due diligence and Research. When it's too late, it is more often than not, very much worse. People are comitting Suicide for Gods Sake because they can not get the Pain Relief that is required! You MUST be dying from cancer yet you have the same Pain Symptoms that have been compared to Stage 1V Bone Cancer. And I'm not joking.

    Don't throw caution to the wind-ever.

  • My Experience - 10 years ago I suffered for probably 3 months of herniated L5/S1 pinched nerve. Scared stiff of surgery. Could take med strength pain meds to get a decent sleep. Couldn't stand up (walk) for more than about 3 minutes without sitting down. In the beginning pain was excruciating and sharp then with time the pain became more dull and able to handle better. With gobs of Ibuprofen and light pain meds could go to work behind a computer and light waking throughout factory floor. As time went by I feared that if I didn't get the surgery that the tingling pinched nerve was going to be permanently damaged and even if I had surgery that I would live in pain. Got a first MRI and identified the exact pinched nerve and started setting up a surgery. As surgery date approached I seemed to be getting better and or more scared to have the surgery. Then...I woke up one morning and it was totally gone - jumping and running all over at work...called surgeon's office and told them that I might put it on hold. Next day...I COULDN'T SIT DOWN AND I COULDN'T STAND UP. I was now on big time pain meds 24/7 and kept the surgery date. Had one last MRI day before surgery.

    Surgery - Surgeon said that there was a lot of cleaning to do - took max time one can be under to clean out the pinched nerve area. My parents became real worried. My parents drove me home and I made them dinner. Never took, not even one, pain med after surgery. Surgery was on a Friday and could have gone back to work the next day !

    10-years later (56yrs old with typical degenerative discs) - I lifted a 75lb portable wood planer on Sunday. Monday late afternoon I started having back pain. By Tuesday morning I knew exactly what it was :>( This time, it is so much worse - can't walk more than 100-ft or stand more than about a 2 minutes and can't lay in bed without pinching on nerve. The worst is that even with 1 Percocet I can only sleep in 1 hour increments then wake in excruciating pain and have to move into an office type chair for a few hours - I now live in a chair. Out of work for almost 2 weeks now.

    I am begging for a surgery - playing the Doctor/Insurance authorization game now! Haven't even gotten to an MRI yet.

    However, back to you. Surgery - It is the hardest decision anyone will ever make in their entire life. Pinched nerve is so variable - can go from pinched nerve with excruciating pain to can't sit can't stand or both to no pinched nerve and completely healed within hours. Keep in mind, the surgery can fix the pain associated with the nerve the surgeon clears but it won't fix any other back pain. I will never do another steroid injection and it didn't do squat for me the first time. I have read that it has extremely low success and they limit the number of injections - due to one effect of steroid - small permanent damage to your spine with each injection.

    This type almost always goes away on its own - I had an upper, neck area, that pinched a nerve 1.5 years ago affecting my right arm and shoulder. Suffered through it for 2 weeks (pain killer to sleep) then used Ibuprofen from there. At 6 weeks I was doing okay. Took 4 months to totally be gone. Surgery averted.

    If it were me...from what I have experienced and read, it seems that 6-weeks seems to be the magic number. If after that, going forward, and I was not seeing a linear noticeable improvement each week then I would have the surgery - being to afraid of permanently damaging the nerve. All the while feared of having the surgery .

    When I was in my 20's I woke up one morning with a bad stiff neck which happened to be the first day a friend and I were heading out on a motorcycle trip - stiff neck happened to be my throttle arm. Took me 4 years to get over that one. Stiff neck on right side kept coming back - first every other day - every other week - every other month - every other year !

    Wish I had nerves of steel. Like someone else said - our spine has a lot more evolution to go for man to walk upright - for now, we just have to live with a prototype :>)

    I would opt for the surgery - seems like microdiscectomy is low risk these days. Hell, both my dad and my brothers father in law both had open heart surgery at 89-yrs old - couldn't have their needed surgery until their heart was fixed first.

  • In my opinion do it i had exactly the same as you and had the op in jan this year and am no longer in pain ive returned to wk and the gym now doing hydro therapy and physio and wouldnt change it for anything.

  • Hi All

    Thanks for all your replies. So here is what has happened since I last posted. I went for pre op and voiced my concerns to the spinal nurse. She was unsure what to advice as after doing a physical examaination she said my leg was still showing some weakness. She said she was speak to Neuro Surgeon, who could look at my MRI and get someone to call me back. On Friday morning I received a call from another Spinal Nurse and we discussed my current symptoms and pain levels. This nurse advised against having the op as said my pain levels were no longer severe. Throughout the chat she kept adding that op was not to help with my back pain but to release the impinged nerve. She suggested cancelling operation and they would organise a new MRI to see what was now happening. I asked for some time to decide to which she said I could but also added if I did show up for op and I did not look in severe pain they would not do op anyway. I came off the phone and spoke to my husband and Mum and then made decision to cancel. I know this is something I may need in the future but right now if I can hold back on it, and continue to show improvement without op then that is right for me. I may be back on here in a short while saying I should of had it but right now its not for me.

    So for now I want to thank you all for your thoughts, concern and advice. I really did appreciate having people to chat too who had been in similar situations. I wish you all good health for the future xx

  • You say: "My job entails lots of bending down, twisting and movement". This is maybe an indication that you have caused the problem to yourself albeit unknowingly. What I see in your comments is that no one has investigated overtight muscles which need to be untightened. Overtight muscles do not show up on an MRI scan. Overtight muscles can cause the damage you speak off.

    You need training into how to move without over tightening muscles. You need to see someone who can help take the pressure of the nerve. This is a mechanical hand manipulation procedure. Talking chiropractor, sports therapist here. You then need to look at developing the skill to become sensitive to your body movements and body posture so that you reduce the risk of over tightening muscle and damaging yourself. An Alexander Technique teacher would be good for this.

    I cannot comment on operation as this is outside my sphere of knowledge.

  • Hi i asked for discetomy 2 yrs ago an they refused I've got bulging disc l4 an l5 i can't feel my toes ,my pains are realy bad ,I'm so stiff in a mornin my joints ,my ankles wrists ,elbows an sumtimes my neck it's just never ending,I'm on morphine an pregablin it doesn't stop the pains ,I've had back probs for nearly 7 yrs now ,had injections physio I've had everything except an OP ,so maybe there's hope for me yet.

  • Hi x sorry to hear of your pain. I had very similar to you in 2013. My MRI showed impinged nerve at L5/S1 despite 3 plus years of being in pain with terrible sciatica and being told I would have to 'live with the pain' I kept going back to the Doctors and eventually last year I had another MRI which showed the disc had prolapsed. I had surgery last year and I saw the Surgeon last week who showed me that the operation was a 'success'. I am still in pain and unable to return to work - it is worse than before the operation. I felt a real charlatan and was really pleased it was a success but in tears I asked him where my pain was coming from and he said it's because the nerves were compressed for the 3 plus years!!

    I was told by the surgeon that the pain relief would be immediate my feet touched the ground after the operation BUT for me it wasn't like that. I didn't read up on things and had it not been for the nerve damage maybe he would have been right. I wish initially I had tried exercising to try and solve it BUT I had been doing Yoga for 4 years and had to stop because of the pain! I don't know maybe as your pain is relatively 'new' it's best to have it now but I would read up lots and trust your gut feeling.

    Good luck x

  • Did you have the microdiscectomy op? If so how did it go. My symptoms are similar to your but at l4-l5 and worse at l5-s1. My op is scheduled for June. I get my worst symptoms during the night and sleep is oftern interrupted.

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