Road to Recovery – Life after Microdiscectomy

Rockland Lake

Originally uploaded by ricksannicandro

6 months after Micro-discectomy for herniation between L-4/L-5 I’ve finally had a chance to run 3 miles around Rockland Lake this past Saturday. Since the surgery back in September 2009, I’ve generally been without pain and have followed doctor’s orders pretty strictly. The first month after surgery you’re told to try and work yourself up to 30-40 minutes per day of walking. By day 5 I was walking the treadmill 30 min per day. Believe it or not, walking is the best medicine for recovery. In fact, 2 weeks after surgery, I had a previously scheduled business trip to China that I couldn’t miss, so the doctor gave me the green light to fly as long as I walked the cabin every 45 minutes during the flight.

The trip was a blast, and I did a ton of walking and though residual pain and discomfort existed, it was 100 times better than the pain I went through months previous. I walked the streets of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. 3 weeks to the day after surgery, I stood on the Great Wall of China (Mutianyu) and did plenty of walking there. For anyone who’s been, it’s a fairly challenging hike with plenty of stairclimbing.

Rick on China\’s Great Wall \”Mutianyu\” – 3 weeks after microdiscectomy

Upon my return and follow-up with the surgeon, he recommended 8 weeks of physical therapy to strengthen back muscles, teach me daily stretches to incorporate into my routine, work the tissue around the incision, and just get me in a condition where I could begin light weight training again.

After about week 4 (8 sessions) of PT, I felt strong enough to move forward on my own So from about February through end of March, I started hitting the gym, focusing on stretching (this is very important). 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, and circuit training on nautilus equipment (very light weights) and only doing lifts that my physical therapist showed me.

If I could give anyone who’s going through or is about to go through microdiscectomy you should really focus on the following things during recovery.

– Pain after surgery is normal. Usually it’s dull pain and it comes and goes. Your nerve(s) have been through something pretty traumatic and they take much much longer to heal than regular muscle tissue. Be patient!

– Walk every day – even if it’s for 20 minutes. You need to stay loose and stay away from the couch!

– Listen to your doctor and physical therapist. If they say no lifting, then don’t do it. If you have children like I do, ignore the urge to give them piggyback rides or put them up on your shoulders. Housework? Take it easy and hire someone to help. Whatever you do – DO NOT shovel snow! I did this about 4 months after surgery and paid for it for the next 3 days (hip and leg pain).

– Slowly get back into your regular work-out routine. Don’t push it. I thought I could run 3 miles a day 4 days a week like I had been but the truth is that maybe 2 days a week is realistic at first as your leg muscles and lower back are not used to the pounding a good 3 mile run give your body.

– Watch your diet. Admittedly, I put on about 10 extra lbs from the time I herniated my disk in June until just after surgery in September (4 months). This was obviously due to the lack of physical activity, time spent on the couch, or the additional alcohol I consumed in much greater amounts throughout the summer to help kill the pain!. That extra belly fat puts strain on your back and will slow your recovery.

Good luck and do your homework!

****UPDATE: Check out my blog post on my recovery 6 years later.


413 thoughts on “Road to Recovery – Life after Microdiscectomy

  1. Dear Rick,
    I am really encouraged by your write up on your Micro-discectomy for herniation between L-4/L-5. Two months ago I had a similar surgery, to be exact on the 15th of April, 2010. I’ve been following all the advise given by the Doctor and sofar the result has been excellent. As you rightly recommended the key to success is walking and walking, but walking within limits.
    I am about entering my 3rd month, and the terrible pain on my right leg together with the numbness on my big toe and back heel are almost gone. What i’ve realised is that one should not be over confidence on the torturous road to recovery, and should equally not be despondent whenever the pain comes and go.
    The key is to remain focus on the advise given by Doctor, and carefully watch what you take in to your mouth. In my own case i’ve started light swimming with light stretching excercises, it is my wish that in the next few months i will be back at the gym.
    Finally, i must confess that your article has removed the fear of prolapsed that one has been reading in the internet. For once there is somebody like you who has come out of it.

    Thank you, my kind regards.

    1. i had the microdiscectomy on 2/22/12 (10 weeks ago) and ran about 1 mile for the first time this week. two days later, i feel pain in my back–best described as “flared up” and “tight.” hoping it’s just a result of the impact and will go away soon…is that kind of occasional pain normal?

    2. Dear Rick and everyone else ..
      I’m going in tomoro for the L4L5 level…my.anxiety level.right now is in full effect…

      Any thoughts?

  2. Hi Rick. I am glad to hear that you are having a successful recovery, and can sympathize with the misery you have gone through. I had a microdisectomy L5-S1 on July 9th and here I am almost 4 weeks into my recovery. The pain I experienced prior to the surgery was extremely excruciating, the pain would start from my buttocks and radiate all the way down to my toes, I was unable to walk even 50 metres. After the surgery I felt pain relief immediately, and in my 4th week I am walking around, although a little dis-coordinated due to the loss of reflexes (it feels better every day though). There is still slight numbness and pins and needles but the doctor has told me they will go away. I just want to tell everybody in recovery to be patient as it will get much better with time.

    1. Thanks Vishvender. I haven’t posted much in the past few months, but I can tell you that recovery requires a great amount of patience. There are going to be times where you feel almost zero pain. In my case, I lapsed into a false sense of security and tried to come back a little faster than I should have. This was around months 7-8 of my recovery. I played some golf, some softball, and did a little more running than I needed to. Some of the pain came back, but the doc assured me that this was normal and that I should take it easy and try other things like swimming, stretching, walking, and even a little martial arts (which is great cardio, and very low impact!). I think doing more low impact workouts is what turned things around for me. The entire month of July and now into August have been generally pain free. Got about a month to go before it will be my one year anniversary of having the surgery. My goal is to spend year 2 increasing the amount of runs per week along with distance. I turn 40 in 2012 so I hope to run a marathon that year. We’ll see!

      1. Thanks for all the advice Rick. I have started swimming and light walking, and I am slowly regaining the strength and reflexes back. As you said I do have those days where I feel almost no pain and others where the pain is there but the key is to remain positive. I wish you and others good luck and hope that your marathon is a blast. Cheers.

  3. rick,i also had l-4/5 surgery back on july 8 2010,i was doing great on the 3 mile daily walks until i went to colo and attempted a 14er which set me back a bit and made me increase my beer intake just as you described. funny how that happens isn’t it? i have been in a slump now not doing the walks and trying to run a new business so i’m finding all kinds of excuses not to work out. i want to know what you think about the p90x workout for people like us after surgery. i used to be an avid runner and yoga guy so i’m hoping i can do this workout w/o concern of injury. any thoughts? thanks man


    1. Thanks for your comment Craig. I would stay away from P90X for now. The disclaimer on the video says that anyone with any type of back problems should not do the program. I had been doing P90X for about 8 weeks before I popped my disc, and I can tell you, it’s the most extreme workout program I’ve ever done. That said, I loved it so much that I still incorporate a couple of the DVDs into my weekly workout routines (KenpoX – a quasi martial arts routine and Stretching). Both are great for flexibility and low-impact cardio. I’ve pretty much decided to stay away from running for now but have hope for the future. After one full year since surgery, I can honestly say that I’ve got about 95% of my strength back in my right calf/ankle area (which was the area where my nerve damage effected), and I barely get the hip pain that was so prevalent months after surgery. I’m doing dumbell lifts now – hi reps and low weight (even squats and lunges) and am shedding the fat. Keep in mind, you’re only 4 months since surgery, so just take it slow and do whatever feels right and gives you minimal pain, and delivers the best health benefits. Good luck and keep an eye on my blog. I plan on writing a bit more on a new workout program I’m doing that might give hope to others who’ve gone through microdiscectomy like us. All the best to you in your recovery and thanks for checking out my blog!

  4. Just came across this blog today. I have the same L4-5 operation coming up in three days. Since the herniation about 5 months ago, I’ve been walking crooked but getting by up until the last few weeks when I’ve hardly been able to walk at all without lots of pain. Tried epidurals, etc and nothing has helped so it’s time for surgery. I’m an generally an impatient person so your words have come at a good time. I plan to certainly take it easy for a while. Can’t wait to get rid of this leg pain.

  5. Hi Rick, once more thank you, i wrote you in June 2010 expressing my happiness with my recovery rate after reading your article.Six months after it is now euraka, the radiating pain on my right leg is all but gone, the numbness on my big toe is gradually giving way, and the lipping while walking is also gone.
    The road to recovery for me entails being patience, walking, stretching excercises as recommended. and watching what i eat. Already I am back at the gym but only walking on the thread mills and bicycling.
    I also avoid sitting in one place for more than 2hrs without standing and walking, pending down unnecessarily, picking any kind of weight i consider abnormal and jogging, However, taking things easy and not being impatient is the secret behind quick recovery.

  6. Hello All..I am exactly one week post-discectomy. I seem to be doing pretty well. I am trying to walk daily. I was not in excrutiating pain just prior to my surgery, but I have had this L4-L5 disc hearniation for approx 2.5 years now, and had a bad episode in May of 2010 that caused some nerve damage and some numbness in my first three toes of left leg. I realized if I don’t do something about it, that nerve damage will become worse and cause other problems…so I decided it was time for surgery. I was wondering if any of you experienced any slight leg pain or soreness in opposite leg after surgery. My herniation is on left side, but I am experiencing some slight pain when I walk on the right side. Also, the burning sensation I sometimes got on left inside of foot, I still feel at times when I bend a certain way. Is that normal? it’s only been a week..and I’m thinking since the nerve has been traumatized I may feel those things for a while…or should they be gone since the herniation was removed and there should be no pressure on the nerve?? tks!

  7. Happy that I found this post,
    I had Microdiscectomy on my L5/S1 just last week, 1/19/11. Had a severely ruptured disc from a work incident which pinched my sciatic nerve. I COMPLETELY understand that pain everyone speaks of. Worst weeks of my life. The leg pain seemed to vanish after the surgery but just recently I have been getting a little pain in my left buttock, not as bad as it was, but still pain none the less. Im hoping its just a raw nerve healing itself. Great to be able to read and write about this with people who are or have the same experiences. Tommy

    P.S. What did everyone do with all the time off ??? Im going insane!!!

  8. i want everyone to know about the versaclimber machine. to those that were active like i was i have finally found my machine. i had one in my 20’s and gave it away after kids started coming and i pretty much had forgotten about it. after having my surgery i became very frustrated at how limited my workout options were. this machine will kick your ass,give you a full body workout quickly and there is zero impact on the lower back (obviously ask your doctor about it and then try one before buying) hope this is helpful. also to tommy regarding pain after surgery. sounds like we had similar issues. my surgeon told me the sciatic nerve heals slowly,1 inch a month. so i could expect to take a year to heal completely. i had my surgery back on july 8 2010. i feel scary good now,i sometimes have to catch myself from over exerting myself.every so often i will have a tinge of discomfort. you will get better. this website was very helpful to making me relax in my mind about what was and is going on w/ the back.

  9. I am one day out after a microdiscectomy on 3/16/11. The pain is about what I thought it would be. It’s hard to sit at all so I lie down or walk so far. I am walking every hour for about 15 minutes and it feels better the more I move. I had only one question for anyone having this same thing, before your surgeries, what was your back pain like? I have to say that the years of back pain are more concerning than the pain and numbness from the disc rupture which started three months ago. Compared to back pain, the leg pain was something I was able to deal with. My surgeon feels the disc has been the issue all these years of chronic intermittant pain I’ve had. So again, what was back pain like, if any, for you guys?

    1. I am 9 days post l5 microdiscectomy. The main pain was in my back with some radiating into hip and leg. Still surgical pain, but up and around.

  10. It’s so cool reading the different stories and experiences. I am 32 and had microdiscetomy L4-L5 on June 30, 2010. It has been 8.5 months. I feel my surgery was a success. I was very worried about my active life after surgery. I am an avid mountain biker and rock climber and wanted to come back to both those at full speed. I had allot of scar tissue that caused some difficulties and nerve damage. My right calf has a slight bit of numbness and the ball of my right foot has a similar feel. The doc’s say it may go away with time but I don’t think it will. I started riding my bike about 4 weeks after surgery and began riding rough trails again shortly after that with no issues. I have been rock climbing three days a week now for the past 5 months and have had no issues. I have noticed that it took 7 months to really feel my full potential with flexibility and little things still loosening up with movement. Overall, I can’t complain.

    1. Michael, I saw that you’re a rock climber and had this surgery done. I just had my L4/5 operated on and I was wondering if your still climbing? my doctor said that I can’t climb for 3 months or so. Do you have decreased movement from scar tissue? does climbing hard or steep routes hurt your back? how about weight of the gear or hauling?

  11. I am about to get the same procedure on my L5-S1. I currently have a trip to Cancun also in about 2 two weeks and he has cleared me. I will keep you all posted during the recovery process. I am nervous but in the long run its best for me.
    I will just give a brief history of my issues. Two car accidents 1999 and 2003, both left back issues. I went to ER on 4 15 2011, got two shots of morphine, two Valiums and two other drugs..I was in drug heaven, but when the ER doctor told me to get up, i could not. When I sat down my right leg was burning and shocking pain. There was times my foot would feel cold to me but at touch it would be regular temperature.
    So tomorrow 4 20 2011 I will have the surgery. Not sure if I can update right away but I will keep all posted.

  12. Ok, finally home!!!! pain in my right leg is gone and numbness also. Pain is only in the surgery site. Doc has cleared me to fly in two weeks but has requested a lot of walking as that will help in recovery. Limited driving and lifting to 10 lbs, but I have to say I do feel relief in the lower back. it will take time to finally say that I am 100% but this is a start.

  13. Wow… this is the best read I’ve come across. Too many horror stories on the web regarding these procedures and it’s nice to have a positive experience to hope for. I have a discectomy scheduled for ten days from now for a severely herniated l5 s1. The pain over the past four weeks was unbearable and my first doctor was horrible. He did not request an MRI and treated me like I was shopping for meds. Finally I went to the emergency room and they performed the MRI and said surgery was a must. I was in to see a GREAT spine surgeon the next day who spent the time to explain everything, review the MRI with me and schedule me as soon as he could. I feel like there is now light at the end of the tunnel. I’m 37 with a 3 year old daughter and beautiful fiance. We are planning our wedding for the end of summer so I look forward to being able to dance with my two wonderful and supportive ladies. Good luck and best wishes to everyone who posted their stories, and thanks for sharing! God bless you all!

    1. George, this is almost exactly the same as my experience. My doctor wouldn’t listen and just kept upping the drugs to higher doses and more powerful medications. Eventually went in to the ER – twice. Second time, the night doctor (this was at 2.30am after no sleep for about 3 months) was such a jerk that I just said I wasn’t leaving until a specialist saw me. Basically, after a 5 minute consult the consultant admitted me, got me an MRI and I was operated on 5 days later. I’m 10 weeks post-op and have been doing well but last Wednesday (it’s now Saturday so 3 days ago) did an hour with a yoga teacher and have been in a pretty bad way since. Think leg pain back (from knee down and on the side) plus very painful back for moving/bending/getting up etc. Anyone have any thoughts on whether this means a re-herniation or if it’s just that the yoga irritated the nerve again?

      1. I hear what you’re saying about the yoga. I think it has a huge impact on the back. I just had microdiscectomy on L4/L5 pinching my sciatic nerve so badly for 6 months. I’m only 2 weeks post op & felt great for 5 days but have been back in hell so far. I hope I didn’t reherniate. Hearing that it takes 1 mo/inch of nerve repair/healing is something I will ask my doc. I’ve loved yoga but now am rethinking that. Will have to do granny style yoga! Maybe I’ll start a new trend. lol. My leg pain is still the same & now my surgical site/back hurts when it didn’t before. I wish everyone good luck w/ their issues. Pain sucks.

      2. Hi Linda,

        I am at exactly 2 weeks post op as well. I was feeling so great days 9-12, almost no pain at all in either my back or legs. Then yesterday I sneezed while lying down in bed and felt a sharp pain in lower back with second sneeze. Shortly after I noticed pins and needles feelings in both legs, which I have not felt since before surgery, also an increase in back pain and a burning feeling in right calf, which I also haven’t felt since before surgery. I am also terrified that i reherniated with the sneeze. I’m just trying my best to not think the worst and remain optimistic.. certainly difficult though! I wish you a quick and smooth recovery as well! Please update us with your progress! It is so wonderful to be able to listen to the stories of others going through the same trials :).

      3. I am almost 2 months post opp and still have nerve pain a little bit.. stressed out about this . But the doctor said it could take 6 to 12 months for the nerve to heal .. my flexibility is bad

  14. Thanks Rick for stimulating all of these testimonials. I am 26 and had my surgery a week before my birthday 5/19/11, because my insurance expired on my B-day. It’s been two weeks and I’m farting around town like an old man stopping every once and a while to sit on a bench and stare at the clouds. I have a little butt and calf nerve pain and a little pain on the opposite butt cheek which is new after the surgery. I too rock climb, ski and surf and I have have a feeling its going to be a while before I can do these things again.

  15. I agree that these posts are a breath of fresh air! – there are a LOT of negative stories out there.

    I had my micro (L5-S1) done on 5-19. Only after a few days I was walking 3-5 miles a day. I had some inconsistent sciatica in both legs but attributed it to the damaged nerve and inflammation from surgery. By week 4 I felt great and was walking 5-7 miles a day and was fully back to work (&traveling). Two weeks ago my surgeon released me to start doing some stretches/core work and very light weights/swimming/biking (i was VERY active prior to the herniation). He did not prescribe PT….said I could do it on my own. Unfortunately I believe I may have aggravated something after feeling some sharp pains while stretching. The sciatica is very minimal but I’m feeling some back pain on the opposite side of pre-surgery. I am still walking (trying to avoid bad scar tissue and it’s a great mental release) and icing like crazy but after 1 week I have not seen any improvement…….going to call my surgeon in the morning to get his thoughts.

    Has anyone else experienced pain after stretching?


    1. Jason, I had my L5-S1 discectomy on 5/30 and experienced light sciatica for the next 2-3 weeks. I also began walking, and my doctor also did not prescribe PT. About a week ago I began swimming. Last weekend I thought I overdid it with yard work, the swimming, etc, as I seemed to really aggravate my left leg and slight sciatica returned. Pain also seemed to reside in the opposite side lower back. I iced as well, and I have to say that I am better again with almost no pain or even noticeable trace of sciatica at all. I, like you, am probably overly worried everytime I feel something even slightly outside of normal, but remember the nerve heals VERY slowly. It’s the hand in the car door story – the surgery opens the car door, but your hand is still going to hurt for a while. I am not doing the stretching at the moment because I don’t want to aggravate anything, but I am staying active. Good luck with everything, and PLEASE, try not to over do it. Best wishes my friend!

      1. I have so many similarities with you, George. No PT from my doctor and anything more than very very light exercise aggravates my leg pain again. I also had the pain in the opposite side of the lower back since my surgery. I, probably unwisely, tried a yoga class last week and have been in quite serious pain (leg) since. Am feeling pretty anxious in case I’ve re-herniated.

      2. Rick, I am almost 7 months post op and like you, blessed with a great recovery. At this point it is truly like I never had anything wrong with me. I am very aware though, and don’t do anything I think will haunt me, like lifting anything heavy or painting a room, running, etc. To me its not worth the risk.I have excepted that some things in my life have permanently changed, so someone else will have to do them now. I am still stretching every morning and night which takes about 15 minutes per session. My pt said this is very important so the nerve doesn’t attach to the scar tissue while it heals. I am also doing 1 hour exercise three times a week for core strength. My husband says I am probably in better shape than pre surgery because I never exercised before. My advice is “easy does it”, walk a lot, I do not walk fast or anything, I just walked, a lot. Stretch, but be mindful of how, some are not good for your back. I was encouraged by this site, as other ones are all horror and doom, so I wanted to say you can recover and be normal again. I wish everyone the best and God bless You!

      3. Jennifer – I feel the same way you do about just not doing things that I know will possibly reinjure or reherniate. I worry especially as I never knew how the herniation occurred in the first place. I am 4 months post-op and still have some numbness/tingling in my right foot and some pain in the right calf – but nothing unbearable. I am hoping for it to eventually disappear – I have been told by MD that if it is not gone 1 year post-op most likely it will not go away. I still get pain in back if sitting too long and at the end of the day just from general tiredness. Trying to keep up my walking but wintertime it is a tough go and will not risk a fall. Not in love with the treadmill but have to get it going on there. I try and stay positive and tell myself that this is a life changing thing and I am thankful not to be laying on the floor anymore unable to walk or sit……..

        On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 7:04 AM, Rick’s Rants wrote:

        > ** > Jennifer Rautio commented: “Rick, I am almost 7 months post op and like > you, blessed with a great recovery. At this point it is truly like I never > had anything wrong with me. I am very aware though, and don’t do anything I > think will haunt me, like lifting anything heavy or painting” >

    2. I realize this is very old thread. . . but this same thing is happening to me now. Did yours resolve (the pain on opposite side from surgery)?

      1. Hi Karen,

        I had the pain on the opposite side of my body post-surgery. All in the hip and quad. My PT was not concerned as it didn’t radiate down my leg. 3 months post-op, it’s almost gone. It only comes back if I’ve tired myself out from exercise, I’ve sat too long, or my standing posture is terrible (it’s been quite a effort to sit and stand properly!). I always thought it was from overexertion and building the muscle back that was lost. I had a lot of muscle atrophy prior to the surgery since I couldn’t stand or sit without pain. I started yoga about 2.5 months after surgery. The first class was a shock to my back, but after that it’s been fine. A great exercise to relieve pain is child’s pose. I do it whenever I feel like things are getting stiff or compacted and it fixes me right up!

  16. Well I must admit this thread is a breath of fresh air. I was scheduled to have the surgery(L5) last Friday; however, my mother went into surgery for a tumor on her brain. So I postponed my surgery. To make matters worse I am taking the kids to Disney August 19th for 10 days and I was looking forward to being pain free. I am extremly active…all weekend warrior sports so the inactivity has been killing me. I too have been gaining weight and getting frustrated with the lack of functionality. My surgeon was amazed at how I was still walking with how large my herniation was. I did have an epidoral which took the pain down from a 10 to 3 so I have gained back my life to a large degree. I can finally play with my kids again. The sciatica was crippling. I have played college football but no pain can compare to this. My hip, my hamstring, my calf and the numb toes. So my surgery is looking like September. I am going to attempt some yoga to blow off some steam and work up a sweat. I am hoping a second epidoral will get me through Disney. My doctor would not do the surgery before I went for the fear of reinjury on a ride. Stay tuned!

    1. I am going to look into something called prolotherapy.. apparently should help with disc degeneration (my cause of herniations that caused sciatica and the whole 9)… if you have bad degeneration progressing like me… you are facing more surgeries in the future. anyone else hear of prolotherapy?

      by the way 9/10 weeks post surgery at this point and still no sciatica 🙂 back is still achey and that pain won’t subside bc of the degeneration, but at least i got rid of the sharp shooting pains and the nerve pain and leg numbness.

  17. Hello Everyone,

    Very nice to hear all the success stories. Being only 23 years old and having been discouraged from going under the knife was a bit difficult to deal with, however I am very happy that I went through with surgery despite the opinions of worried family members and friends. Only I knew the pain of severe herniation and oppressed sciatica. I had tried lumbar epidural injections (4 of them in just the past two years), physical therapy, chiropractors, etc. The only thing that would give me relief was being on extremely heavy narcotics, which is something no doctor should recommend as a resolution to a long-term problem. Being on Norco/Vicodin made it hard to work/focus and also gave me major constipation issues, which just made life miserable.

    I finally decided to have the MED (July 26, 2011) on L5-S1 like many of you and it is crazy to have had the pain I have been experiencing for the past 5 years immediately dissipate. My sciatic nerve was oppressed as well and my pain would shoot down through my right butt cheek all the way down to my toes. I can say that the only thing I feel so far is soreness (very dull sore pain where the incision is), and soreness all over my upper back and shoulders as well (I think the rest of my body is trying to compensate for my lower back at its weak state right now). In conjunction with these pains, I feel my entire right leg is numb (ever since I awoke from the surgery) along with my heal and achilles. I was assured that this is normal because the nerve was oppressed for a long time and the nerve needs time to repair itself. Imagine someone squeezing your arm really hard for a long time, once they let go of your arm, your arm would feel funny for awhile until it returned to a normal state.

    I am walking as much as I can and it helps alleviate soreness. The more you lay in the same spot, the more sore you will feel. I try wiggling my right toes when I’m sitting or bounce my right knee to try to get the feeling back on my right side. It helps bit by bit and from what the doctors say, it should feel normal in a few weeks.

    I am very happy with my decision to under the microendoscopic discectomy.. this is definitely going to change my life. I look forward to the day I can run again and do it pain free.

  18. I am very happy with my decision to go under the knife for the microendoscopic discectomy*** (sorry I didn’t proof read before submitting!)

    1. My Update… It’s been just a little over 8 months since my surgery. I started exercising very regularly again and as of late (2 weeks or so) I picked up hot Yoga. The first several classes made me feel so good, I decided to make it routine. I go MWF at 8 AM and it is such a great start to my day. However two nights ago I started feeling odd pinches and pains and it freaked me out. Did I push it too much too fast? I did notice that it was after hours of being on my computer in a laying position and decided that that was probably the problem. I need constant motion and for some reason although you’d think laying down should feel good, it really doesn’t unless I’m sleeping! I’m not sure if it’s because the core is not at all engaged or what? Anyone have thoughts on this? I did yoga again this morning and I felt great afterwards. Crossing my fingers that those odd pinches I experienced yesterday and the day before do not return.

  19. This is the first site that i have found that has made me happy……….I had a microdisectomy on l4/l5, just 4 weeks ago. I had back pain for 3 years and 2 children within in that time!!

    My youngest was born in January and the pain in my back ahd got worse. Then 4 months ago it changed and started with pain in my buttock and numbness and pins and needles down my leg. The doctor gave me pain killers and i started seeing a chiropractor, in which they said i didnt need to see doctor or go for an MRI scan like the doctor had advised. The chiropractor said they could make me better!!! The pain got so bad i couldnt stand or move much, so i managed to get an emergency appointmnet with a consultant and was admitted for surgery asap. I had my operation on the 2nd September 2011 and i am so pleased that i did. Apart from feeling achy most days im on the mend.

    The only thing im concerned about is after reading other information sites, that their out comes were not so good!!! I keep thnking is it going to happen again? What can i do to NOT go through that again? Im 33 and think why me?

    But you have put a smile on my face as you are all very positive and are on the same page as me with recovery.

    1. I understand what you are going through. On April 17, 2011 I had my 1st surgery for L5-S1. I was recovering to the point by the second month of recovery i was doing cardio workouts and then at the 3rd month light weight training. But then it happened…
      L3-L4 had a bulged disc but docs did not want to touch it as it was not bothering me at the time, Murphy’s law was in full affect. On Aug 18,2011 had my second surgery. Now on my second month of recovery hitting the gym again.
      This time the doctors assure me no more bulges so I should be good, but recovery this time is harder cause I never fully healed from the 1st one, but very positive.
      In order to assure yourself that this will not happen again, i was told to workout especially your core. Once you have a strong core your chances of hurting your back is slim and also weight control as that plays a big role in back pain.

    2. My concern is i have a 1 1/2 yr old and was wondering how parents deal with lifting or holding their child. Does anyone have any input on this. I go for surgery July 23rd. My son weighs 23lbs.

      1. I was wondering if you could tell me how this worked out for you? I have my surgery scheduled for next Friday and I too have an 18 month old and she weighs 23 lbs as well.

  20. Just had micro discectomy L4/L5 by emergency surgery 9/25/11. Feel incredibly better but are getting burning and lightning bolt shooting pain in left leg. Dr. says all normal and that I’m doing great. I notic that the more I walk the worst the shooting pain gets…..Any ideas????

    1. This is similar to what I experienced. One day my foot was hot, another it was a weird dull pain. Just follow docs instructions.. he knows your situation best. All I can say is this takes TIME .. write back a year from now! You’re going to feel a lot of different things between now and then!! Thanks for visiting my blog. – Rick

  21. Thanks Rick. Great place for people to post and really a great relief to read everyone else’s similar stories of recovery. I’m coming up on 4 weeks after L5/S1 microdiscectomy and things are progressing well. I’m walking 30 mins 3 times daily, doing neuro glides and transverse abdominus work with a pilates teacher who is also massaging the low back muscles. I highly recommend core work with an instructor as it will teach you good back care habits that will help you do everything you want to do. I’m also swimming every day (freestyle).

    2 days ago I stood, sat and walked for too long and am paying for it with buttock burning and slight tingling in my foot. I spoke to physios and the surgeon about this too as I had an episode of it at week 2. BURNING AND TINGLING AND NUMBNESS ARE NORMAL (sorry, but I need to keep reminding myself too). The nerves are healing; they heal really slowly; take time to regenerate and are easily irritated by over-doing it. I’ve been told it’s most likely chemical irritation and not mechanical folks, especially if you are just doing conservative stuff – so don’t worry that you’ve pushed the disc back out just by moving normally. My pilates teacher reminded me that unless you are in traction your discs are all, always moving. They take a few days to calm back down so I’m easing up for a few days rather than attempting to push right through it.

    But it’s all very frustrating isn’t it? I’m a competitive cyclist and used to riding hard every day so this is a pain in the ass (literally and figuratively). I’m learning to be patient although I must admit I’m not much good at it – and it seems that having a sense of humour is an essential ingredient in recovery.

    I had a turning point the other day as I realized that recovery doesn’t just happen – you can’t just wait to get better – it’s NOT automatic. Sounds obvious I know but I must be a bit dim! It will take as much work, focus and effort to get better as it did for me to get fit and strong enough to compete in races on my bike. So now that’s my goal. Good days and bad are as much about attitude as anything else. Fight for your back!

    Thanks again for all the positive stories of recovery here – it helps a lot.


  22. So glad to read all your posts. i have degeneration in three disc, but will be having a discectomy on my L5 only as this is the disc causing my nerve/leg pains. I am 31 and fear this will be the first of many surgeries for me 😦 i was 1st diagnosted in 2003 and have managed my pain until recently as i find myself bed ridden with pain, luckily surgery is set to take place in 3 days. i will sure to revisit with updates 🙂

    1. I am recovering from my second microdiscectomy on L5 in three years. My first surgery was a success but I think I went at it too hard, too soon. I am 58 years old and we men forget that our bodies are changing but in our minds we think like we can participate in life like we are 25. Listen to the doctor and walk, walk, walk. I feel so good so soon I feel like I can really get back at it. Not this time. I am following doctor’s orders. I still have my disc and hope to keep it.

  23. Hi everyone I’m one month post op a major L5 S1 herniation microdisectomy. I spent 5 months of agonising pain and worry till the point where I was popping upto 14 pills a day to take away the pain. I used to do Aikido, football and go to the gym and thought it was all over for me at the age of 35. The surgery put an immediate stop to any pain I had. I was walking within 3 hours post op to the toilet and back in bed. I had slight soreness and pain from the incision which lasted 2 weeks but I kept up my walking. I am now 1 month post op on 7/11/2011 and couldn’t feel better. I am taking it easy though as precautionary measures and am due to see my surgeon in two days to get all the does and donts off him. I will then start to ease myself into light exercises for my back. It’s so gd to hear the positive stories cos I had only read the depressing stories before my op. May God bless all of you with a long healthy and fulfilling life and thanks for sharing your stories. I’m sure they will ease the worry of people who at this moment are going through what we had to go through !

  24. I’m really glad I found this – this post and the comments have been my first ray of hope today: I’m on day 15 after my microdiscectomy… The first ten days went pretty well, but then the pain in my hip and down my leg came creeping back. It’s not awful, but not great either. I can only describe the feeling I felt today as dispar. I was just sure that I was right back where I started. As a super active 38 yr old who was a daily runner, I was crushed.

    Now reading this, I have some hope that what I’m going through Is par for the course, and that this still might work out okay with a little time… Thanks for all the positive stories – there are not many on the Internet, and sometimes people really need one.

  25. Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the wonderful blog. Like many others i followed your website for months since the injury and was glad to see positive results for
    most people.
    Im a 34 yo male, 190 lbs. Injured my back (L5-S1, 4-5mm with mostly left leg pain and occasional right) 7 months ago when lifting a very large sony TV to sell for my folks when the other person suddenly twisted and i heard a pop in my back.
    Anyhow, failed conservative treatment, spend
    thousands of dollars and now opting for surgery on my virgin back in 2 days. Ill keep everyone posted. Again, thank you for the wonderful public service.

  26. Hi there Rick,
    I wanna thank you for creating this Blog. Im 34 yo male. Herniated L5-S1 lifting a very heavy old Tv 7.5 months ago. Failed conservative treatment. Had MicroD Jan 17th. Pain is slightly less but mornings are worst. I know ive been compressed too long so Ill keep everyone posted on my progress. Im on day 8 and walking about half to one mile a day.

  27. Now its 5 months after my second discecotomy 9 months after the first one and it’s ok. I don’t have pain but I am sore and stiff whens its cold. I have tried physical therapy but that did provide some relief but not enough to say I am comfortable. Still have not been able to go to gym but have been eating healthy to shed the pounds but hungry to get back into gym format.
    Someone suggested kickboxing as to develop my core, has anyone here tried kickboxing especially with the history of back issues we all share…

  28. Am looking for more information, as my husband had L4L5 Microdisectomy just three days ago. It was amazing the first day to finally see him stand straight up for the first time in over 2 months. He noticed almost immediately that most of the sciatica pain in his left leg and buttocks had gone away. Today he twisted slightly and now has some pain again in that left buttocks area. I am reading that the pain can come and go and can be due to swelling, especially this soon after the surgery. We are icing his back, and he is also taking Norco, Robaxin and anti-inflammatories. Would love some feedback. Also looking for ideas regarding getting in and out of bed…his back is so stiff and he’s worried he will re-injure himself.

  29. Just posting a follow up Rick. Im on day 17 of my L5-S1 micro by my neurosurgeon. I have to admit, my pain was still going strong up until day 12, then started fading down. The pain is still very much there but not very intense. I know patience is the key but I want to let everyone know not to get depressed so easily. Stop reading negative blogs. This is very miserable I know and even a 50% relief would make me happy but im not giving up. Cheers to all and ill keep you guys posted. Im happy with the way things are going so far. Cant wait to get off the pain meds 🙂

  30. Hi Guys. I’m at 16 weeks post surgery (you can find me 6 days in earlier in this string).

    I’m a different person.

    I get virtually no pain (the occasional light burning sensation from nerve pain, which is fading in intensity). I can run, swim, surf and as a rider – i’m up over 3 hours. Recovery is long, slow and erratic but you DO GET BETTER.

    In my first few months, recovery was taking all I had and all my focus. Today, I hardly think about it.

    I highly recommend pilates and regular physio as you get stiff from protecting your back. Don’t be afraid to push your body (within reason). Pain in response to doing too much is not the enemy here; it’s part of the adaptation process of getting back to normal (just like getting fit takes work).

    Smile, be positive, be patient and believe you are getting better.

    Happy to answer any questions you might have.

    Good luck to you all!

    1. Andy,
      I have to say your post is very realistic as what to expect in the recovery process as Im just ending my 3rd week out from MD. It’s reassuring to know there is light at the end of the tunnel while the nerve repairs itself. I wasnt one of those that jumped up from the gurney in the hospital and was pain free. I am noticing a slow decline, more on a weekly basis. Thanks again.

    2. Andy, I am so happy to read your post. I am a 31 year old female that runs marathons and competes in triathlons. I had an endoscopic microdiscectomy 6 weeks ago. I am so ready to get back to running the most. I am up to 45 minutes walking each day and doing PT. The PT seems to aggravate my back the most. Not sure if I should keep doing it or not. My surgeon told me to start adding back the running in at about 7 weeks but I am a little scared. What are your thoughts?

      1. Hi Ashlinn

        Sorry it took so long to respond. Like adding training load, PT will aggravate your back. But my phsio reminded me that so does training – your muscles hurt and you get stiff (and sometimes injured). How are you going to get better if you don’t push the edge? Of course, I’m not advocating overdoing it and you MUST listen to your body. But don’t be afraid of it either. I still get pain if I overdo it in pilates and I’m over 5 months post op. The test is whether it settles down quickly again.

  31. Hello All !

    I am at just a bit over 3 weeks post surgery. I had a MicroD on my L5-S1. I had immediate pain relief on my leg pain, but as expected, still feel some radiating sensations now and then. I am completely off pain killers and muscle relaxers and 100% focused on my recovery. I agree with a few of the other writers, do not spend any energy on negative comments or suggestions that your surgery will be nothing short of a success. There is a thing of reading too much and there will always be more posts on the failures than the successes. That’s human nature.

    Recovery takes time and after surgery it is easy to focus on every little sensation, even those you may have completely ignored in the past. Do as the doctors say and remember we are in it for the long haul. I am doing a little over an hour of walking each day in three separate increments and trying to stay on my feet more and more each day. I am logging my progress in a journal so I know how things are going from day to day. Slow and steady wins this race. Good luck to all and keep your spirits up! There are many others out there fighting to get “back” to doing the things they love too. Good luck to all.


  32. Good posts, everyone.

    I has L5-S1 microdiscectomy on 1/24/12 after 5 months of right side pain. I had tried all the other remedies (chiropractor, epidural, physical therapy, narcotics), and nothing worked. I’m 40 and an avid exerciser who was in very good shape prior to all of this. But by the time of my surgery, all I could manage was 30 minutes on the stationary bike.

    The surgery went OK. The doctor said there was actually a lot more material compressing the nerve than he had seen in the MRI, so it was a big herniation and the surgery was a necessity.

    Now I’m almost 2 weeks out, and although the pain in my leg has dissipated, I definitely don’t feel normal. I still get shooting pains down the thigh, especially when I am in the process of sitting down, and also shooting pains (this is embarrassing) when I have a BM. I kind of dread toilet visits. Probably should be taking a softener.

    Nights tend to be worse than days, although I’m sleeping fine. During the day, I’ve been pretty active, walking half a mile to a mile a day on the treadmill. But sometimes I get pain while walking and have to stop. Also, some of the pain has migrated to my hip, which is a new development. Hip pain wasn’t a major issue before the surgery.

    I’m dreadfully afraid that I may have a re-herniation, but the fact that I can still walk so much more easily is an argument against that, correct? I walked two blocks the other day from my house to a restaurant and felt great.

    I realize there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. I’m curious how much I should be walking, and whether it’s OK to be sitting long hours at work, as I am.


  33. Awesome to have read this. I’m two weeks post discectomy S-1 L-5. I’m very active and a work out fiend so I know the frustration sitting here waiting to be well again and back at it. I’m 36 and have been in pain for over a year. I attempted chiro, pt and nerve blocks and finally conceded surgery was my only option.
    I have to say that the first five days were pretty miserable. Pain meds don’t really work too well on me…no idea why. I hardly take medication so i know it isnt because ive built up a tolerance.
    Two weeks out I am feeling so much better. I still get tired easily but the pain is all but gone. Biggest issue now is trouble sleeping.
    Can’t wait to get back to it but I’m following docs instructions to a t. Don’t want to mess my back up again.

  34. I’m not alone then! Great to hear you all doing well, I am on week 4 since MD. Still on paracetamol and gabopentin which is nothing to what I was on. Still get shooting pains in lower back the odd time and an ache if I am in bed too long, is this normal, no one else has mentioned the ache at this stage, terrified I will be the one it hasn’t worked for. Walking helps but can’t even begin to think about running or gym. Tell me it will be fine! Please!

    1. I had my L4/L5 back in November. Five weeks after I broke down and cried for the first time in my adult life. The leg pain was worse than before surgery, and I was sure I was going to feel like this for the rest of my life. Three days later, it was marginally better. A week later, better still… I was still feeling pain enough to put me in bed early on new year’s eve. I kept up with PT, and kept walking. Moving seemed to help. Fast forward to february… If I worked too long (more than say 10 hours) I could expect a miserable night. I only really felt better after a weekend of taking it easy, but at least the constant pain was gone. Now fast forward to today (April 3rd). I run three miles every other day, and walk in between. If I feel sore, I walk rather than run. Still feel some pain, but it is dull and distant, and not enough to slow me down. When I make the back mad, I don’t push it, but I feel so much better than I did when the back was hurt.

      It takes a long time to get to 100%, but I would definately say I’m at 90%. Weeks 3 and 4 (after surgery) were FAR worse than weeks 1 & 2 for me… Week 5 was my valley of dispair. Wait until weeks 6-8 until you start to worry or judge. I think because it is such a quick, non-invasive surgery, we think it will be easy. It’s not, but you will likely get better. Give yourself a full six months at least, but keep faith and hope!

    2. Elaine
      I’ve read your complaint of shooting back ache more after long stay in bed. Well, that is normal at the stage you’re in. Two years ago after my MD in April I had similar pains. I discovered that resting in bed for a longer period is in itself a problem when you’re not sleeping,or reading. Try changing your position when in bed. Pls check what you eat, in most cases being overweight has a lot to do with lower back pain.
      Be more confident, the road to recovery can be toturerous, and just like road to acheiving excellence that is said to be always under construction. It is not automatic, therefore don’t apply “Autopilot”. It’s gradual and manual.
      Wishing quick recovery

  35. Hi Elaine,

    Aches and pains are entirely normal. You’re muscles and tendons are in protection mode. They spasm to immobilize an area where you feel pain. This tires the muscles and they get stiff and achy from it, in my experience. Is till get it and I’m just past 5 months. Work through it, keep stretching and keep moving. Im sure it’s going to be fine

  36. I have a L5S1 disc protusion. Pain came on slowly in Jan ’12, had to drop intense gym classes but tried to keep active by cycling to and from work (7klms) and brisk 1 hour walks a couple of times a week. Tried physio, acupuncture, anti-inflammatories, endep but pain in right butt, calf, ankle, foot became increasingly debilitating. It’s now April and I can only walk a few metres before shooting pain becomes unbearable and numbness in right toes/foot signals nerve damage. Sleep is disrupted by throbbing pain. Have booked in for discectomy on May 9 with back surgeon with reputation for being “conservative and the best”. Still, desperate measures for desperate times. So good to know that others have felt the same and recovered. Will post outcome …

    1. Surgery went well, I was completely pain free and felt I had a second chance at life. The, a month ago – three and a half months following my surgery – I had a sudden onset of lower back pain. Over the next few days, groin pain, which is what preceded my severe sciatic pain. It eased off a bit then last week, full on sciatica. An MRI says a further herniation but with “no nerve compression” which i’m finding hard to believe, given my pain. I am devestated to be back at square one and yet to see the surgeon for treatment options. voltarin, neurophen plus don’t seem to work. panadeine forte spins me out. I am thinking of a TENS machine for relief – has anyone tried this?

      1. hi Kat, i am sorry to hear about your experience. I had an op and the result was brilliant. 4 months later i sat on some very poor furniture and over the course of a few weeks the back pain came on and now i have very painful sciatica in the same leg. I felt so gutted but am now resigned that i need to accept the fact it has happened and get help for it. I have been on. A few weeks of dicolfenac as i find that the best, along with tramadol and paracetemol. I am still crying out in pain at times(gosh. This is depressing) but doing my best to keep going. I dont know about you but i have found the pain harder to take post op- my body is angry it is feeling this way again! I hope you have some joy with the consultant . I have an mri with dye i think on monday. The positive i did get from consultant was that sometimes these things can go by themselves, and shrink back. Or an injection may be effective this time- an operation is not always necessary.

        I am going to see if losing weight will help. I am not overweight but at the top of healthy bmi and about ten pounds heavier than i was a couple of months ago. Many people with milder sciatica have told me it is worse when they gain weight.

        Hang on in there and please keep me posted. Hope you get some relief soon.

      2. Hi Kat, I am just wondering how you are getting on? After my reherniation I had a very successful nerve root block which actually helped rid me of almost all sciatic pain. 9 weeks later I foolishly wore heels on a night out. Felt fine but over the next two days stiffened up to the point where could no longer stand upright. Then I saw an emergency osteo. He sorted out the back only to find sciatic back with a vengence. It is middle of the night and cannot lie in any position without pain. So depressing. Although the first surgery was fantastic I have been told a second one would be more risky and just can’t face it so soon after the first. And I feel that at 36, my spine has a lot of years ahead and not sure how wise it is to have two ops in the same place so close together. Sorry to be miserable on such a positive forum. Guys right now for anyone worrying you have reherniated, in my experience, it is dramatically noticeable if you do – it is not questionable.

        Sorry again for being miserable but I am so fed up. If anyone has reherniated and had a successful second surgery I would love to hear about it. Thanks


      3. Hi Jane,
        I have some news to share which I hope you might find helpful. I started taking Lyrica in early October, and I also had a steriod injection in my back around that time which was extremely painful and didn’t seem to help at all. I also saw a physio who gave me some really gentle “movements” to do that would help open up my spinal area and give some space around the sciatic nerve. After a couple of weeks, I felt so much better. I went OS for four weeks travel – planes, trains and automobiles – in December and had no trouble at all with the long haul flights, dragging suitcases around and walking around 10 klms a day. But I was taking two lyrica and one celebrex a day. Towards the end of the holiday, I even hit the treadmill (walking fast+ uphill) and stationary bike. I felt great! Returned to work (fairly sedentary) in Jan, and reduced the meds but now my angry nerve is giving me some trouble. Not bad pain, but enough to set off my fear of something worse coming. I saw the physio today who I think really does know what he’s talking about. He got me back on the gentle moves to help relieve the nerve and has got me walking and cycling as much as I can, as this seems to help. He wants me to take special note my working set up (i have been at a standing desk now, but he thinks i need a block/footrest to rest one leg on while standing as well). I’m also upping the lyrica again as this really does seem to be a wonder drug for me and I am suffering no side effects (I just hate being reliant on drugs). The other thing the physio has got me doing is hitting the gym to resume my usual workout (no hard core cardio which i did prior to sciatica) but in a scaled back version. He reckons he can get me back doing gentle jogs in six weeks (!!). I don’t know how this will all turn out – I am hoping for the best, of course. I will keep you posted. I really feel for you – there just doesn’t seem to be one right way to get better. BTW what did the MRI tell you? I have been told that if there is no compression of the sciatic nerve then the nerve will eventually settle and people can go on to resume their normal lives. Good luck Jane.

  37. Hello, thanks to everyone for taking time to post here. I’ve been reading so many stories of misery and failed surgeries…it fills me with hope to read your posts and hear of improvement. I had L5-S1 microdiscectomy on 4/11/12. I’m 5 days post-op. Prior to my surgery, I could not stand erect, was walking hobbled, had horrid lower back spasms and excruciating sciatica that paralized me with pain. I’ve dealt with sciatica on and off since i was 18 (now 39), but it would mysteriously disappear when I was younger. I’ve done PT for three different flare ups over the last few years and was successful with that but this February had lower back pain and stiffness that made it hard to stand up and then it developed into full blown sciatica with not being able to stand erect at all. I couldn’t get into or out of bed without having the most unbearable pain in my life or get on/off toilet either. I have a 8 mos old baby to take care of and couldn’t be left alone with him due to my being incapacitated by pain with no warning. Finally after 6 weeks of PT, Pain killers, 2 epidurals and time, I decided I had no choice but to have the surgery.

    I felt immediate relief in the recovery room but did have some phantom pain in my right glute. Dr. said that is normal. Over the last few days I’ve been getting an occasional ‘JOLT’ of sciatica from glute to foot. I’m hoping that it is just the nerve adjusting to its new normal. I also find it difficult to climb stairs, my right leg feels alternately weak and like it’s on the verge of one of those painful jolts of sciatica again. I’m kind of stiffening it to stabilize and not set off the pain. I’m wondering if anyone else experienced this during their recovery? I’ve been stepping down my pain meds, hate feeling sleeping and dopey….taking 2-3 percocets and 2 gabapentins a day.

    I was in such pain before, I was to the point of wanting to be put out of my misery if that was how life was going to be. The pain meds and epidural did nothing to touch the pain. I am so fearful of that kind of pain returning or of re-herniating the disc. I am a super active person and fitness was my life prior to this pain. I am going stir crazy not being able to do anything but short strolls. I can’t take care of my baby bc of the lifting restrictions and that is very hard emotionally. He doesn’t understand why mommy can’t get on the floor to play or soothe him during the night.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated on the jolts I’ve been feeling. i know the nerve takes a long time to heal but fear that I’ve already reherniated.I don’t see my surgeon for another week.

    1. Hi I was wondering how long before you were able to pick up and hold your son again after surgery..I am in same predicament. Are you doing good reherniations?

  38. Hi, I was so happy when I stumbled upon this blog. Thanks for all the positive vibes! I had my L5S1 MD on 4/11/12 and its been so helpful reading all the comments that sound so familiar. There was never an ah-ha moment for me, I just had a few backaches last year, but no pain to keep me from doing things. I too am very active and athletic, I am a 46 yr old mom, I have horses, so I ride a couple times a week in addition to 2 hour power walks up steep hills 4-5 times a week. Out of the blue, on March 10, I woke up sore and stiff and by 9 am was crying on the floor with intense sciatic pain. I stupidly thought it would go away so I suffered all weekend, but ended up in the ER. The valium and the shot I got in the bum cured the sciatica instantly but within a day my right foot and calf went numb. (it might’ve been like that too but with the sciatic pain maybe I didn’t notice) After hobbling around my house like a penguin for a week, I went for an MRI which showed the disc bulging. Well, the surgery went well but my foot is still numb and now I feel the sciatic nerve flare up when I sit up from laying down. The good news is I can walk normally; toe to heel, my calf has some feeling, but not 100% and the incision is healing fine. I have been doing a lot of research on this condition and reading every forum out there to learn about recovery. I have probably the least amount of patience of anyone, plus omg its so frustrating having my family (2 teenagers eek) and husband do every little thing for me. Today I sent my husband out to buy a reacher so at least I can pick things up. I am really paranoid of re-herniating so I am being extra careful – no bending, twisting or lifting. I go for my post-op dr visit in 8 days and then start PT the next day. I am walking around the house every hour for about 10 minutes with my walker, but when I read all these comments, everyone else seems to be walking more. Is everyone else using a walker? I can walk a little on my own but am more comfortable with the security of the walker. I’m really worried about overdoing it. I haven’t been taking any drugs; don’t like feeling droopy, but last night at 3 am I woke up to very ugly sciatic pain. Oh no! So I took 2 oxycodone. I know it takes time and patience. Thanks for listening, its nice to see success.

    Good luck everybody and may we all look back and remember this as nothing more than a bump in the road.

  39. Just had l5s1 microdiscectomy 3 weeks ago on March 28th 2012. I was in excellent shape prior to surgery as my PT said be prepared for significant down time from the gym, so for 2 months prior to surgery I worked out 4-5x per week. I feel much better post op, but my calves get tender or sore from walking. They say it will go away in time, just the nerves.

    I am very anxious to get back in the gym. Can everyone provide an update for 2012? I have read that reocurrence is common & praying & doing everything recommended to avoid that situation.

    I want to work out!


  40. Hi Rick,
    I’m 22 and I had a microdiscectomy at L4/L5 three months ago. I was pretty athletic and used to dance, but all that stopped last year because of the back pain. After the surgery, I’m almost without pain (except some minor twinges on bad days), and I’m really looking forward to getting back to my old routine again. But as u said, I’m doing what my doctor said, so basically stretching, swimming n walking for now…but I’m much encouraged by your article. I still have some numbness in my little toe, probably because my nerve was rather badly pinched by the huge chunk of herniation that had to be removed (the biopsy report said the removed tissue measured 5×5 cm squared!)…but I’m hoping I’ll be absolutely ok soon…and thanks a lot for sharing your experience. It made me hopeful of dancing and running again. 🙂

  41. I have been reading these entries and using the information here a lot lately. It helped me a lot about what to expect and gave me support. Thanks for your contributions especially to Rick. Iwanted to share my experiences with you hoping that it would help some of you. I am a 41 yrs old female. Little over two months ago I had to carry a very heavy suitcase 3 storeys up at Geneva airport because elevator was broken. Following three days in Chamonix I was in ski boots pushing myself several hours a day. On the third night I notice I can’t turn in the bed and I am in extreme agony. My body started to bend one side. That day I saw a PT and a kinesiotherapist. PT was thinking probably it is muscle related. KT however immediately diagnosed it as herniated disk and told me it would take about a year to heal. Following few days i kept visiting other health professionals. I did one emergency room visit in Chamonix, they did an Xray and told me that I will be alright, sent me home with lots of pain medication. A highly recommended osteopath in Paris gave me a back brace and send me home. Nobody told me that I should see a specialist. Back in London I went to see a PT, few exercises he made me do caused excruciating pain without any improvement. Finally I made an appointment with a specialist. As soon as he saw the MRI, he pointed out the big bulge between L4/5 and he suggested microdiscectomy. I should have accepted this right away! He also said I have other options if I want to go ahead more conservatively. I looked around to make a decision, took a second opinion from another doctor and talked to several people. Most discussions on the internet and suggestions of people who had similar issues in the past directed me to the steroid/epidural injections and physio. Two months! Huge amount of agony, discomfort, sense of entrapment. During this period, besides regularly working with a PT I have also visited a chiropractor and another osteopath. Nothing really worked except PT managed to make me more straight. This straigtening shifted the pain from my back to my lower leg and it became very intense in my left buttock. Finally 5 days ago I had the microdiscectomy. I wish I had it earlier! My worries about scar tissue, embolism in the leg, etc etc were baseless. My doctor used a special gel to prevent formation of scar tissue at the operation site and he used dissolvable stitches. Apparently the bulge was very big. Basically nothing was left in the disk, it was all out pressing on the nerve. Pressure was so much so that my nerve flattened like a ribbon. Very scary. I am glad my doctor was very experienced. The operation itself took less than an hour. I woke up under two hours. First few hours there was a lot of pain at the site of the cut. They gave me morphine. They put special anti-embolism socks on my legs, also wrapped a machine to help with the blood circulation to prevent embolism. I did not need the bed pan for toilet. A few hours after I wokeup, I walked to the toilet on my own. First night I couldn’t sleep well. Second day I was feeling so much better. There was some stiffness at the site of surgery and pain but it was ok. Nurses regularly gave me paracetamols (1g, 4 times a day), tramadol 1-2 tablest 4 times a day. Twice a day they gave me antiinflammatories, Voltaren. I walked up and down the corridor of the hospital twice. Third day I left for home. I had a very good night sleep. Fourth day I was feeling very good, did two short walks in our neighborhood. Later in the day I had severe diorrhea. This made me very dehydrated, took my strength also worsen the pain on the site of th surgery due to the unfcomfortable long time I had to sit at the toilet. Today is the fifth day. Things are better. Due to yesterday’s extreme diorrhea related stretches, I feel more pain in my back. There is a little bit of pain in my lower leg and buttocks but it is nothing serious. It is like more of a sensation rather than a real pain. I will try to remember and write here again about my healing process. Good luck to you all. Aren’t we all so lucky that the medicine is so advanced today?

    1. awesome Leda.. very happy for you. Once I did it.. that’s exactly how i felt.. “why didn’t I pull the trigger sooner?!” Look forward to hearing of your progress.

    2. An update on my status almost 3 years later. First year after surgery I was quite pain free, did lots of activities, continued skiing etc. I went to the physio but couldn’t focused on core strengthening much, which was a mistake. One year after surgery, I did a deadlift while organising the house and I felt something in my lower back, then pain started again. This has worsened after a vigorous spin in the fun park. My left site was in spasms again, hit my left buttock, experienced huge amount of discomfort. 6 months later (1 and 1/2 years after surgery) I decided to see the doctor again. MRI showed recurrent hernia. Doctor was quite surprised cause previously he thought almost everything was out. He suggested another surgery. Unlike un-operated hernias, operated ones are unlikely to heal on their own he said. I talked to a second doctor, he told me to wait for a few months. During this few months I thought it is already screwed up so I can go ahead and do yoga. It actually became better. Yoga helped my core strength and also stress levels, which controls the inflammatory response of the body. Still I would be careful and do only certain things. During this time, while I was getting ready for a flight and running around crazy and doing things, a weird twist and agonising plane journey afterwards, I went into spasms again. I was bent and again in huge agony. When I went to see the second doctor again he also told me I should have the surgery because recurrent hernia is unlikely to heal on its own. I talked to my physiotherapist, he told me, he had seen patients with recurrent hernia, some recovered and managed without having the second operation, some did have the second operation and recovered. I decided to wait. Now almost 3 years after first surgery and 1 and a 1/2 years after recurrent hernia, I am managing but experiencing pain and discomfort at times. Especially when I sit for long, felt cold, even stressed, unexpected rapid balancing acts also aggravates the pain. I am still thinking about having a second surgery. But my family thinks perhaps it is alright as it is, no need to take the risk. If you have any experience and thoughts on this, please share them with me.

  42. I am 42 y/o and 2 days post op. My left buttock pain is no longer there when I get up from bed or from a chair, just a little pinch intermittently when i’m walking. Mostly having alot of back pain at the surgery site. I am hoping to return to my job as a physical therapist in 2 to 3 weeks and get back to cycling and weight lifting eventually, which the dr. said not to do for 6 to 8 wks. So far I feel very optimistic.

  43. btw, my history involved a 7mm disc bulge at L4-5 with L buttock and foot pain for 6 years. Great response to 3 epidurals but pain returned when attempting anything that involves flexion or rotation of my spine in the gym. I haven’t been able to cycle, which I was doing up to 40 miles on level surfaces and steep hills. I had continued to weight lift up until 2 days before surgery, although about 30-40% lighter and modified movements. Also planning on trying to get pregnant again so this was a decision I made after 6 yrs of conservative treatment such as physical therapy, massage, epidurals and tons of core strengthening.

  44. i had the microdiscectomy on 2/22/12 (10 weeks ago) and ran about 1 mile for the first time this week. two days later, i feel pain in my back–best described as “flared up” and “tight.” hoping it’s just a result of the impact and will go away soon…is that kind of occasional pain normal? and CONGRATS on your progress 🙂

      1. Thanks so much. Wasn’t sure if I’d get any responses on this post and am “thrilled” 😀 to be receiving and leaving comments for others!! BTW, you’re right…I’m feeling much better. 🙂

  45. Does it matter if you have an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon perform the microdiscectomy? My pain is mainly in my low back and my glute along with foot tingling.


    1. Hi Tim,

      I’m no expert but from everything I’ve heard, you are likely better off with an orthopedic spine surgeon as this is caused my a mechanical problem. While it does affect your nerves, it is not a nerve problem that otherwise a neurosurgeon would be more suited to. That said, I think track record; how many of these they’ve done is the better measure. I had an orthopedic do mine and he did a great job!

    2. more or less depends on your surgeon 🙂
      i had surgery by neurosurgeon 9months ago and ocaasionaly though i get some tingling but i am much much better than what i was before. mind you i had micro-d at l4/5 and l5/s1 and both were crushed completely 🙂
      as of now i do exercise 1.5hour daily (started 1 month after surgery) to strengthen my core muscles and i am taking much care of my posture and not lifting any weights.
      all the best!

    3. Over the year and a half of having my pain/herniated L5/S1, I saw two neurosurgeons and two orthosurgeons. It wasn’t until I saw the fourth (and final!) surgeon (ortho), that I realized both of the neuros said the surgery wouldn’t be necessary….(unless I was pretty much losing bladder control!). BOTH orthos said they recommended it and would do it. 🙂

      1. megan, you are only 3 month post surgery.. i am certain that you should not be running now 🙂 be little patient and it will be great meanwhile you can do some cardio or core muscle strengthning exercises

  46. I’m going to have an ortho do my microdiscectomy. I just hope I am making the right choice to have this done. I am walking with a limp and both the neurosurgeon and ortho recommended surgery. I read that long term results are the same whether or not you have the surgery or not. I just don’t see how I can improve when I have made no progress with other conservative treatments. I paid 750 dollars for use of the DRX 9000 spinal decompression and the activator method of chiropractic care with very little results. Thanks for the info.


  47. I agree it is nice to hear some success stories on this post. I am having the microdiscectomy tomorrow at 11:45 a.m May 23, 2012. I bought a grabber device to pick up clothing off the floor. I hope this goes well and i can get back to a normal active lifestyle. I am a school teacher and I had to take a leave for the last three weeks of school because I could barely function or walk. I should have adequate recovery time since I don’t have to report back to school until September. I am concerned about the fact that my pain is in my left side low back and glute. I do have the numbness and tingling in my left foot and shin/calf sometimes. This concerns me because I read that people have severe leg pain and this surgery is less effective for back pain. I’m just hoping when they say back pain they mean centralized back pain. My mri shows the herniation pressing on my left nerve root and all my symptoms are on my left side so I am hoping this is the solution to my problems. Anyhow, I am scared. Thanks for reading.


    1. i dont know what timezone you are in so if your surgery is done hope it went great else all the best 🙂 don’t worry about numbness i can say mostly it will go away. i had numbness for over an year when i surgery and i am 9 month post op. i will say i am 90+ percent better. my numbness is 95% + gone ( it is following sine wave comes and goes) so don’t worry hope you recover well.. also
      i had central herniation so numbness came both side left and right. but now its gone 🙂

  48. Hi Tim,

    I feel for you mate. I had exactly the same symptoms and had the op you’re having 6 months ago. We are not all the same but I can tell you it changed my life. I had passed put from pain the week prior to the op and I walked out of hospital, stiff but pain free the day after the op. Be positive. Don’t be scared. You’ll be ok. An end to the pain is coming. Good luck!

  49. Hello…
    I am 1 week and 1 day post op for L5/S1 microdiscectomy. I am moving around much better than I was several weeks ago, however, the pain and numbness in my left leg has not yet found relief. My surgeon sent me for another MRI yesterday just to make sure that more of my disc has not herniated since the operation. From what I have read from other’s, it’s a long process. So, I am going to be patient and hope to get back to somewhat normal in a reasonable period of time. I am a licensed massage therapist and have been out of work for almost 2 months, and I don’t anticipate returning to my profession after I’ve healed. Time to find a new career! Good luck to all of you and be well.

  50. I had my second back surgrey,first one in 2006.I just was wondering is it normal still to have leg pain after four weeks after surgery?

  51. I had MD on 4/11/12 and also still have pain in my glute area and sporadically down the leg into the foot. Can tell the nerve is irritated. Icing and motrin help some. I am doing PT and saw my surgeon at 4 weeks due to my concerns with ongoing pain. Have been reassured by all that this can be normal and the nerve can take months to heal. One of the assistants in the office said it took a year before his pain went away completely. My PT said that with any new activity it’s to be expected to have some discomfort. He also explained that the nerve does not heal in a linear fashion and that it could be very sporadic. Has anyone else had an epidural performed or a shot in the piriformis after healing from MD? I’m wondering if that would help the nerve and scar tissue to settle down? That’s where I feel all the burning and searing especially late at night.

    1. Hi Julie,

      It’s still really early days. I’m past 6 months and still get a bit of burning – especially at the end of the day. It’s also worth bearing in mind you might be getting a compensation injury, where parts of your glute are doing more work as you protect your back with other muscles and they get over-worked and sore. Either way, it’s to be expected. Make sure you are keeping up your PT and remaining active and nicely stretched. Those neural glides are really important in healing scar tissue in the sheath around the nerve too

      1. Hi Andy,

        Thanks for the info. What are neural glides? I’m not familiar with that. It’s so reassuring to hear about other post-MD experiences. It’s frustrating how slow the healing process is. I thought I’d be back in the gym by now doing light weights and maybe some low-intensity spinning. Just walking can trigger high levels of nerve irritation, so I haven’t attempted anything more strenuous. Even PT in the pool caused quite a bit of irritation. Anyway, thanks again for the follow-up.

  52. Wow – can’t believe all the feedback and stories everyone are sharing here. I started this blog with the hope that others would see it, get inspired and also not rush through their recovery process. Good luck to you all and be patient with recovery.. it takes a long time and is a life changer!

  53. Hey Rick – you should think about publishing this as a book, or e-book. It’s been invaluable for me and now (as you can see), I pretty regularly try to answer people’s questions as I know only too well how anxious the whole process can be. There’s so much negative stuff on the internet – your blog is the only positive one I found. Thanks again for creating it. I’m sure you had no idea it would have mattered as much as it does. Andy

  54. I dont know i am scared or what or is it normal as i mentioned above my pain is almost gone and i am 9month post op but still i can’t lift my leg straight completely(right) i can only lift to certain angle i think 70 degree or sth near . before surgery it was only 45 degree. also now i can sit on floor with my legs stretcthed earlier it was not possible for me to do that..
    is it normal ? to not to able to lift leg completely (90degree) ?

  55. For those who want to know when the leg pain eases, mine finally improved enough that around three months after surgery, I was able to stop taking Motrin (I’d been taking 1-2 a day). It’s been over a month now since I’ve taken one, and I’m four months out from surgery. I’m still not back to running though.

    The exercise bike has become my main form of exercise, as well as walking. I just started doing sit-ups and push-ups again, and I’ve done some weight lifting, but on machines, not free weights. I’ve tried to go on the elliptical as well, but that seems to bother my legs. I’m hoping I can get back to it. And I’m pretty much afraid to run. I’m worried I’ll aggrevate the nerve too much.

    1. Hi, I’m one year post op. Was a runner, miss it terribly. I have attempted a 1/2 mile here and there but later my back gets tight so I’m like you. I’m afraid to push it further than that. I also do biking and eliptical with no problems. At this point, I’m thankful for what I can do and not focus on what I can’t. I do miss running though!! Good luck.

  56. My physical therapist told me that doing sit ups for core strengthening should be avoided for people that have hurt their back. She said to strengthen your core do plank exercises. Sit ups are high disc pressure movements that could potentially hurt your back again. Also when training legs do lunges and avoid doing anything where you stack weight on your shoulders. I read one person was doing straight leg dead lifts to strengthen their lower back and that is one of the worst exercises a person cold do for back health.


    1. Yikes! Nobody does sit ups anymore do they?! Do pilates people – strengthen your core from the inside out… I’m 6 months out and never felt better (pilates twice a week)

  57. Here is my update. I am now two weeks post op and doing a lot of walking and elliptical. My leg pain is mostly gone and the foot tingling comes and goes, but is no where near what it was before the surgery. I still experience left side low back pain and am hoping time will take care of this. I usually experience it after my walks and then I ice it and that usually helps. I’m not using pain medication, ice is my therapy of choice. They took the staples out of my skin on Monday, however, I am to stay away from submerging the incision in water for some time still. I purchased a sleep number bed to allow me to find the right level of firmness for my mattress. I am hoping this will help in the future. I sometimes fear re-herniation so I give myself the straight leg raise test often and so far I have passed the straight leg raise test with no signs of re-herniation.



    1. great that your pain is gone. may i recommend you not to try SLR test now ( it obviously puts lot of pressure on your back (at stitches also)). also pain will come and go so if you get pain one day doesnt mean you have reherniated. my SLR is 80degree earlier it was 40-45degree …i am almost 10month post op thing is you need to just do some life style changes and be patient …in recovery… also i started my leg exercises 3 weeks post surgery and it took me 4-5 months to reach this level of leg raise. wait be patient and careful you will do great 🙂

  58. Thanks for the info Steve. I just get paranoid. This has been a crazy experience of ups and downs and I know I still have a ways to go.


  59. Hello everyone. Let me first say this is one of the best blog/sites I have ever visited. I am a 36 year old fairly athletic male and work as a police officer. 5 days post op for L5 micro. I had been experiencing major pain I’m my right buttocks along with severe pain in my calf. Tried the nerve block was no good. My decision for surgery was the weakness in my foot and big toe and the long term damage if left to its own devices. Well, i woke up to no pain in my calf or backside. However, still get a sharp pain down my leg when I roll over. Hopefully that will settle down and i will begin to get the strenghth back in my foot/ toe. I am able to walk without pain on the treadmill for 20 mins at a time. Biggest hurdle is the mental one and of course my lack of patience. Keep up the post everyone they keep me sane.


  60. Has anyone gotten back to running? I’m almost 5 months out from surgery and haven’t tried. I was a regular runner before the surgery, but since have just been doing bike, walking and elliptical, which keeps me in good shape. But I miss running. Still, I’m sort of afraid to go back to it because it’s so jarring; I’m worried my competitive running may have contributed to the slipped disc in the first place. Thanks.

    1. I’m 4 months out from surgery and tried running around week 9. The surgeon had said that would be an okay time to try some jogging. I was outside (concrete…eeks!!) and wearing old gym shoes (WHY didnt I think to replace my gym shoes post surgery?! It should be a given!). I only did about 13 minutes and TWO days later, my back flared up, as though it was “angry.” Thought I had backtracked entirely, but was reassured it’s normal. Haven’t tried since and I’m “afraid” to. Would suggest a treadmill or track when you do.

    2. It has been a year from my 1st surgery and almost a year of my second one. I still have some pain in my lower back and leg but not to the point to cripple me. I tried walking on treadmill with no success as it causes some pain. I have been working out on elliptical and that has helped a lot.
      I was inspired by a fellow karate/kickboxing student that just got their black belt. She had a broken back five years ago, she started nice and slow until her back got strong and her core as well.
      With that said, I joined Kickboxing and Karate, it has been two weeks and so far really good. to be honest my back feels lose and good after the workouts. These workouts are at night and I workout in the AM on the elliptical.
      So there is hope out there peeps. Just need to over come the fear and mental block due to the pain.

  61. Jason:

    I know what you’re going through. I had pain too off and on the first few weeks, and though I didn’t need any narcotics (I declined the prescription they wanted to give me in the hospital), I did need Lyrica for several weeks and Motrin for several months. As my surgeon said, the nerve had been bothered for a long time, and was going to bark for a long time even after the direct pressure was taken off, as it’s very sensitive. I’m now almost 5 months out from surgery and haven’t taken a Motrin in about seven weeks.

    It’s good that you’re able to walk 20 minutes. Keep that up and try to extend it to 30. I didn’t have problems with weakness in my foot, so I can’t speak to that and how long it takes to heal.

    1. Hey Dan,

      Thanks for the reply. Sounds like your definitely heading in the right direction. I had never heard of Lyrica, so had to google it. Might mention it to my Doc next time I see him if it’s still bothersome. I’m just taking a drug similar to Motrin called Nurfen and a Paracetamol called Panadol when needed.

      It’s seems to be a common theme amongst the group regarding getting back simple activities we took for granted prior, such as running. I have previously had two knee reconstructions (Aussie Rules) and was no where near as conservative in my rehab as I am this time around.

      Cheers for the advice and all the best mate. Let us know how you go with the running.


  62. I’m 6 weeks post op and still have numbess/pins and needles in my leg and foot. Also have some trouble sleeping at night as I’m finding it’s hard to get comfortable. I’m currently taking Neurontin before bed, hoping that helps. I’ve been walking almost every day, started out with a mile and have worked up to two and added some mild strengthening exercises. I was in great shape before this happened and find it difficult to do the things I took for granted. Has anyone heard of RSD (or CRPS)? My surgeon seemed to think I had it prior to surgery and now I am just keeping an eye on it to see if it has disappeared. My father suffered from it for many years before he passed away and I know full well how difficult it is to live with. Hope I do not suffer that same fate. I also hope that none of you do not have to deal with that.

  63. Hello, it’s been 13 days since I had surgery, and like many others it’s nice to hear some success stories, it has certainly perked me up!

    I didn’t realise just how much of a slog this recovery was going to be, however I have had noticeable improvements which keeps me going. I have had pain for a year and tried multiple ways to provide relief with not much luck apart from fentanyl patches that I started using a few months before my surgery. I am 25 and studying to become a design and technology teacher.

    First 2 days were agony for me, I ended up using my fentanyl patches until my 8th day so that I had some relief. These days were reasonably good, I slept ok and I was able to keep my self occupied by doing short sitting sessions making things at the table (no more than 15 mins at a time without a walk Inbetween). After the 8th day I felt that the patches were no longer necessary and came off them. This turned out to be a good decision in terms of time scale as since coming off the patches, I have had withdrawal symtoms, such as severe convulsions which would have been sheer agony a day or so after surgery, they certainly hurt me plenty those nights i got them. I have also had other typical withdrawal issues, and the lack of sleep is rather annoying and makes me feel low at times.

    However in the grand scheme of things, I am positive, I feel that little bit better each day in my back, and drug related issues aside, I think I am progressing well. I walk regularly around the house and do a 1.5 mile walk every other day since day 4. Walking makes me feel so much better, sitting makes my leg and back start to hurt a bit.

    What did you guys do to occupy your time during your recovery? I’m raring to get out and just do things but I know that is not sensible and suggestions of things to do during the day would be great. I certainly feel pretty lonely right now, my girlfriend is about the only one who seems to understand what I’m going through but she’s away for a few weeks, so even though she’s been super supportive, I still feel on my own and can’t visit her because I’m not allowed to drive, nor can I really go by train yet.

    I have not had a PT but I am tempted to go and see a private one, I tried contacting my surgeon after my doctor said that due to my age, PT would be beneficial for my recovery time. I would love to get cycling and swimming when it’s safe to, I miss cycling especially.

    Anyway, sorry to babble on, i hope everybody’s doing ok 🙂

  64. Hello, im a 32 yr old horseback rider who had her discectomy about 6 weeks ago. I just finished my first week back to work and, feeling strong, i spent the weekend at the horse barn and i will admit to you, i did lift some things over 10 pounds! After a busy day of shopping today, i felt some lower back soreness and mild leg ache ( like a ” stretchy ” feeling) on my right side andache in my right ankle, although prior my surgery all pain was on the LEFT side. Now im making myself sick with worry- i am in no means in great pain, but is this normal? I fear i have ruined the surgery, or am starting over, but now with the right side? Has anyone else have constant fear of “undoing” the surgery after say, carrying laundry upstairs? I think i am driving myself crazy with worry, & im not even sure if some of the pain is imaginary just because im paranoid? Please help!

  65. Mel, I think what you are feeling is normal. I am at about the same in my recovery – sometimes you feel like you can do more than you should. Be careful how much you are lifting and be very cautious with any movement that involves twisting and bending. Are you doing physical therapy? You should be concentrating on strengthening your core and low back. As well as getting a stretch to the nerve. I still have pins and needles in my left leg that have decreased somewhat. However, if I try and do too much, or am on my feet for any length of time, it starts to become irritated and I have to give it a rest.There is always risk of reherniation, especially after surgery. The area is unstable and overdoing anything can cause issues. Just be careful and give yourself a break! Focus on getting your strength back and learning how to function without hurting yourself. Be well and I hope you recover quickly!

  66. Wow, I love this site. I am 13 days post op from a L4 L5 microdiscectomy. THIS IS MY 2nd :(. This past one was a revision from 4 years ago. I really believed I over did it the first time and never gave it time to heal. I didn’t follow through with exercise and continued to do stuff I should have been really careful doing.

    So far, 13 days out, I am doing great. I still have some calves and leg issues in my left leg. I re-herniated the disc and it was in really bad shape impinging the nerve so I am expecting a slower leg fix. The doctor wanted to do a fusion prior to this surgery but I would not, probably because of all of those negative sites and he ok’d a revision.

    Like most of you, I am in a constant state of worry. I am 28 years old and had 2 surgeries and very little disc remaining which terrifies me. Is anyone else in the same situation as me and relatively the same age? I go back to the doctor on Monday and I am going to ask for therapy. I know I have to walk daily and do a daily stretching regime. I am walking 1 15-20 min walk ago. Today, I am going to bump it up to 2.

    What do you suggest with the little disc remaining, wll i be fine? Will I be able to play with kids and have an ok life? Also I notice my legs burn or ache when I lay on my right side, this never was the case, that typically was the only side I could be comfortable and now it isnt.

    Sorry for rambling. I was searching the web endlessly last night and this site actualy relaxed me enought to sleep. I just hope someone else has had 2 disc surgeries at the same level and in later 20s to help. It is mental more now than anything but I am overly cautious doing anything.

    Much appreciated feedback. Brian

  67. Brian I understand your pain. I don’t know much about revision surgery on a microdiscectomy. I hope the second time around will be successful for you. I want to share this story with you to hopefully ease your fear that if something does go wrong the second time you won’t feel that you will have to live a life of disability limitations and pain. Through my research and reading articles I found this MMA fighter that had a spinal fusion called an XLIF that was very successful for him. So what I am saying is follow the doctors orders, be extra careful, rehab the best you can and learn about the most up to date innovative medical options out there. Google XLIF procedure and read about it to hopefully ease your mind that even in the worst case there is still an option. I hope that the second time is successful for you and you can go on with your life worry free.

    Here is the story.


  68. well im at 4 weeks post op on l5 s1 bouged disk microdiscectomy and im walking atlease 2 miles a day small walks around the yard not lefting anything not bending or twitsting vary little soreness in my right cafe after my mile walks alittle numness in my foot after the mile walks witch i never had numness before surgery but over all im like 75% better becouse i went a year and helf with the disk bulged out major leg pain tryed evey thing from pt to cyro and when i went in for surgery i couldent stand for more then 2 mins with out the pain in my leg so bad it would almost make me wanna cry so im so happy where i am at right now i feel like evey day gets better WALKING is like the most importing thing u can do force your self todo it no matter what. but im vary happy with the surgery like some other people said i can lay in bed for about 6 to7 hours then i need to get up becouse i am a little sore when i wake up but i come right outta of it with in a few mins after getting up and sitting to standing im still a little sore too. im on no meds no pt yet hopeing by week 6 when i go back im good eough togo back to work. i wish no one togo though this pain that i went though i wish u all good luck with recovery remember WALKING

  69. Post micro L4-5 April 27, 2012. I’m about 13 wks post op and started back lifting light weights about wk 8, slowly progressing each week and doing stretching, cardio on the ellipictical and lots of planks and core stability exercises. At week about 1 wk ago I increased the weights by 5-10 pounds on various exercises and have been having pain in my 3rd toe, calf and hamstring, about 4/10. I was about 98% painfree up to that point. I hope it’s just inflammation as I had a similar set back about week 6-7 and it got better in a few days. Now its been 8 days and it’s not that much better. My doc said pretty much I can do everything within reason and to progress as tolerated. Is anyone else lifting weights at the 3 month mark? I have been an avid weight lifter for 20+yrs and I am mosly circuit training now although using free weights. I am hoping its just nerve irritation and not a possible reherneation. I am used to being very athletic and I know that I probably overdid it trying to get back too fast.

    1. Nina, I’m at 3 months too (surgery on 9/6/12), and my PT told me I could start working out again at 10.5 weeks. I did, and wow, did the leg pain increase! That was about 2 weeks ago, and I’m still having some leg pain. Did you reherniate or was it just inflammation?

  70. Six months out from L4-L5 No pain, no numbness, no soreness. Just tore out basement walls and carpet. But….still scared to run. (age 52) Ran 5-6 tmes a day prior to surgery (4-5 miles). Anyone tried to run? Mentally it is killing me not to.

  71. 1 week post op L5S1 left herniation. Emergency disectomy as I collapsed and was unable to use bladder, aka cauda equina syndrome. Operation appears to be a success. After chronic pain for 6 months especially month prior to op I am 90% pain free. The first 2 weeks are the most important not to drive, bend, twist, lift or reach. Being a fit 37 yr old mum to 3 young girls this has been a debilitating frustrating set back. The important thing is to stay positive. Walk 40 minutes a day and do core exercises. DO NOT overdo it, you will end up having to relive the whole ordeal again and again and it may never heal properly. Patience and postive attitude. I have numbness & tingling but for the most part I am allowing myself to rest. Its difficult to do so little but allow your body to heal. If like me you were physically active before surgery, change your diet so that you dont get depressed lying around eating & drinking all the wrong foods and putting on the extra weight. Eat well…a healthy body harbours a healthy mind! Good Luck to you all on your recovery journey. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Regards Rene

  72. Hi happy you are doing so well. Hang in there. I rested and am now almost back to my pre set back status of feeling about 90% painfree. I am back in the gym doing cardio and lots of core stengthening and doing well. I had one accupuncture treatment last Saturday to decrease the pain. I have never had it but it seemed to work , or maybe just time (it’s been almost 2 weeks). It finally got better thank God and I am now going to be cautious. I’m about 3 1/2 months post op and about 3 times feared I might have reherniated since surgery. Probably paranoia. But I’m hardly feelingany symptoms s I guess everything is still good. Goo luck to you. I know cauda equina syndrome requires immediate attention!

  73. Thanks to all the posters and moderator of this site. I am 3 weeks post l4/l5 s1 MD after over a year of severe sciatica that prevented me from standing or walking longer than 2-3 minutes. Like all of you, I read tons of negative information. 3 weeks post surgery, ALL of my nerve pain in my buttocks, leg, and foot is completely gone. That being said, I am still experiencing quite a big deal of back muscle pain when I move certain ways which was not there pre-surgery.

    A few questions I have are:

    How do you know if your PT is good at what they do? I’m not sure they are helping me.

    How soon did everyone start working their core?

    What’s the best and safes core workout to not risk overdoing it?

    Thanks again to everyone who has posted and made me feel that there is hope still and the back pain is normal only 3 weeks post op.


    1. Hi Chris. Agree with Nina and add a few points. I’m 9 months post op and feel GREAT! I’m a competitive cyclist and am riding tons but not back racing just yet.

      I started core stablization and light stretching from day one…very gently though. The big issue you get post-pain is back stiffness – partly because you are mentally (and physically) protecting it, which makes you stiff AND because you just had a very traumatic operation. It’s normal.

      A good tip with PT teacher – ask them about what they know about your operation and recovery. Honestly, if they have no direct experience of working with people like you – you should find someone who has.

      At 2 weeks I started seeing a physiotherapist who also is a pilates teacher. It’s been great and is now just part of my regimen for the rest of my life. As Nina said, getting your Transverse Abdominus working is essential to core stabilzation. Trouble is, most of us have no clue how to properly engage it – which might be the underlying cause of your hernation in the first place. Which is why a good pilates teacher is so important. So, I would highly recommend 1 on 1 pilates class (not the group sessions at the Gym – they are dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing). Make slow progress, core work is very subtle but demanding, don’t expect too much and don’t worry!

      All the very best


  74. Hi Chris..
    first off, I am very happy for you that you are feeling so good. I’m surprised you are already in PT since most people including myself were not prescribed that until at least 6 wks post op. Not sure how much a PT can do for you to make a huge difference at 3 wks except to treat you for swelling with modalities, light massage, and teach you gentle stretching. I’m a PT myself and 3 months post op and I just finally went because i had a little set back 2 1/2 wks ago and by the time I got into t see her I was pretty much painfree again. It helped though as she noted some significant mobility issues at my lumbar spine that I don’t even realize I had although I had an idea there was some issue bc I had been protecting myself from moving from my lower back for so long.
    Well to tell if it’s a good PT is kind of tricky. I’m a PT so I would like to think I know, but I would say if the PT is guiding your progress along well with manual treatment, home exercises and modalities and seems to be knowledgeable about your surgery and symptoms then you may just ask about her experience treating post microdiscectomy patients.. All PT’s have a license and degree but some are much more qualified with orthopaedics. I started working my core at 6 wks. I let my back heal for 6 wks and just walked and did very light stretches. You can start earlier but you have to know which exerices to do that early on. The safest exercises are called core stabilization exercises. They involve contracting your transverse abodominus and maintaining a neutral spine and progressing to movements with your extremities in various positions such as your back, all fours, standing etc. No rotation or active flexion of the spine but you want to slowly introduce passive flexion of your spine so you don’t lose mobility. Has your PT shown you any of these yet? What is he/she doing for you so far?

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  76. I am a 49 year old woman who had microdiscotomy 8 weeks ago. Even childbirth was not as painful as the pain from the sciatic nerve. I woke up from surgery pain free, so grateful. Went back to work after one week, 25 hrs a week, I mostly stand and walk, no sitting. Did have the tingling and occasional sharp pain which is scary because you are always thinking reinjury. It has decreased. Started pt at 6 weeks, has helped a lot as a found out my core muscles were basically non exisitant. The stretching is the best, it feels so good. The biggest issue I have is the soreness (for lack of a better word) in my lower back from the exercises. Hopefully this will get better. Not debilitating, just annoying. I definitely agree with everyone about the horrible things you read on some discussions. My husband and I agree this must be because most successes have no reason to be on disscussion forums much after successful outcomes. It is nice to know you can have some small issues and still be on the road to recovery. It is hard to fathom six months to heal, I start bending and my back reminds me. Best to all who read this, and all who have written, God Bless You!

    1. Great to hear Jennifer. I am now 3 months and 2 wks post microdiscectomy and painfree except for the intermittent stiffness in my low back which is improving with PT. It’s good to hear the good outcomes likes yours to help those that are fearful of the surgery.

  77. so its been 8 months of torture and non stop pain, due to l4 and l5 discs bulging on my spinal cord and and causing major left sciatica pain all down the whole leg, i recently had a microdiscectomy 4 days ago and can tell the pain has gone down but not all the way, i am still crooked and wondering if my body will return to the normal straightness it was once before, how long should i walk daily? i walk about a mile in the morn and a mile at night i havent sat down yet only laying and standing which is very annoying. i havent ran or done anything active in 9 months due to the injury from helping some one move a granite counter top,

  78. Hi,
    This is ampn excellent blog and site, thank you. After 5 months of problems, physio and injection, i had an s1 discectomy. I felt instant relief from sciatica. 2 weeks later i felt some of the old pain. I had a major panic and a, posting here to say, really give the whole thing some time. 12 weeks at least. There will be ups and downs but try not to panic if you feel some pain. It is now 4 months on and i have been feeling like a new woman. Unfortunately about two weeks ago i was in very bad posture working at lap top hunched. I now have a horrendous amount of sciatic pain, worse than since surgery. It is extremely depressing as. I am back to not sleeping again and the pain killers and anti inflams do little. My physio has said not to panic or read things on line but that something has agravated it. I have little to complain about really but miserable to be in pain having felt so amazing. I hope it will settle down. Anyone had a similar experience?

    1. I’m about 11 months post op and still get pain now and again. I think what happens is you get pain free for a while, slack off a bit on posture and stretching or just push a bit too far on exercise an then your nerves and muscles remind you again that you had VERY traumatic surgery. It’s normal. Don’t panic (although you probably will every time you do something that reminds you of the old pain) and get back to stretching, pulling your core and keeping good posture. It’ll be ok.

      1. Thanks Andy. It is good to hear from other people who have been through the same experience. Thanks for the words of support. I think I am finding it hard to be positive because the last time I had pain like this the solution was surgery, and the physio and other methods failed. I am scared as it has lasted so long and is making me yelp in pain again. Has anyone had the experience of things returning to similar to pre-surgery pain?

        But, even so, for anyone reading considering surgery I would recommend it. The relief when things were better was soooooooo lovely. You forget how much you are dealing with when you have sciatica. Sorry for the down beat tone. When I see other people and their spinal problems I feel like such a whinger. But the pain and lack of sleep are really dragging me down.

    2. I am almost 13months post op and my pain is gone 98%.. still i have some sometime lingering thing or when i haev hectic situation (this weekend i travelled in public bus for over 12-13 hours and then walked 18-20km ) and i got 5% of pain back… so now i know it will take 2-3 days to settle down depending on how often i rest and otehr things. if i were at 5months post op same thing will take 10 days to settle down may op. incidently, 5months post op i also had horrible pain just because i sat on low chair with improrer back support at my work for 2 days. after that i was so bad that i had t obe on leave for 5 days and it took me 10 days to recover to same. What i can still say is dont leave on your strecthing and do it carefully. DO NOT OVERDO (Something we tend to do thinking it might help more esp.. when we are suffering out of frustration we may do ). Please keep us posted!

      1. Thank you so much for replying. It is so supportive to hear from others who have had the same operation. I really appreciate it. In the nicest way, it has lifted me to hear that you had to have 5 days off work but are now ok. I hope mine will pass- moving around today has been tough. I also think that having had pain at only 5 percent for several months, pain at say eight percent of what it was before is unbearable. I think tolerance goes- cant believe i was putting up with this as normal- dragging the leg etc. i have just been given ten days of dicolfenac so fingers crossed. I wonder if over stretching contributed to this bout of pain- i was excited to be able to touch my toes having previously only got to my knees! Lesson learned. Thanks again for the support. Physio soon. Will keep you posted x

  79. It has been about a month since my post and been doing PT twice a week, stretches every morning and every night, I love the way it makes my back feel. I am a lot better, almost normal again. I can def tell when I overuse my back, or increase exercise. I do not freak out so much now though because I know what it feels like and I don’t automatically think the worst, which I did for awhile. This can really make you paranoid every time something flares up! Dr released me last week, and he said I could live my life pretty much as usual, just warned me about high impact activities like jogging and high impact aerobics- they could be damaging to my back. I wake up everyday log rolling out of bed with a smile. I threw that in because my PT said people with back issues should get in and out of bed that way forever. She said sitting straight up from laying flat and swinging your legs over the side was the equivilant impact on your spine as lifting a 75 lb box. I found that astounding! Anyway, here is to all of living a better life from now on!

  80. So what you’re all saying is, if I had surgery 6 days ago, and I’m starting to feel the old familiar fire down my leg, that it’s OK and normal? I really hope that’s normal, because I am driving myself crazy with worry! I woke up from surgery pain-free, but on Day 2, I felt just a shadow of the sciatic pain, and now on Day 6, I feel a much more significant burning down my leg. 😦 I called the neurosurgeon, they say this is normal, but I am so scared!

    1. Hi Mindy. I know it’s really scary but yes, it’s normal. I’m 11 months post op and still get nerve pain now and again. It takes a long time to heal nerves and there’s a lot of trauma in an operation. As the block from the operation wears off, the pain associated with an irritated nerve will return. Don’t panic. I called the surgeon too after about a week for the same reason.

  81. I had L5 S1 surgery yesterday, Sep 12. No pain in legs, just some stiffness and aching in my back. I am supposed to be “resting” but not really sure what that means. Should I be doing some sitting and walking every hour? I saw that some people were doing stretches but I don’t feel comfortable doing anything like that. Basically trying to figure out how to spend my time over the next few weeks until I see my surgeon again.

    1. I was told by my doctor to walk so I started walking two to three times a day up and down the road in front of my house, with someone with me just to be safe. My doctor told me no stretching until later, then only light stretches. At my six weeks he gave me physical therapy which was great. Until the six weeks I walked only.

      1. I didn’t get any instructions to walk (though I have been, due to what I’ve read all over the internet), but my doctor gave me 8 exercises to do while I’m healing up. Two are calf stretches, one pelvic tilt, etc. None of them are physically taxing and they are mostly done lying on my back, they just loosen up my back a little, which feels nice. I’m a week out today, and no back pain at all. I hope this keeps up! My nerve is still irritated when I do certain movements, but they say that should calm down in 6-8 weeks. *fingers crossed*

      2. I walked until I felt pain or fatigue – the end of the drive at first and then progressed up from there. No more than 10% overall increase per week

      3. Thanks for info. I’ve been walking in the morning and evening, and moving around every 30 minutes. How long did it take for your surgical pain to go away? Right now I am very tense when sitting down and, I think, will be much more at ease once the back pain goes away. On a good note, I have only been taking Tylenol and flexeril the past two days.

      4. Rick, I was very lucky also, only took Advil after my surgury. It’s funny it seems like a long time ago even tho it has only been 3 months. It was hard to sit at first, but got a little better every day. I think it was two or three weeks before I felt semi comfortable sitting for very long. The walking is very important, I think it also helps the way scar tissue forms. I felt my best when walking rather than sitting or laying, so I moved around a lot. For me it was just steady progress, and most of the time now I feel like I did before I fell and hurt my disk. (Thank You God!) I also do physical work, I run a shop waiting on people so I had to move all the time at work too. I hope for the best for all of us here!

    2. Folks – I had been a back patient (bulging l4/5 and l5/s1) since 2006, i am a female 29 years old now.Had been on PT since 2007 recovered (well limited) in 2008 and had a restricted but doable life until march 2012 when I fell on my tail bone. Went to the doc had MRI in April, nothing changed, repeated PT, steroid injection etc and was healing pretty good except had sitting issues all this while. . I did whatever my PT told me but i Took the sitting issue minor and thought that it would go away just like any other back pain if I stick to PT until an excruciating pain in hamstring calves and numbness started in both legs on 9/9. Had another MRI that showed l4/l5 came out and needed micro-d. Got operated on 9/12. Pain went away, walking every 1 hour for 5-10 minutes with a walker. .. Tried on my own and with a cane but gives me sharp pain in my right hip. Taking 3 oxycodones (5mg) and 3 (500mg) tylenols per day, for now
      Read some stories on the Internet, honestly I am very scared and don’t know how much time is a good time… I thought I was doing good but hearing all the herniation reoccurring stories after some months has caused fear and anxiety

      I did too many stretches to build my core and I did …I do not know what to do now, not comfortable with any exercises. I am seeing my doc tomorrow will keep you posted

      1. I may need to have a redo micro disectomy on L4/L5. Was your recovery harder the second time around? How are you doing now? Any more pain?

  82. so its been 4 weeks since i had a microdiscectomy and im still having lots of crazy left leg sciatica pain, i also am still crooked, im very angry about it, yes the pain has subsided but not all way, also my incision on my back is very puffy :(((

  83. Dave, are you walking and doing all of your stretches? Try ice on the incision, it sounds like it’s swollen? If it’s swollen on the outside, you can bet it’s swollen on the inside too, which is normal. My doctor said it can take 6-8 weeks for the nerve irritation to go away, and as long as your pain isn’t greater or the same as it was, that’s a very good sign. As Churchill said, when you’re going through hell, keep going! I feel you, I’m only a week out but had pain so bad last night I couldn’t sleep. I’m trying to be patient though and look forward to the day that I’m pain-free, hopefully just a few more months!

  84. I think its very typical to be afraid when we have the bad days- you feel that familiar twinge, & your heart skips a beat- the monster is back! Thursday i completely freaked out & hurried to schedule an mri so i could see what i did- now its saturday & i feel much better! Its hard understanding if the pain is just from too much physical stress for one day, or if the pain is a warning signal something else is wrong- you cant exactly look in there & know for sure, thats why its so scary. And also, i am not the most patient person, & am paranoid by nature lol! One piece of advice i have learned from personal experience is after letting your body recover from the trauma of surgery , start pt as soon as u can. I went back to work & started horseback riding again without having my core primed and ready to do those things, & my back paid for it! You really need those muscles strong to protect your back. Now i do exercises at home & water therapy twice a week- which is really relaxing (youre moving about in a pool heated to 90 degrees- aaahh) & more challenging than id thought it would be, for being so low impact. Anyone else do the water therapy?

  85. Dave, sounds to me that your swollen incision is causing your pain. I had no problems with my incision site, but from what i hear from others, if the incision area is inflamed, your nerves will be too! Ice the area often (20 minutes every hour) to keep the swelling down & take ibuprophin. I have a feeling that when your incision is no longer puffy, that sciatica should go away. Like my dr told me, its not magic! Your body is just agitated, you just had major surgery! Be patient, things will get better!

    1. Update. It’s been about 8 weeks since my Microdiscectomy. I’m still having major sciatica pain and still crooked with my spinal shift. Which isn’t very pleasant to look at. My incision is still puffy as well. At first the dr said 6-8 weeks ill be good. Now he says 6 months. I do walk a mile in the morning and a mile at night. Just wondering I this pain will go away or will I live with it the Rest of my life. Also if my hips will move back to normal position so I’m no crooked anymore.

      1. Dave- if you can walk, id say youre doing pretty good. Ill just speak for myself here, but before the surgery i couldnt even straighten up to walk without unbearable pain. My hips are still a bit crooked so it affects my gait, but i ride horses & work 40 hrs a week so it really affects my life less than i thought it would. Yes, the pain will go away, but there will be hard days. One day ill think, oh my god i must have reherniated and then the next day be perfectly fine. Sitting and laying for a long time will affect your back for about a year after surgery. So its been what 11 weeks now after surgery? Thats still super early, and its normal to be worried. You just have to be patient & keep busy because a lot of this is mental ive learned! Good luck!

  86. Had microdiscectomy L4/L5 3 days ago and am having a bit of incision pain which I know is normal and some leg pain and toe numbness but no where near the level it was pre-op. I am hoping from reading all the posts that this to shall pass as the days go on. I am walking as much as I can tolerate and do get up and walk after sitting for 15-20 minutes. Find that I still need Tramadol every 4 hours for pain and am weaning off Gabapentin slowly and should be done with those by post-op visit. Will try next week to cut back on the Tramadol but am not going to tough it out when the meds are there to keep me pain free. Glad to have found this forum as others had said most other sites are so negative and filled with worst case sceniarios. Hope everyone continues to progress to “normal” again.

  87. Was not given any stretches or excercises of any kind to do. Just told to walk and “listen to yur body” “If it hurts don’t do it” that is a little vague for me. Would love to be doing some gentle stretches but just walking right now. Don’t see Neuro until 10/4/12. I guess I will just have to wait and see what he suggests for the next step.

  88. Michele – I had my procedure on 9/13. My doctor didn’t give me any stretches to do either, just wanted me to not bend,lift or twist and move around every 30 minutes. I spoke with the lead nurse today and she reinforced that message. They want me to concentrate on protecting my back and all the other things like stretching and PT will come in good time.

  89. Thanks Rick UMD – I am trying to do the same but having such a hard time sleeping(Not a back sleeper) so I thrash around quite a bit and I am worrying that I am causing more harm than good to my back. Pain today and leg soreness are enough to discourage anyone but i am trying to remember that I am only 6 days out and still need a lot of healing. Will really try and lay on my back tonight and see if i can just get to sleep that way……just a nervous wreck. Also went off tramadol yesterday and the withdrawal is horrible but gonna stick it out and get it done with!

    1. Hi Michel: I’m not a back sleeper either. I had my L5S1 microdiscectomy on Sept 4th. The physical therapist at the hospital said it’s OK for me to sleep on my side with a pillow between my legs. I’ve done that and it seems to work. I also came off tramadol last weekend. My wonderful wife has forgiven me for my foul mood during the withdrawal, which lasted the weekend for me. I think I’m fine now, mood wise. I’m really glad I had the tramadol though. It sure worked and I didn’t need any other pain meds after surgery.

      1. I had my L5/S1 microdiscectomy back in May. Not a back sleeper either. I have slept comfortably with a pillow in between my knees, and an extra one propped up by my upper body to hold onto. I still take Neurontin at night as needed and it helps me to sleep since I still have occasional burning in my left leg. I have not been on pain meds since a month after surgery. Find what is comfortable for you! Good luck and a speedy recovery.

      2. Thanks Chuck, glad to hear your wife was understanding as my family is as well. Day 4 of withdrawal and feeling much better – still not sleeping well but hoping that will improve in the next few days. I am trying the side sleep thing with the pillow between the legs and still may look into the body pillows, too. Walked about a mile today (Not all at once, LOL) but a mile nonetheless! I am trying to take this one day at a time but patience is not my strong suit!

  90. It seems like most people here are young and fit. Maybe that is why I fell so shitty right now. I am 55 and active but not fit and am a smoker. I am assuming that it will take me a lot longer than a fit 25 year old to heal from this. I am trying to walk as much as possible but can only do a little at this point. Only inside the house today as it is raining outside! I can’t wait to be 6 or 7 months post-op and have all of this behind me. Just want to be sure that I haven’t re-herniated. guess if I am not feeling worlds better by post-op visit then I will ask for a new MRI to be sure.

    1. Michele, don’t be discouraged. Just do what you can, when you can. This is a big deal! You have to take your time and take care of yourself so you heal properly. But don’t stop moving. Even if it is just around the house and for a few minutes every hour. I had and MRI right after surgery, I still had pain and they thought I reherniated. I didn’t go in for another surgery. It’s been a slow recovery, but now, at 4 months post op, I am finally starting to feel better. Walking is good for you. Keep it up – whatever little bit you can. Hope you feel better soon.

  91. I suffered from sciatica for about 6 months. I tried chiropractic care, physical therapy and epidural injections and none ever worked well. Being 29 and active prior to the onset of sciatic pain, I feared I’d never be active again. After much debate I elected to have a microdisectimy on my L5/S1 disc and had the procedure done last week. It’s been 6 days since the surgery and I am very happy to report my sciatic pain in my left leg is gone, I am only experiencing pain at the incision site. I am frightened of having a recurrent herniation but I have been following the doctors orders strictly. I know I’ve got quite the road ahead of me before becoming active like I was prior to sciatica but Ricky’s post as well as all of the other post I read are very positive

  92. Michele, im not a back sleeper as well but body pillows have helped me- i lay on my side, and throw my leg & arm around it in front of me, & i also use another one pushed up against my back. My “nest” has kept me relatively still at night & i sleep better

    1. I also sleep on my side with pillow in between… I am Actually a tummy sleeper so I also try to get an hour on tummy with pillow underneath…. Asked my nurse, she said its okay… I am 16 days post op…wish it was 16 months 😉 I am walking every hour with and without walker and it gives me localized muscular pain… Is this normal??? Or am I overdoing?

  93. 17 days post-op and on my 2 mile walk 3/4 way back and fall on sidewalk – besides hurting my pride and my knee, hoping that I have not re-injured my back as well. Did not twist during fall and just stayed there a few seconds and got up as carefully as I could. Iced as soon as got back home and am feeling a few twinges but no real pain in back area – so maybe dodged the bullet. Of course, I will worry about it for days now but that is normal for me. LOL Hopefully everyone else is doing well in their recovery!

  94. Thanks to Rick for this brilliant site. More positive than many i have read.

    My op was very successful but unfort i am back to the consultant as 4 months post op have bad sciatica again. I am due an. Mri to see whats going on.

    Does anyone have views on whether weight plys a majoy part? After the op i lost around 14 pounds. I felt great on all levels. Ten pounds have crept back on and i wonder if that may be causing the sciatica?

    I am not overweight but could afford to be twenty pounds lighter and still have a healthy bmi. Thanks in advance for your experiences.

    1. I have always been told to loose weight… I have a healthy BMI but they say loosing weight is only going to help and I did loose 20 pounds prior to the reinjury but it all came back after I have been on bed. I feel the
      Lighter you’re the lesser weight your back has to manage.
      I have another question for the folks … I had been on the walker post op… Now that I have started walking without it, i started feeling a sharp pain but limited to a cebtral area in my hip/ buttock like a dot. This morning I woke up with a sciatica …. It’s going from my outer thigh to leg to foot… Is this normal? Because I am waking a lot and without support. I also did some 30 stairs comple days ago with a cane? Sorry I am
      Paranoid,it’s a Sunday and I don’t want to call my doctor… Any experience with that???

      1. Its totally normal, rashiers. The pain will come and go, and muscular twinges are normal. You probably woke up with sciatic pain because you had been laying down all night. Keep moving around as much as is comfortable, and use ice or heat on your lower back when youre lying for a while ( 20 minutes at a time) to keep it from being so stiff & irritating the nerves that cause sciatic pain.

    2. I have read on many back and spine sites that weight does indeed play a role – but core strength is what will help. I am only 5′ tall so weight is always an issue for me and stomach area is where short people carry their weight so double whammy for me! Hoping at 6 week mark to start some PT for back and core strengthening – that is really all we can do is try the exercises and watch what we eat. I am 55 so running marathons was never part of my life and am not going to start now! LOL Just am going to try and keep up my walking and watch the calories! Hang in there, Jane.

      1. Thanks for the replies. I am in a lot of pain this evening and very worried how i will cope with the mri tomorrow as i cant lie on my back with legs straight out or knees supported without extreme pain. They have advised me to bring pain relief but i think i need morphine. Anyone ad that experience? I have not been able to lie on my back now for over 4 weeks even with tramadol and diclofenac.

        Re the other posts i just want to say that inspite of my current horror story, don’t panic if you get a little pain return, or a lot for a few days. I learnt that as the operation pain killers wear off, you may begin to feel some of the old pain. In my case this pain stayed but was limited to my thigh only, was only a 2/10 and it did nit stop me from undertaking any activities. It seems from this site that some pain post op is normal, and we all fear the worst. Wishing you all well in your recoveries. I am off to not eat so much andhunt out pain relief to allow the mri to happen.

  95. Hi all!
    Haven’t posted recently but have enjoyed reading the recent (increased!) communications. In February this year I had a microdiscectomy on L5/S1. Have completely modified my workouts and eliminating running because it just “doesn’t feel good.” Have occasional flare ups and, due to so much conflicting info, am wondering if it’s best to treat with ice or heat?? I’d been icing it after a workout and someone said I should be using heat!? Also, I know foam rolling and massage would probably help, but I’ve noticed soreness in my tensor fascae latae on my weakened side…also that leg is shorter–not sure if that was a cause or effect of my problems but wondering what others experiences with that is? Lastly, my calf had severe atrophy and is still a LOT weaker than the undamaged side. Will it ever be normal again? Glad everyone on here is so helpful. I definitely would take my current state over pre-surgery…however I feel like it will always be something that I need to handle with care and stay patient with. Eight months later, I’m better…but still not where I was/would like to be!

    1. Its been 1.5 years since my surgery. Couple of things for all you going through it.
      1. It’s much better getting the operation than the alternative. I recall bouts of pain I didnt think I would survive.
      2. The nerve takes a lot of time to heal. Mine was severely crushed and it heals at a rate of 1 inch per week.
      3. I miss many activities and you need to find things that will strengthen you core. I recommend versaclimber,yoga,walking.
      4. My surgery has for sure helped me keep the weight off……any time there’s an extra 10 lbs added my back/sciatic nerve let me know things are not ok.

    2. Jane, I am so sorry to hear all this. I had a very similar situation… Pain in both legs, hips hamstrings, calves. No position; sitting, standing walking lying down was helping and I was worried how will I sit through MRI… It gives me shivers when I go think through those days. But, somehow I had a thought in mind that these 25 minutes of MRI and I will be on my way to recovery. Take as many pain meds as you can….as your doc if Valium is something you could take just to make you go thru MRI… I dont’ think that it may make sense but if you could at least you can get through MRI. Above all call your doctor and tell him the situation and ask for a recommendation.
      Gather all your strength, just get through the MRI phase so the docs know what to do next. My thoughts are with you…..good luck!

      1. Thank you Rashi for your really supportive and thoughtful post. I got it just before the mri and it helped me get through it. And to everyone else for your kind replies. I had my results and unfortunately I have reherniated. I feel so, so dissapointed. Was told it is just one of those things that can happen. I work for myself so the thought of more time off not earning is difficult. The surgery was so excellent. I have enjoyed a brilliant quality of life all Summer and now back to square one. I would still recommend the op- it felt truly life changing. Meanwhile please all keep your fingers crossed that an injection will work for me this time. I just want to get back to health and mobility again.

  96. Jane, I am so sorry to hear about the re herniation. Stay strong! My neurosurgeon told me that there is a 20 percent chance of a re herniation, but if the surgery relieved pain then a second one would be just as successful. I am now about 3 weeks post surgery, I still am extra cautious and really on do my mile walk as far as exercise daily. I am curious if you think a particular activity contributed or caused the re herniation or if you believe it was solely the 10 pound wieght gain? I wish you all the best!

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your kind reply. And positive thoughts. You are right, I need to focus on my past good recovery. I have wracked my brains as to what may have caused it in terms of activity. I have been very careful. I have danced once but not effects felt. I have worn high heels a few times but no effects felt other than an achey back. No sports at all but lots of walking and stair climbing. I was pleased as could touch my toes again and have done this just a few times post op. I think the trigger was either lifting luggage which did not feel heavy even for a weaklin like me, but was too much? But this was almost 5 months post op and just the weight of lots of shopping bags. Or the trigger which may have made me feel most uncomfortable was uncomfortable sofa which was too low whilst staying at a friend. There was no lumber support. Surgeon told me sports people get the op and are back playing 3 months later and my situation is not related to behaviour, just one of those things. The other things on my mind are that pre op I was around 12st 7lb, after the op went down to about 11st 4lb and then gradually back up to 12st ish. Not sure if that played a part. Plus I am person who kept going, carefully, with sciatica pre op. I never rested for a whole day even whilst post op I had a good 4-6 weeks bed rest with exercise and walking and sitting breaks. It sounds ridiculous but hard to say how much that helped the pain along with the op? It does worry me as I am not sure what to do differently this time asides from lose weight. I am a tall woman so look very similar with a stone more or less on me.

      It sounds as if you are doing great. If u get pain for a short duration I would cut back on sitting and loading the spine or whatever the trigger is. Keep us posted and continue to be positive x

      1. Jane – are they only recommending an epidural and not another surgery? If that can get you back on the road., that would be great – was the reherniation small enough for reabsorption? Hopefully the steroid injection will work for you with lots of patience and less strain – no luggage lifting! LOL And no couch sleeping! LOL We will all hold a good thought as we all know what you are going through.

      2. Hi Michelle, thanks so much for your kind reply- it made me smile! Everyone is so nice and positive on here- it is great as lots of spinal chat rooms seem to be full of doom and gloom.

        I am not sure what reabsorption is? Herniation is same disc as last time and slightly bigger, although thankfully no pins and needles (just good old dull ache and sharp pains lol)!

        I had the injection first time around but it did not make a difference so I had the op. I am however visualing the injection working brilliantly this time! I also remembered that for a few days pre this problem with disc I had eased off on my core exercises as felt it was working well and I didn’t need to be as vigilant. Lesson learned! A ten pound lighter, core stability crazy woman coming up! Hopefully pain free x

    2. Jane- good to hear that you’re smiling today! I hope and pray that the injection works for you and you have a shorter route to recovery this time.
      I have a question for all who are week 3-4 like me… What do you guys do on a daily basis when you’re week 2,3,4,,5???….I mean are you just resting and walking or are you back to your routine because all I am doing is resting (reading) sitting like 20 minutes and walking every hour for 5-10
      Minutes ( my legs get tired and back is stiff all the time, may be because I still have swelling) and shifting my focus on cutting down the narcotics…obviously I am not working . My doctor says PT should be after week 5 or 6. so I was wondering if I am the only one being so extra careful and under the limit or should I try to go beyond this?? I know it’s person to person but still… Would love your thoughts!

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for your post. Re your back I think you are doing all the right things. Don’t be tempted to rush this point- you only get one shot at it. I was quite twingy the first few weeks and sitting for too long (only up to 30 mins at a time) brought on pain. I think the walking and regular moving (safely and slowly out of bed- boring I know but important) is all you need to do. I think it is good to keep a diary of it. All of a sudden- about 10 weeks in my case- you will start to feel so great and an top of it that the gradual period of recovery is a distant memory. I started pt after a few weeks but it was really slow stuff. Lie in bed and flex the feet, core stability lower tummy pull in, before eventually moving to going up and down a step 15 times. Don’t rush this time- gradually in the right direction and all of a sudden you will feel great again. I spoke to someone who had the op after not being able to sit down at all, then returned to work 2 weeks later and ran a marathon 6 months later. Whilst impressive, he is definitely a rare exception! I did not work for 8-9 weeks and then gradual return even though I felt brilliant in myself, I was too afraid. Your body has been through a lot- find some gripping books is my tip and enjoy the time to daydream! Good luck! It will come and before you know it you won’t need the drugs- time flies.

      2. I am at week 3 post-op yesterday. I have been trying to walk at least 2-3 miles a day (in segments, not all at once) and sit for periods of up to 30-45 minutes and then get up and walk around for a few minutes before sitting again. I am hoping to start PT at the 6 week mark, so I have only been doing the walking for now. By evening I am achy all over and need a couple of Advil to take the edge off. Still having some sleep issues ( on the computer right now at 1:47 AM EST) but trying to work through them slowly. Take a 0.5 Xanax a night for sleep and sometimes it works and sometimes (like tonight) it doesn’t. I really don’t rest much during the daytime and I will not nap because of the sleep issues. I am also not back to work yet. I am seeing neurosurgeon tomorrow and am going to ask for the full 10 weeks off as I DO NOT feel strong enough to return to work yet – hope he agrees. I feel everyone must go at their own pace and only do what you can. I walk very slowly and feel foolish sometimes as I walk outside but – who cares what other people think as they see me strolling along….LOL Just try adding a few more minutes of walking a day. You mention swelling – where is the swelling?

  97. Thanks Jane and Michele – I I just don’t want to try the limits. I just too scared to do that and paranoid.

    I was off work for 3 weeks but felt real upset so, I am trying to work couple of hours in a day, started since yesterday. Mine is a sitting job but I don’t sit all at once. I hope I am not making a mistake. I;d really request the experienced folks if they see this as a mistake and if I should just be resting and walking, I’d rather do that. As Jane said, you get only one shot at it.
    I asked my doc, he said it’s okay
    As per the meds, I am taking 2 – 500 mg Tylenols in the morning, 1 Oxycodone at night with 1 tylenol. I really wanted to cut out the oxys. I was taking about 12 right after the operation. I am having withdrawl symptoms, honestly I don;t know…I woke up like at 3:00 AM and could not sleep until 7:00 AM. I was just scared if my sleeping posture was okay or not..
    I have swelling around my incision site but it’s not as bad as it was after operation. I started with week 4 just today. I get very sore in the evening, sitting doesn’t feel good at the end of the day….I plan to increase my walking. I live in an apartment with one flight of about 15 stairs. IHopefully, by the end of the week, I am able to get down those stairs and walk outside.

  98. Folks – I have been experiencing pain in both legs (thighs and calves) when I am walking .. I had it couple if days ago then it went away and came back today…I am barely able to walk for 3 minutes it gets achy and I feel tired. It doesnt feel like sciatica (crossing my fingers) and i am not sure if its muscular pain. If I stop walking the pain goes away comes right back with walking. i am fine sitting standing, sitting or laying down ….I have recently been cutting down meds and increased walking. I hope I have not done anything wrong….any experience with this type of pain?? Is this normal? I

    1. Rashi – haven’t heard from you in a bit. How is the pain while walking? Any better? Have you spoken with MD? Keep us posted.

      1. Hi Michele – the pain is just a littlebetter but not gone. My quads still hurt real bad when i walk. I called the doctor and he said this is normal but a keep a watch. Key is that This should eventually better and not worse. Said, it may be bcause I am reducing pain meds (Oxycodone)
        I am very stiff almost throughout the day even with meds. I am
        Now taking tylenol and advil. I am meeting my surgeon on 10/12. Will keep ya posted… How have you been?

      2. Ask your doctor about Arthrotec. I was having alot of residual nerve pain, but Arthrotec does the trick for me. I’m not taking any narcotics anymore because I just don’t need them.

      3. Hi Mindy – thanks for the recommendation. I surely will. I saw the content of the tab you mentioned. Prior to the surgery Diclofenac is what I used to take for stiffness and it had always worked well. I did not take it after surgery because I wanted to go with the doctor but I will propose this. What also worked for me in the past was bengay (Cvs Verison green color) but I am allowed to use it now…
        Thanks again!

  99. I am exactly 48 hours post op for an L4/L5 microdiscectomy. It has been very helpful reading about the experience of others, although I am truly sorry to hear about Jane’s re herniation. I really hope that Jane can recover without so much pain and trauma and I wish her strength to keep her spirits strong. Yesterday I was able to walk for about 1/2 mile slowly, but then became a bit worried about some left sided lower back spasms that I have had since yesterday afternoon. So it seems from all the posts that this is not unexpected and that there will be ups and downs for weeks and months ahead. I have to resist my urge to over function and have avoided pain meds (except to sleep) so as to remind myself not to try to do too much. I wish you all a full recovery, and patience to get there.

    1. I truly found reading all the posts so helpful in knowing what to expect at what point in recovery – reread them every once in a while just to check my own progress against others. What was your MD’s advice on the walking and activity level? Walking is great but don’t overdo so soon – kind of a “slow and steady wins the race kind of thing”. I am at 4 weeks post-op today and still ache in the evening from the days activities – not sure how long that is going to last but a couple of Advil usually do the trick. I think patience and following your doctor’s orders are key to success. Keep us all posted.

    2. Thanks for your words of support. I really appreciate the feeling of positivity here. For all those post op, especially early days – take it easy, keep active in a very gentle way, and take care with how you sit and how long for. There are definitely ups and downs but hopefully you will move in the right direction, Wishing you all a great recovery,

  100. Today marks my one year anniversary since my microdiscectomy. It’s been a long hard year of work. Daily exercise, Pilates for my core every week, physio every week, massage, daily stretches on top of gym and my cycling training. I still have a few nerve niggles but it’s virtually gone and I can do anything I want my body to do. I’m told my nerves will still be in recovery for another year so I’ll continue to be patient and in any case; taking care of my back is a way of life.

    I wish all of you all the very best with your recovery and I’ll happily answer any questions if I can. Rick, you possibly had no idea what you’d started here but thank you for doing it anyway – it’s been a great source of support.

    Stay positive – it’s the only way!

    1. Congratulations, Andy!!! It’s a mark everyone want to reach at! So bravo!
      Your posts were just like Rick’s very positive.
      Did you fly/ travel with in this year? I’d like to know what is it that you stayed away this entrie year as a precaution?
      I see your dos but not the donts… I’d appreciate if you can share some. Thanks!

      1. Hi Rashi

        Hmm that’s a tough one because I don’t think much about what I can’t do. But I suppose 2 things spring to mind… I don’t really lift anything heavy and I don’t sit for too long. If I do sit there are two rules: sit up really straight and don’t use the back of the seat and knees below hips. I try not to sit for longer than 30 minutes. Oh, and don’t sit on sofas – they are evil!!!

        As for travel, yes I have. I have done 2 round the world trips since the op and they’ve been fine. I guess I’m lucky enough to mostly be on long haul flights with business class flat bed seats but even so, I get up a lot and stretch. And that’s been fine.

        Lastly, I have not been running. I was never much of a runner anyway. If god would have wanted us to run he would never have given us bikes!

        One last bit of advice – always think about engaging your core and pelvic floor. For guys that means “nuts to guts” or the sensation of pulling your belly in away from your belt. It takes the pressure off your spine and corrects your posture.

        All the best and hope this was of some use


      2. I know i am too late to reply but just thought will share my experience too.
        I had L4/5 and L5/S1 microdisc in aug 2011, it has been up and down and up and down since then. about flights i had first flight one month post op and till date i have had 13flights post op (all in economy class ). i have stayed away from sitting on soft seats (sofa/cinema).. about the donts i am still very particular about weight ill lift, time ill sit at strecth (max half hour) if it goes above 1 sometimes due to work i feel twinge i know i should rest. also, very close to daily exercise (45 min stretch morning/evening) if you have other question please let me know…

  101. Hi All,

    I hope you are doing well. I have been thinking about my situation and trigger points and sitting with my hips below my knees is definitely one of them. On low sofas for example. So, in the event that it is the same for you, take care, especially post-op to be careful with furniture. This is sooooooo boring I know, but better safe than sorry after having been through an op. Hope this insight helps someone.

    1. Hi Jane – Good to hear from you. I always noticed that your recommendations has been with the way one sits and I always keep that in mind. Thank you for that!
      My job requires me to sit a lot and I have been preparing myself to get there. When you say do not sit for long… What do you recommend? I try sitting 20 minutes move around for like 2-3 minutes and get back to sitting…. Overall I think in a 12 hour day I am sitting for 3-4 hours in bits and pieces. I am 32 days post op. Please let me
      know what do you think because it’s killing me with worry that i may be over sitting.
      I sit on good chair with arms and try ro use lumbar support. I understand no sitting on low piece of furniture or exra soft surface

  102. Hi Rashi

    You are definitely sitting for too long! Stand up whenever you can or lie down. I did that in meetings for months and I know many who have too. Other people find it funny but whatever, it’s your back!


    1. Hi Andy – Thank you so much for your replies. Greatly appreciate it!
      You shared a lot of valuable information and I will keep the suggestions in mind.

      Regarding sitting; I repeadly asked my doctor if I am okay to sit for a 20-30 minute stretch then move around and sit back. He was okay with this approach.
      But, I will take your suggestion into account and it easy may be do 15 minutes sitting stretch and eventually increase it….
      Thanks again!
      Best of Luck for everything!

  103. Just a quick update, I had my surgery end of June, most days I forget I ever had anything wrong with me! I have changed some things- I stretch still every morning and every night, (and plan to continue this forever) I exercise an hour three days a week (core), I bought a riding mower and a 2 lb electric edger so I can do yard work again, I do not lift anything over about 15 pounds, and I walk as much as possible. I am always on my feet at work and moving around, so that helps. So there can be a normal life again, but I am thankful everyday and don’t take it granted! Just wanted anyone reading to know there is hope for return to your pre injury life, with a few adjustments!

    1. Thanks, Steve and Jennifer for sharing your progress and the “tips”.
      I am into week 8 post op. Started my PT (gentle stretches and massages) and going through the ups and downs just like many people have indicated here. So, patience is the virtue ….
      However, I have one major area of concern – persistent issues while sitting. Pain in my glutes is killing me. It had been bothering me prior to the surgery and it’s very much there now . I am not comfortable sitting for more than 5 -8 minutes…. Is this the part of the process or am I missing something?? Called my doctor, asked me to wait and watch. My PT tells me it takes 3-4 months to get comfortable with sitting…..I hope they are right!

      Any experiences are more than welcome..

      1. For me I joined full time office after 5 weeks so I sat more than that. I will sit around 30mins and walk for 5mins then, But Yup sitting more than 15mins used to cause me some issues in my thighs. However, I kept the same rule my doc told me 30Min seat 5Min walk for long enough time.Still trying to stick but being careless. Is pain too much? because my thighs will pain but not very much and instead of pain it will be some tingling and other sensations which will be more than pain.. Also, Are you sitting on right chair? Because if i sit on sofa now also after 20-25mins ill feel strange.. so just make sure your posture is correct, seat is correct and don’t worry 🙂

      2. Hi Steve – Thanks for your reply…I wanted to watch for a few days and then write back. I have observed that sitting is not painful but there is a huge amount of discomfort. (as if you’re sitting on a wooden bench for a long time and it starts to get uncomfortable). I am using a good chair, foot rest, taking breaks etc… At times, I do feel okay but it’s rare…guess as long as it’s not worsening…I had Micro D at L4/L5 and my PT says that my sitting issues are due to L5/S1 ( I do have a mild herniation at this location). She has been telling me that it will get better but will be one of the last things to worry about at this time. I think I just have to wait and be positive that it will go away, eventually!

  104. When you sit you really have to keep your core strong & not slouch or arch your back either! I refer to it as “sucking my guts in”! It feels weird to be so aware of how to sit, but yeah, its normal to feel sharp pain if you sit too long, and try to sit on a soft cushion and use your core to hold yourself up. I find it hard when i am sitting in my car driving, and i am 6 months post-op.

  105. Hi Everybody,

    I had a decompression/discectomy (L5, S1) on 13th July this year and have slowly been building up a fitness routine which consists of lots of stretching, about 20-30 minutes of cardio around 4 times a week. I put on quite a lot of weight over the immediate pre and post op months which is frustrating but that should slowly take care of itself as I move forward. I have the usual feelings of “doing much better” followed by “damn I just pushed it a little too far” and it seems that this sawtooth-type recovery of 2 steps forward, one step back is quite typical.

    My main passions are racquet sports though and I am really hoping that somebody can give me some feedback on how long it has taken to recover enough to play a game of tennis or squash. Although I am feeling a lot looser, stronger and generally better all round, I am terrified of picking up a racquet and going back to square one.

    Does anybody have any experience of this in relation to racquet sports and when sort of time they felt able to return to doing this type of activity. I really would appreciate some feedback as it is really hard to find good online sources of information and this blog is by far the best/most reassuring that I have found.

    Thanks so much and good luck to everybody who’s going through the same thing on here.

  106. Hello everyone! As the weather is changing, i notice i am experiencing more pain than usual. How much does the weather impact your pain im wondering?

    1. Hi Mel – I am finding it hard to keep up with winter time…I have noticed that I get stiffer the next day causing discomfort. I take couple of advils to keep up but I doubt if that’s helping. I am not at all comfortable walking on a tread…so, I am using the malls or wear extra layers

  107. I have found that the colder weather makes everything hurt more. As soon as I walk outside and it is cold – my back starts hurting – I am just trying to dress accordingly and keep up the stretching and walking – doing a lot more on the treadmill than outside – or walking the shopping mall.

  108. I have been having sitting issues for a while (pain with sitting; unable to sit for more than 15 minutes) and my doctor advised PT. Overall it’s okay but I doubt I am getting any help with my sitting issue. I have been bothered to an extent that I am not able to sleep on my back or hip anymore. It’s a local pain right below back and above hips…Lately, I have been noticing pain in my heels as well. So, my doctor has advised to go for a 5 day medrol dosepak course (steroid) wondering if anyone has tried it before???? Please let me know

  109. Hi All,

    I haven’t posted for a while. I had a discectomy in April on S1 which was v successful but unfortunately reherniated. The good news is that I had a nerve root block injection and hallelujah it has worked! No more pain in my leg. I am posting this as the first injection I had (prior to surgery) did not make much difference so, it goes to show, you never know!

    I have also modified my behaviour. I purchased a ‘back friend’ for support while relaxing and sitting. I also purchase something which is like a bike seat on a ball for engaging core muscles whilst at a desk. Marvellous. Definitely worth trying. When you have had surgery you tend to think that is the end of the road but it is not true- many other things can play a big part in being pain free. I also avoid sofas altogether. This is a shame but small price to pay. I recommend The Back Shop in Marylebone London. They also have a massager called The Mobiliser. Before my injection I was there daily having a 20 min deep massage and it made a big difference but was not that practical. Again, something I thought that couldn’t possibly help me did.

    My next goal is (yet more) physio and to start graudually doing regular exercise. I have been a year without exercise and feel like a slob!

    I hope you are all recovering well. Rashi how are you doing?
    I know well the panic when pain comes on board post-op but hang on in there and hope it goes in the right direction. X

    1. I enjoy reading everyone’s progress…and although we each have setbacks it gives peace of mind knowing those circumstances are “normal.” For example I did a circuit workout yesterday and while unusually do it on a shock absorbing surface, I jumped rope and did jumping jacks etc on a wood floor. Badddd idea! Paying for it now. This happened about 8 wks post op too when I tried running outside. It’s not a nerve pain, but spine “shock” it feels like. Frustrating this still happens after about 10 months (feb surgery, L5/S1). Seems like I don’t do well with impact. I miss those kinds of workouts but have taken up barre classes and body weight exercises (planks and push-ups anyone!?). A good diet is key as well. Happy holidays everyone!! Can anyone else relate to this post?

      1. Tried the backjoy – did not like it – hurt to sit on it – possibly because i am only 5′ tall – maybe would work better on a taller person.

  110. Hi all,
    I’ve enjoyed reading all these posts. They’ve been a breath of fresh air for me. I’m 27 and just had discectomy surgery this past Monday. The surgery went really well and I was up and walking a little that night. I had basically no leg pain. Went home from the hospital the day after and took it really easy all day. Mainly stayed in bed or just walked around the house. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I walked around my block, which was very easy and the only pain I had was at the incision. Friday night, Saturday and today, I have had a lot of leg pain. Zapping that goes down my leg when sleeping or just lying down and pain when I try and go up stairs. I’m worried that I may have re injured when rolling over in bed or trying to get off the couch as they say you’re not supposed to twist or anything for two weeks. I’m not sure how easy it is for the disc to pop back out right after surgery but i’m pretty scared because i’m having some bad pain in my leg that was not experienced the first two days after surgery. Can anyone provide any insight or feedback for me? Thanks so much,


    1. Hi Jason,
      Hope you are feeling better. I would say that it is completely normal to a) get some pain back and b) worry about it and have a sense of foreboding. I think we feel so euphoric that the dragging constant pain has gone we are very upset when any trace of it returns. I had mild symptoms return after 2 weeks, noticed after I sat for a little too long. But I was advised that due to the amount of ddrugs in the body the pain was there after the op but masked. And as for doing too much, you do need to be very careful and deliberate but equally you can’t wrap yourself in cottonwool forever. Be sensible, take care of your back and work to engage the right muscles when moving, extra time getting up etc. Yes, it is tedious but not as tedious as sciatica 🙂

      I would see how it goes and keep your mind busy with positive things. I went on a really downer when pain (light pain) returned even though it was a 1 out of ten and had been ten before the op, so don’t panic and speak to your doctor or pt if worried.

      On a different note, I rehernniated properly after 5 months, and was told by surgeon it was just ‘one of those things’. So be careful post-op and accept that things may need to be done differently for a long time after but don’t let the worry get to you. Good luck!

      1. HI Jane,

        Thanks for the reply and advice. It’s good to hear that i’m not that only one that can feel down post surgery and am trying to stay positive. I’ve been in a funk since the pain returned. The first 3 days were great and I had no pain or tingling whatsoever. I knew to expect random zaps down the leg because the nerve is healing but I find it strange that rolling over in bed or walking up and down stairs causes sciatic pain. Not terrible but enough to get me worried. It is similar to the pain that I had pre-op and that’s what makes me concerned. They don’t really tell you how easy it is for the disc to re-herniate after surgery and what the symptoms would be if it happened. How did you knew you reherniated after the 5 month mark?

        Hopefully it will get better and I didn’t re-injure when rolling over in bed or getting up off the couch.

      2. Hi Jason,

        I knew I had reherniated 5 months as I had a feeling as if I had been kicked in the back and the pain went right down my leg to the ankle and was very strong again. It had been such a long time since I felt it (pre-op), I realised just how worthwhile the op was!

        Re my worry about whether I had reherniated just post-op (which I hadn’t) I can’t remember how long the pain lasted but it was a good while. In fact, I am not sure if it ever went. But it was mild and a lot better than pre-op. I actually cried though as I was so gutted at the thought I had messed something up and it made me realise how much I didn’t want the old pain to return. If you are worried see the doctor. I very much think they will tell you to wait. Ultimately, If you had reherniated, they would still want to wait before they could do treatment so do what you can to think positive. In my experience there was pre-op pain which was constant (9/10), then a period of no pain whatsoever, then ten days after op, a light sciatic pain of 1-2/10 like a ghost of the original pain and much, much milder. That stayed with me until I reherniated – then it was back with a vengence and now, fingers crossed, the pain has reduced dramatically. It may be that you always have some pain but if you are worried check it out with the doctor. Good luck!

  111. 3 months post op, and was feeling really good at 10.5 weeks. So my PT suggested I try some workouts, first few workouts went great. Then had PT 2 weeks ago, and that night my ankle started tingling. Ever since then, I’ve had some pain in my leg. It’s been 2 weeks, so I’m starting to get really worried! I had hoped I had just overdone it, but I would think that by 2 weeks time, it would be better. So, I think I’ve reherniated it. If I did, I’m guessing it’s a small one since it’s not as painful as it was before surgery. Has it taken anyone else 2 weeks to get over an “overdoing it” episode? I do have times when I’m pain-free, and I can do a straight-leg lift at physical therapy, so my therapist doesn’t think it’s a reherniation, he thinks it’s a stability issue in my back, but I am SO scared!

  112. Hi Mindy,

    Sorry to hear of the pain. It is a tricky balance to get isn’t it – doing stuff again but not too much. I found that very challenging emotionally!

    I hope it is a temporary thing. I do think that the op lulls us into a false sense of security that it will be fine for good and there are still ups and downs which can last a good period. Hopefully this will pass. It is like a nagging worry I know but keep going very gently on the exercises and stop if you need to. I have just returned to physio and afterwards had a bit of a panic as there was some pain. It has now passed. I think this is a sign of how low my fitness and strength are and I have been avoiding doing things – the physio forces you to confront them if you see what I mean.

    Maybe see your surgeon for a check up? I lifted a heavy weight by accident just post op and had major panic but seemed to be ok. Good luck!

    1. Hi Jason – being worried, paranoid and constantly thinking “oh I did it again” is natural and justified, I guess. So, you’re totally

      normal with that thought. My doctor keeps telling me “if it has to happen, it will”. I don’t like his response but I don’t have a

      choice. Other things I can do at your stage are – taking it easy and walking even if its for few minutes…there are several types of

      things that happen and will happen post surgery…some may be really strange (like I have developed big lumps in my feet. Got an

      X-ray, shows inflammation due to activity after a month or two of inactivity but it was hard to understand what happened at first). It

      may sound vague (as it did to me at first) but keeping an positive attitude is the way to go. This thread has helped me a lot

      …someone commented above “if you’re going through hell, keep going” I guess that was an inspiration and I just kept going (off

      course not so smooth though 😉 you’ll find me numerous times on this thread)

      As Jane mentioned, most likely thing will be that your doctor will ask you to wait. Your surgery just happened and it’s difficult to

      diagnose the real cause. My doc won’t do an MRI post op because according to him there is a lot of ” unnecessary stuff” post op and

      it doesn’t give a true picture. I am about 12 weeks post op and have numerous things going on and every time I call, they ask me to

      wait and watch. I guess they are right, this will probably go away with time (and that’s why they say nerves take a long time to

      heal). One of the suggestions I can make is check if it’s getting worse…In my case my issues are pretty much the same, if they have

      not been improving, they have not gone worse. In your case if you feel you’re getting worse every day, contact your doctor ASAP.

      Waiting and wasting time is probably not worth it. Sorry, I do not have a very meaningful suggestion but I hope and pray that all goes


      @ Jane: Good to hear from you. Sorry for not replying back earlier. I was waiting to see if my sitting improves after the steroid

      course, it did not do any good. So, I am thinking it’s just of the things that will come with time.
      I am going for PT 2 times a week. My therapist tells me join Pilates and start with light swimming…I do some bike and pulleys but

      nothing aggressive at this time. Yes, I am scared to start with anything different at this time. I am thinking to just start with

      light swimming….do you think it’s a good idea?

      1. Hi Rashi,

        I was wondering if your sitting situation ever got better? I have the same issue with sitting as you. I had foot pain and wasn’t able to move my foot in February and March of 2012. Dr couldn’t figure it out and then in April I started having back pains and pain when sitting. It was a burning sensation in my glutes and back of thigh. I had an MRI and had herniatuon at L5/S1. I tried physical therapy and am epidural injection. Both helped with my foot and mobility. I still had the pain when I sat down though. I couldn’t sit longer for 30 minutes without having to get up. So my Dr said microdiscectomy was my last option. I am 3 weeks post op and still have some pains in my foot. Which I didn’t have since the ESI. I understand its from inflammation. I try to sit and I’m still having the burning feeling and I’m worried that this wont heal. Or if its a hip problem instead. I’m glad I found this site. It’s very uplifting. There are lot of negative stuff out there and it got me down. Since I found this site (2 days ago) I have been more motivated to stay positive. Like everyone else, I am scared of re herniating. I’m also worried about scar tissue wrapping around my nerves. Does anyone know when it starts forming and when it will stop? What stretches is everyone doing? I’m walking every hour and the only stretch I’m doing is bringing my knee to my chest when I lay on my back. Any information is greatly appreciated. I know I need to be more patient and to stay positive. This is a great support group

      2. Hi Chris – I don’t know if my sitting problem has resolved…all I can say is that it’s not increasing. So, I am taking that as a positive sign. You’re just 3 weeks post-op and usually they don’t recommend sitting too much. My PT tells me that sitting is the last thing I’ll get comfortable with. I have called my doctors many times and he says it will come with time. I have a very local/ central pain right below the back where hip area starts…I feel it more like stress pain as if I am putting huge weight on my hip bones or I might just break ’em…it gets better when I stand up and it just feels sore…sorry for being so detailed here but I am spending a lot of time with this feeling so it lingers 😉
        Well as far as I know, scar tissue begins to form around the 3rd week. The solution I was told is being mobile so I increased my frequency of walking right from week 2. I kept walking as much as I could. I used the walker for first 2 weeks… yikes! and yes…my doctor did tell me that I was progressing with a slower pace than the other but because I wasn’t competing so, I took it !
        Don’t worry about re-herniating…we all have that feeling….3 weeks post op or 3 months or 30 months. I guess whoever has gone through this will always have this on their mind. So, take a deep breath, increase your walking and read good books
        Oh and about stretching, I was hesitant to stretch but did gentle light stretches, mostly ankle pumps. My PT always tells me not to keep back very flat so she asks me put a small towel roll whiling doing knees to chest

        Last thing: be positive….nothing lasts forever!!!

      3. Its funny that you mention being flat on your back. I’m experience pains in my glutes and its causing my sciatica to act up on both legs. I think its from lying down too much but I’m not sure. Did anyone else have this issue? The only relief I have is when I’m up and walking but then I usually over do it with my back. Its kind of catch 22. Thank you for your advice. Thanks to this site and everyone’s comments, I see that there is hope and that I need to think positively and become stronger mentally too. Do you know when scar tissue stops forming? Sorry with all the questions but my surgeon must be busy this week because he has not returned any of my 3 calls.

  113. Hi everyone,
    I found this blog a week ago and it has kept me optimistic about my recovery. I am 3 weeks post op. I have had good and bad days. I have a question and was wondering if anyone can help me with it. I had weakness in my left foot and terrible burning in my hip/back of thigh when sitting for more than 20 minutes. I went to physical therapy and had 2 ESIs done. It cured all my foot pain and weaknesses. It didn’t help with the burning in my hip when I was sitting and so my dr said I should get the surgery. I still have the burning when trying to sit for short periods. I’m wondering if it could be a separate hip issue and not back related. Maybe a labral hip tear? It’s frustrating me because now I’m suffering from the foot pain and weakness again I’m which the ESI worked for. I just want to be able to sit without the pain. Thank you all and I hope that we all recover from this.

    1. I was wondering how everyone’s back felt like aftwards? Can you describe the pain? It use to be a heavy tightness for me but just recently it turned to a sharp pain in my spine. Scared I reherniated.

  114. Perfectly normal Binh. Just the drugs wearing off and the scarring taking over – naturally that tightens you up and aggravates the nerves. remember they’ve been through a ton of trauma. I’m over 14 months post op and still get a bit of burning now and then. It’s all part of the healing process. keep stretching and relax – we’ve all been there, mate.

    1. Thanks Andy! I’ve taken it easier the past few days due to the back pain but I’m finding that my foot is more numb and weaker than it usually is. Is it a bad sign that its getting worse? I’ll try wait it out few more days and see if it changes. I’m glad you’re doing better. I can’t wait to be 14 months post op!!!

      1. It’s hard for me to say Binh. If you’re worried then you should get it checked out. Just know that pain comes and goes and sometimes it does build up again over a period of time before it settles down and then wears off again. I’ve had lots of related secondary pains post op. All my pain was down the left and I’ve had lots of trouble on my right side with tfl and glute. As my doctor said, “we’ve cured the immediate problem but remember, the underlying mechanical causes of this still will need to be corrected, through PT and exercise”. Recovery is a big job and takes lots of focus and a positive “it will get better” attitude. So don’t be put off by setbacks, don’t stop moving. As they say in X-Factor “it’s a journey…” Ha!

      2. Andy! You had pain down your right side, even though surgery was on the left??? I’m 8 months out now, but stood too long in the kitchen cooking 4 weeks ago which caused my back to just constantly feel tired, not painful, just tired. Then, about 2 weeks ago, i started having some right-side pain in my butt and leg. It’s NOTHING compared to what the pain was like on the left side before surgery, but it feels alot like sciatica, and it is scaring me. I’m so worried I’ve herniated the other side of my disc. I have a vacation planned for next week because I was feeling so good, and now I’m scared I’ll be in pain the whole time. I’m going to the doctor this afternoon about it. Can you tell me more about your right-side pain? I’ve done alot of googling, and I’m hoping this is just inflammation from having tired out my back 4 weeks ago.

  115. Hello! I’m now 14 weeks past surgery, and I’m probably about 95%. I just felt morally obligated to come back and post that things are going well, especially since I had a flareup a couple weeks ago that lasted awhile and I posted about that, probably freaked some people out! 😉 I’m doing great now. I’m taking 2 Arthrotec a day (75 mg), and I am a tad sore at the end of the day if I do alot of stuff up on my feet. I have no issues with sitting at all, but standing in one place for too long does irritate my hip. So, I know I’m not that far out, but wanted to get another positive story on here! I will update if I do something amazing, or end up back to square one, let’s hope for the former!

    Jane, I am so sorry you’re having the pain again. If it were me, I would have surgery again. A couple weeks ago when I thought I might’ve reherniated, I allowed myself to ponder whether or not to have surgery again if it was reherniated. The pain is just so unbearable, and you’re so young! I might even go for a fusion if I ever reherniate, just because I’ve heard tons of good stories about people who’ve had them and have their lives back. I know there’s lots of bad, but there’s lots of bad about the microdiscectomies too, and we know that they wouldn’t do them if they weren’t likely to be successful. I hope you start to feel better. My thoughts are with you!

  116. Has anyone else experience more numbness and pain in the 4th week? Tomorrow will be the 5 week mark but starting last week, my foot has been in more pain when I’m doing my walking. It is pretty painful and sciatica is starting to effect both my glutes and legs. Before it was just my left. My back seem to be in pain too. I hope its just inflammation but what would cause it to be worse now rather than getting better.

  117. Hi, I had a microdiscectomy on 11/20/12 and thought i reherniated it a few weeks after. I got another MRI and these were the results.

    L5-S1: Postsurgical changes from left laminectomy. There is a disc desiccation with broad based recurrent or residual central and left paracentral disc protrusion with local enhancement along the left posterior lateral disc margin. The protrusion results in mild mass effect upon the left ventral thecal sac and central left S1 nerve root which posteriorly displaced. No sequestered disc fragment. No significant canal stenosis or foraminal narrowing.

    Does that mean I reherniated or is that just inflammation? It sounds like there is another herniation pressing on the nerve root. Thank you

    1. Hi Chris. I had my surgery on May 15th and two weeks later was back in for an MRI because I also thought I reherniated. My results were almost the same as yours. They can’t tell that soon after – there is inflammation due to the surgery and scar tissue could be forming. I had the option of going under again and having them open me up just to see what is was, but I chose not to. Seven months later, I just finished physical therapy. I am functioning at a high level but still have issues with my leg from the impact of the disc on my S1 nerve. Have you gone back to your surgeon for a consult? What advise are they giving you? Are you following through with PT? It’s a long recovery – hang in there.

      1. Hi Sheri. Thank you for responding. I have a follow up with my surgeon next week. I got the MRI through my pain and management doctor and picked up the results. I did talk to the surgeon on the phone and he just told me to take more anti-inflammatories. He ordered some lab work to be done in case its infected. Which I don’t think it is. I’m not showing any of those symptoms. Yes, I started physical therapy last week. When did you start yours? So did you have to do PT for 7 months? I hope that your leg issues resolves itself. I heard how long the process can take and I’m learning to be more patient. I find myself rereading these comments when I’m feeling down and it gives me hope.

      2. Hey Chris. I started PT a few weeks after the procedure. Kept it up for about 5 months total. It’s nice that we have this forum to be able to keep connected and reach out to other’s. It’s important! The chances of reherniating are always greater right after surgery. According to my doctor, after that, you should be in the clear. However, that doesn’t mean you should resume all activities right away. Be careful with any motion that puts stress on your back i.e. jumping jacks, running etc. And of course take care when lifting, bending, pushing and pulling. Your body will give you messages and let you know when it’s had enough. Keep up with the therapy and get your core strong and stretching is also very important. Walking helps!!!

  118. Hey Sheri, sorry to bother you again but I had a question. When you thought you reherniated, did you suffer from the same symptoms as before the surgery and for how long? The reason I ask is because I feel the exact same as I did before the surgery. My foot is just as weak and numb. I also still have the burning down my thigh whenever I sit. I think I’m going to wait to see if it improves but I figure that I’d have some relief or at least different symptoms. I’m just worried since its exactly the same as before the surgery.

    1. Hey Chris. Right after the surgery I felt great relief, but I was still on pain meds. After all of that wore off, about a week later, is when I started to feel the pain in my leg again. I went right back to the surgeon who sent me for the MRI. His advise to me was to give it time. Since the nerve is so large, and was under so much stress before the surgery, it was going to take time for it to feel better. Keep doing your PT. You will need to strengthen the muscles in your leg. The weakness is going to get better with time. I still have issues with my foot as well, but not nearly as bad as even a few months ago. Nerves heal very slowly. Be patient and listen to your body. If you are in a great deal of pain, then you need to address it as soon as possible. Feel better.

      1. Hi, I saw the Dr. again and my suspicions were right. I re-herniated. Its a very small herniation and I am going to try to get an epidural injection to see if it’d help rather than do another surgery. I’m worried that I will have to do a fusion if another surgery is required. So hoping the esi and physical therapy should help.

  119. Great to hear about the slow healing of the nerve. I am recovering from my second microdisectomy. The first was just a few weeks back on 11/15/12. I felt great for about 2 weeks. A few days of zapping pain which was scary but, got better quickly that week. The day after my 2 week check up with the nurse practioner, I began to get the intense leg pain and was in worse shape then before the surgery. I was scheduled for another MRI and met with the surgeon 5 weeks post op and sure enough a fragment had ruptured and was resting on my nerve. My Dr. Scheduled an esi ASAP to get me throughout the holidays and to stretch out the time between surgeries. He stated he didn’t want to do surgery so soon after the first one. So I waited until the holidays were over and he scheduled my surgery for Jan. 8 th, so here I am 1 week after my second surgery, laying down because of the pain in my leg. I’m hoping this will get better. It is very close to the original pain I felt prior to any surgery. I did have pain for well over a year, with 2 months relief from esi’s and 1 week after the first surgery. I am hoping it is just slow to improve because of the time it was irritated. This is the first site I have seen that has people improving and sharing their experiences. I am shocked about my back problems as I did not have any accident or major stressor to begin any back problems. What was the length of time anyone began to feel leg pain improvement?

    1. Hi Mary

      Sorry to hear you’ve had to endure two surgeries. You can expect the pain to subside very slowly. Sometimes almost imperceptibly. But it does ease as the nerve inflammation and irritation calms down. But you have to work at it too. Stretching, core stabilization work, rehab exercise and lots of walking is essential. Someone told me that nerves recover at a rate if about 1mm a day. Another told me to give myself a year and a half for full nerve regeneration. I’m about at that point now and I get almost no pain, save for the occasional naghing nerve pain when ive done too much. Pretty great considering when I went in for surgery I couldn’t walk or stand up straight!
      However, you will probably never sit well again – which is good because we are not made for sitting and it’s just no good for our backs. I’m now used to that and find it rather amusing when I get up to walk around in long meetings and people assume I’m making a decisive point about the meeting subject. Ha!
      Stay positive and keep at it. Your recovery takes time and effort. It’s like having another job. Probably the most important one of your life so work hard. Best wishes. Andy

    2. Hi Mary- sitting comes last, that’s what my PT tells me. I am 4 months post op and still not comfortable with sitting. You can find me in this thread and I am the one whining most about sitting 😉 as my job requires me to sit all day. Everyone told me that sitting comes with time so I am just trying to be patient!
      Good luck with everything and welcome to the world of recovery!

  120. Wow – When I wrote this blog 3 years ago, I never expected to get so many responses and stories from people sharing their experiences with microdiscectomy. I hope everyone is doing well and feeling better. It’s been 3 years since my surgery and I feel stronger than ever. I hope this encourages you all. Keep fit, stretch, and eat right. Sadly it doesn’t mean instant recovery for everyone, but I know it has helped me. Good luck everyone! – Rick

  121. Thanks for the article. I am getting ready for surgery of herniated L5 s1 disc within a month or less. Lived with it for 30 years. Hoping I can get back to lifting weights down the road again.

    1. I had my micro on L5/S1 on 23rd January, and ended up being discharged earlier than I was meant to. I’m 27 years old and had been suffering significant pain in the left leg/butt/hip. I work in a job which requires sitting for most of the day so I am planning on awaiting my post op appt at the five week mark before returning to work, and hoping to ease myself back with part time hours. Post op my leg pain is gone, but I have a very stiff and sore back around the incision which is to be expected. I have been walking a bit although feel I over did it yesterday which was my fourth day post op by walking too far. Today I have significant tightness in my hips but I’m sure that will go with more time and walking.

      I will attempt to get into Pilates and PT at the six week mark although I’m very cautious of taking it easy based on all of the great contributions here.

      Anyone been fishing since their op? I’m hoping to get back into a few recreational activities but I think it might be better to wait Neil the 12 week mark before being out on a boat for a whole day!

      I’m thinking of getting a Swiss ball to use as my office chair upon my return as I’m sure my poor posture and cheap work chair don’t help at all.

      Thanks to everyone for all their contributions, great reading. Here’s wishing everyone the best with their recoveries and please keep the stories and advice coming.

  122. Hi all!
    I’m approaching my one-year since my L5/S1 microdiscectomy! YAY!! The past year has done a number on my patience, but I’ve learned that “flare ups” are normal, and they usually become less frequent and less intense. An avid exerciser, I’ve noticed I have the most trouble with squats. Side lunges too (which is basically a “half squat’). Seems to make sense, given that you’re hinging forward. Lunges are good…plie squats too. I’ve become a HUGE fan of barre classes (AMAZING!! Google to find a nearby studio…it’s an amped up version of physical therapy! Does anyone else find squats to be so extremely frustrating to do??? THANKS! 🙂

    1. Hi Megan,
      After 3 years, I’m still quite nervous to do anything squat related. I’ve recently been doing the TapOutXT and there’s squat related excercises in the program (no weights) and I find those are OK for me to do. Have noticed that if my level of physical activity goes down (like during the holidays when I’ve been eating everything in sight and lounging around) those types of flare ups start to resurface. For instance, I will admit that I have been in chill mode.. but , lower back area, near my incision has been sore, right foot has been weak, and my hip has a little bit of tightness. It’s like you constantly have to keep moving to prevent from reherniating. Anyways.. thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. Makes me feel good that I’ve helped foster conversation for everyone going through this.

    2. Hi megan, I am year and a half post surgery… i second your observation, i did some knee push ups and some squates and got leg pain again.. so i was thinking whats wrong.. after some days rest i tried squats again and observed that squats are causing me trouble… so now i am more or less limited to knee push ups,leg raise and other stretching exercises. will try lunges and plie squats now…

  123. Hi all, I’m 17 days post op from an L5/S1 micro and spent some time sitting yesterday and now have a strong sciatic pain in my left leg which had not been present since the op. is this normal? Is there a chance I’ve done myself some damage? I assume from reading the posts here that its quite normal however given I’d been pain free and now have it quite a bit of discomfort, I’m pretty concerned. Would love some reassurances!

      1. I dont know how true this is some people say nerve heal inch per week or cm per week or some mm ?also anyone know how many inches it want to heal.. couldn’;t find any proper info about it on net..

      2. I think it’s one of those “rule of thumb measurements”. But just to quickly do the math. Most of us had sciatic nerve problems down to the end of our feet, right? I’m 5’10”. At an inch a week of healing time, over say half your body (low back to feet), that’s a bit over 6 months. The other calculation I’ve been given was a millimetre a day. That would put the healing time at two and a half years. I’ve been a year and a half and still get the occasional flare up (nothing too bad). I reckon I really turned a corner at about 9 months; virtually no pain. Hang in there guys – it gets better!

      3. Thanks Andy for explaination and
        oops ! first time I aint feeling good for me being tall 🙂 I am 6’+
        5 days more and it will be marking 18months for my surgery.. I dont know if i feel happy or not about surgery and it was never my decision.. it became emergency (+ I had on two levels L4/5&L5/S1) but I am very very very better now and i am doing almost all the things (except for lifting weights (I don’t even lift 10lbs until must)) and avoiding bikes!!
        But now i got some extra fat ..getting rid of extra fat is very tough when you have limited exercises to do (or when you are afraid that you will do something wrong so you limit yourself)

      4. as most of us here know,or are finding out,we cant do a lot of the things we used to enjoy for workouts. a few i have found are versaclimber,paddleboarding and eliptical….and lots of hikes. oh how i miss a good run though..

      5. Hi Steve,
        You shouldn’t be worried about doing weights or riding your bike. I ride about 300kms a week and do weights too. Most important to doing either is having a strong core to help protect your back and keep you in good form for everything you do (i highly recommend pilates). I don’t do squats and dead lifts because of the pressure but u can do just about everything else. Just build up slowly.

      6. yup thats big morale booster 🙂 I think i should start doing pilates.. till now i was just doing ex. on my own… i think i should find some pilates instructor.. my biggest prob is my working hours .. leave at morning 9am and come back at 9pm… so its tough to do anything after comig back.. but ill for sure try to go for pilates class..
        thanks again.

    1. It’s perfectly normal mate. If you have to sit for an extended period it’s going to irritate an already inflamed nerve. In my early days if I had to sit for prolonged periods, if get up every 10 mins and stand for a bit. Makes for funny dinners in restaurants mind you! You’ll be ok, just build up gradually. I’m a year and a half post op a d still get the occasional pain. Learn to be nice to your new back

  124. Hi rick

    I am 34 years old and got the surgery for l5 s1 . I am in 3rd week of recovery and have sorts of burning sensationin my legs n butt. Did this happen to you ? Further 40 mins of walk daily.. Hmm thats fine but how did you spent your rest of the time ? 🙂 I have been reading al blogs and this is the first blog which is positive and given me hope… I guess am too worried about life and chances of re herniation … Would like to hear back from you.worried about life ahead and chances of re herniation re herniation.. Would like to heart back

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the great blog. I’m 34 and had my op 9 weeks ago. Before surgery my I had had sciatica for a year. It had got a lot better on its own but would kick off if I tried to do anthing sporty (it kicked off after horseriding and cycling etc). It felt like a clamp on my hamstring and sometimes pain radiating to my foot. I used to be very sporty so thought I’d have the op as I didn’t want the sciatica to be stopping me from sport. Ahem, naive choice I know, but my sister had the same issue with the same disc, had the op and was pain free after 3 days and after 3 months was doing cycle competitions again, so I had that as my example… (Also, for all of you feeling down – People Take Hope!- it can go fabulously.)


      I was told the op went brilliantly by the surgeon. He said that he had to remove some of he nerve roofing to get to the disc and allow more space for the nerve, so I guess I had a more extensive procedure than some.

      Post op the pain is a lot worse than pre-op, but I think it’s improving. In the first month I would get spasms in hamstings and calf if I walked too fast and also felt very weak in buttock and calf. Started physio- stretching and gentle exercises to use butt muscles.

      At 9 weeks the spasms aren’t so bad. They still come on but I can walk further and faster. The exercises (which are ridiculously gentle) have improved the weakness a bit, but it’s still there. In the morning when I get up the leg always feels weak. HOwever, after a brief walk, it feels much better.

      Without medication the pain is sharp and in your face and I don’t want to walk when it’s there, as it’s so uncomfortable. I also get upset when people walk near in case they’re going to kick my leg by accident. However, nerve pain blockers help lots. If I take amitriptyine they make the pain just a dull pulling sensation and the spasms less. I need to take 60mg for them to work though (max dose is 100mg per day). I don’t take painkillers.

      Is this a normal place to be at 2 months post op? Is there anyone who needed quite high level nerve blockers 2 months post op who no longer needs them? I’d love to hear from anyone in this situation.

      My surgeon has recommended a nerve injection and stated that if the pain hasn’t settled by 3 months then I’ll probably be left with it. Physio says 3-6 months is a more realistic time frame. Any thoughts?

      I never had any weakness pre op and wonder whether I will be left with this as a lasting problem or whether it will slowly get better?

      Thanks in advance for any thoughts and wishing all in this situation a good recovery

      1. 9 weeks are too early to judge if your op was success or fail… i even had issues after 4months of OP but it got better with time… so ya it takes time…and it obv. depends on how long your nerve have been compressed… it takes time to heal.. but ya it should be going down it shoul not be same as before and stagnant or getting worse than that..good luck..have nice and faster recovery..

      2. Hi Steve,

        Thanks for your comments. Would you mind letting me know whether you manage without nerve blockers/pain killers now? If so, at what stage were you able to wean off them? I need 5 gabapentin per day (1500mg out of an allowed max of 1800mg) at the moment to block things and not sure how long before I’ll be able to get off these.

        I start tai chi this week which I’m hoping will be a gentle way to start building up my core again.

        Thanks so much for your help.

  125. Hi all,

    I was hoping to gain some feedback from other who have gone through the discectomy surgery. I had a discectomy on 11/26/12 on L5/S1. The surgery went very well and I’ve been recovering and in PT since. About a month after surgery, my sciatic pain started coming back and hasn’t gone away. Mainly pain during an type of strain but sometimes out of the blue or just while sitting or moving in bed. Last week, my Dr, who is the head of spine services at the hospital, ordered another MRI to find out why the pain returned and hasn’t gone away. I met with him today to find out the results of the MRI. The MRI report states that there is a large amount of enhancing scar tissue within the postlaminectomy site. There is a small amount of enhancing scar tissue surrounding the S1 nerve route and along the right paracentral margin of the L5/S1 disc. No evidence of recurrent or residual herniation is seen.

    My doctor is telling me he is not sure why I’m still experiencing sciatic pain and I need to give it more time. I asked him if the scar tissue could be causing a problem and he said he couldn’t be sure because surgery causes scar tissue. Additionally, I asked him about endoscopic procedures to remove the scar tissue and he told me that he’s never done them before. He basically wrote me off and told me if would get better.

    My question for folks here is has anyone had problems with scar tissue aggravating the nerve after surgery and if so, what are my options to correct it? Any feedback would be great. Thanks a lot!

    1. yes i think all have scar tissue to some degree after this procedure. massage will get rid of scar tissue but be very careful with that and use someone who knows what they are doing. maybe there is a massage therapist where you had the operation done? i know cleanses help but to each their own,i did a 22 day water cleanse that got rid of it for me. good luck

    2. HI Jason, I had L5S1 discectomy in may last year. all was great afterwards, i swam and walked a lot and resumed gentle jogging in about august. by early sept, sciatic pain returned. was told exercise didn’t aggravate it – mri showed that more disc had protruded following surgery but there was no nerve compression. I think this is the key – if the nerve isn’t compressed then it should eventually settle down. mine did settle with a long holiday and lyrica (with a steroid injection also, which i thought didn’t work). now i’m back at work 6 weeks and nerve has flared up again. I’ve found a great physio (my surgeon, described as ‘the best’ by everyone you ask is totally against physio/s BTW and says “whatever you do don’t let them stretch your hamstring”) who is really knowledgeable and up on the latest research. he advises small gentle “movements” to alleviate the pain, stay on lyrica – which he thinks is the best medication for sciatic pain – and to gently increase exercise from my pre-sciatica regime. re your ‘scar tissue’ i had heard about this prior to my surgery and was worried about it happening to me. my surgeon said that a lot of people talk about scar tissue but don’t know what they’re talking about. sorry i am not clear on the whys etc but I think you should be finding out who the very best (conservative) surgeon is and seek their opinion. good luck, kat

    3. I don’t think you can really effectively massage that deep. Scar tissue will fade with time but to do that you have to move and get the nerves to move through the protective sheath. PT, pilates, nerve glides and stretching, weekly massage, anti inflamatories when you get flare ups, zinc, chromium and other supplements help too. I’m post L5S1 for a year and a half and still get flare ups. They pass quickly and are much less severe but you’re going to have to live with some level of irritation now and again and you have to manage and care for your back. I’ve come to think of it as a New Normal. Good luck Jason – stay positive and keep at it!

      1. Thanks for the replies so far all. Sure, I’m aware that everyone is going to have scar tissue after the surgery and flare ups are common. What I’m wondering is for those of you who have/had deep scar tissue which seemed to be causing nerve irritation, will this pain subside over time? My problem isn’t necessarily a flare up but the deep scar tissue is potentially touching my S1 nerve route. Thanks again all!

  126. Folks – It’s great to refer to this blog every now and then. It keeps you sane.I am at week 24 (about 5 months out) …. and just wanted to write about my progress plus have couple of questions
    I think I am recovering okay but it’s slow and expected. I am just thankful cannot sit for more than 30 minutes and those car drives to work, sometimes kill me. My job is sedentary so I make sure to get up after every 30 minutes and take a walk. I feel much better when I walk. I use a back brace which seemed to help a LOT!!
    I exercise but light stuff at this time mostly to train core muscles. I get stiff in the mornings and still have good and bad days. Take one anti-inflammatory, at night and PT once a week. Able to do quite a bit of stuff (as compared to before) but very slowly honestly, because I am scared of over doing.. There are nights when I fear that I might have overdone something…guess that will linger for long..Overall, still try to take it easy and keep fingers crossed
    Tried couple of laps, front crawl, but abandoned because I was scared of twisting while breathing out…anybody fear that? I felt good after the swim but the fear of rotating/ twisting spine is keeping me away. Please tell me if I am over-worrying??
    Another thing, I been wanting to asking is about pregnancy after this type of surgery and impact on the back? Does anyone have experience with that? If so, please share, it’d mean a lot to me.
    As always, appreciate your responses!

  127. Hi all, Im about to have my M’discectomy in 3 weeks, and must admit, reading these blogs is refreshing and encouraging news I’ve had a herniated L4-5, (like most people here) and the pain has been extreme at times, mostly from sciatica nerve inflammation. Walking short distances or even just standing was horrendous. I found PT did very little to help. Celebrex was a big help, but l didnt want to live on meds. I’ve previously been very active, and try and remain so for physical and mental health. I was mortified knowing l didnt have much choice but to have surgery, A previous CT guided epidural did absolutely nothing to relieve pain. I am now at a point where l can get my head around the surgery part. I really look forward to getting back to as-normal as possible, and reading your stories has truly benefited me. Best,
    MA – Melbourne Aust.

  128. Evening all, great blog Rick, good to read so many folks have come back after the operation in good order. I had a L5/S1 micro discectomy this monday gone (4th Mach) as with all the above had bad pain in left hip bum hamstring and calf, had been taking up to 20 pills in any one day, now five days after i am down to a couple of paracentmol a day for inscision wound, my one question is, i have a little bit of pain left in my left calf, not bad but still there netherless, is this normalish ? will it go over time ? comments much welcome, also i have a lot of weird sensation in my left calf gurggerling and mumblerling and fluttering away not pain full just feels strange. Any ways that me for now, again great blog. All the best Dan

    1. All this is very normal and will go away. This is one of the many things that happen .. all are a part of the healing process. Healing takes time and patience! Hang in there and you’ll be just fine

  129. So the numbness in my foot has gone away but it still feels like I’m walking on a rock. Does anyone know if that gets better with time? I’m 4 months post op. It is also difficult for me to flex at the ankle and I still have weakness when trying to stand on ball of my foot to do calf raise.

    1. expect a year for things to settle down to the point of not noticing. there will be days of sensation after that however. walking is the best thing you can do right now and try to do it daily. if there is extra weight to lose,this is the time to address that as well. been almost 2 years since i had my operation and if i put on 10 extra pounds i certainly start getting flareups. good luck.

    2. Binh – I am 10 months post op and I still feel like I am walking on a rock. In fact that is EXACTLY what I told my surgeon during the last follow up. It’s a hyper sensitivity. Be patient with the weakness. It really just takes time. Feel better.

  130. Afternoon all, Well after 6 days i am a little dis heartend, after what i was thinking a promising start i am feeling pretty rubbish, pain in my calf again returns, am taking it slow i think, doing only what my rehab instructer has told me, have started taking B vit complex as have been told its good for the regeneration of damaged nerves, Have any of you out there been given any advice on any supps to take. I know its been less then a week but am worried its not gone to plan. Hope you all had a weekend. Dan

    1. I’m a year post op L5/S1. Flareups and less frequent and less intense with time. Takes a LOT of patience. I take tumeric and tart cherry juice to reduce inflammation. Lots if great info out there about these and reducing inflammation.

    2. My neurologist recommended CoQ10 and Alpha Lipoic Acid. Also, make sure that you are able to absorb B12. If not, you may have to take it by injection. Have your levels checked.

  131. Hi,

    I posted a month ago. I had an L5/s1 microdiscectomy 3 months ago yesterday. Pre-op the sciatica wasn’t terrible, but I’m very sporty and it would kick off whenever I did sport and after a year I’d had enough and went for the op. I would have days pre-op where I did no sport when I was fine and could hardly feel it. Most of the time I managed without meds.

    Since the op the sciatica and pain has increased about 10 fold. I was told that during the op they didn’t just do a microdiscetomy, but also took off roofing of sciatic nerve to create more space. I now can’t cope without 6 gabapentin, diclofenac and nortriptyline. Pain increases every time I try to do any activitiy (I can’t even do bird dog, stepper, or anything more than very basic physio). I have been able to increase my walking tolerance and speed (when dosed up). Before I used to spasm quickly whenever I walked fast and now this doesn’t happen and I managed a 4-5 mile walk the other day which I couldn’t manage a few weeks ago due to spasms. I had to take a lot of pain killers to do this though.

    Re-scan has shown no re-hernation and all looks normal. This has been like this since straight after the op and I’ve been told it was therefore something in the op, not scar tissue. I’ve been told it’s probably inflammation, which may settle or the nerve may have been “poked” during the procedure in which case it won’t. S1 nerve block didn’t work. I don’t think this is the nerve reecovering from the previous compression, as it was never anything like this before.

    Has anyone been in this level of pain at 3 months, who then made a recovery. I’m really low at the moment as I was told at 3 months I’d know my final outcome and the idea of having this for ever doesn’t bear thnking about. Any good recoveries out there?

    Fingers crossed and hoping for news from someone else who’s been through this and was ok.

    1. Hi there, I haven’t posted on here for a while. I wanted to give an update on my situation and hope it will encourage others. As briefly as I can, I had sciatica for about five months until it was a 10 out of 10. The herniation was at s1. A nerve root block block and Physio failed to make a significant difference so I had the surgery in May last year. The results were marvellous, I did it very slowly and very soon felt like a new woman. I also lost about 14 pounds in weight I think. Then in August that year, I sat on low furniture and before I knew it was back to square one. I did not have the numbness thankfully but the pain was agonising. And I think the pain after the operation is much harder to tolerate some reason? I then had a nerve root block in September as an MRI scan showed I had reherniation to it and was one of the unlucky 10 to 20% that do after surgery. I was told if it didn’t work I would need another surgery, and whether to fail I would have to have a fusion. I just couldn’t face it. The reason was I am self-employed and everytime I don’t work I do not earn. The nerve roots block was a roaring success, and I started to feel really good not 100% but much better than I ever thought I code. It was a case of fingers crossed. I then went on a Christmas party wearing heeled boots and then the old monster came back! I then started to do a number of things including buying posture eight seats including the back friend which I use a lot and also something called the human tool to work at desks on. I was extremely depressed and my physio recommended more diclofenac from my doctor. I was extremely despondent and complained that it hadn’t worked in the past, but I have had weeks and weeks of anti-inflammatories and the problem not gone away. This time however the anti-inflammatories – three weeks of them did seem to make a difference. This year since 30 January I have been practising a fast diet where you fast two days a week having only 500 cals and eat normally at other times. It is very new but has proven to have anti-inflammatory qualities. That in combination with three sessions of acupuncture has made an incredible difference to my life. The reason I am posting this is that I know how tough it is when pain comes back or increases and it just seems so impossible to whatever gets better. In my experience things have worked well sometimes and not so well at other times and it really is worth keeping trying. I am so sorry to hear that your pain has increased I think you’re doing the right thing in speaking to the doctors about it. You know your own body, but equally when you’re in a depressed state of mind it is so difficult to heed advice to wait and see. Lots of us on this forum will have been through some other things and I can’t believe I am now swimming and even did a few little situps of my stomach is a bit jellylike! In all seriousness good luck with everything but I do hope that something will come right. Don’t feel It will never get better. You are clearly in genuine pain but relief could be possible and around the corner

  132. Hi all, well i have just been back to the Dr to have my stitches to be removed, only to be told by the nurse that there was no stitches ?? any one else just had what appears to have been just a plaster over the wound ? any hows the nurse has said the wound is healing well, and is neat and tidy. Any ways i have been looking into alternative medicines and foods, those that help to regenerate the compressed nerves and the like, there is loads of stuff out there, has any one used any of the following DL-phenylalanine, Acetyl-L-Carnite, well i hope all is well, “not sure yet” hang in there, i was told it takes at least the six months before it all settles downi, its killing me waiting to get back out there and do some phys, seeing all the guys going out on execise doing the buisness while you sit it out is depressing, but as every one on this blog has mentioned we have to take it slow and easy, WE WILL CONQUER AND OVERCOME.

    1. It’s true, 6 months seems to be a magical time. I just hit 6 months, and this is the first time that I haven’t had to take at least 1 Arthrotec every other day. I’ve been working out lightly (The FIRM’s The Wave that focuses on core strength, and only using 5 pound weights), and things seem to be going very well. I can still irritate my leg, but seriously, I kid you not, 6 months to the day, things started to feel so much better.

  133. I am just at 6 months post-op L4/5, S1 and have been good up until the last few weeks – having some back and leg pain issues and am hoping it is due to sitting at work, the cold weather and not getting as much walking in as I would like – do you think the increase in the pain is due to these factors?? So afraid of reherniation that I don’t even want to call the doctor. Anyone this far out feeling this way? Any responses will be helpful.

  134. Thanks for your replies guys- appreciated. Encouraging to hear that things may get better at the 6 month mark. If physio and exercise increase your pain, did you up the meds and do it anyway, on the basis that strengthening the muscles must be good for the back and body generally, or did you back off. I’ve been backing off so far, but am wondering whether that’s the right decision. My physio seems to think I should be able to do more by now, but the surgeon says don’t do physio if it seems to aggravate. All very confusing…… All I want to do is physio and get on with it, but not sure that’s wise.

    Thanks again.

    1. Yes, it is very confusing. I had l5 s1 discectomy in may 2012. all seemed to go incredibly well then nasty flare up in august 2012 which lasted through to october 2012 then another one end jan2013 til now. I am taking lyrica, nurofen plus and panadol osteo every day and awaiting results of MRI this week. My highly regarded surgeon is vehemently ANTI physio, says he gets physios in “all the time” who say their stretches and exercises made their sciatica much worse. Nevertheless, I went to see a physio during my October 2012 flare-up who came highly recommended. He has helped me through both post operative flare ups with gentle exercises that seem to open up the back and create space around the inflamed sciatic nerve. I beleive the object is to relieve the nerve and settle it down. It’s a long slow process but I think the only one that is safe. (NB I persisted with running and other weight bearing exercises in the months that lead up to my may 2012 operation because i was advised it was best to keep going with normal exercise routines. I now think this was bad advice.) I would be really keen to know if you have found relief in other ways.

  135. Does anyone know who has had a microdiscectomy……how much of the nucleus was taken out? Some surgeons only take out a floating “sequestered” piece, some take out the buldging nucleus piece, then some try to take all the nucleus out. This is to prevent reherniation. They then leave the annulus (outer piece) still there. However, if all nucleus is taken out, there is no shock absorbtion at all. I’ve been to a few surgeons. I finally found one I like, however, this one wants to do a microdisectomy L5-S1 and take all the nucleus out. He also said I’m not a candidate for any running or higher impact sports in the future. Fine, I can deal with not being a daily runner…..elliptical and bike will be fine. However, can anyone tell me if they had ALL the nucleus taken out and still able to engage well in some sports. Is taking out the entire nucleus good?

  136. Message to Steve:

    You said you were still having problems at 4 months. Would you mind letting me know if this was pain and, if so, what amount of medication you needed and if you managed to get off this and when. I’m not far off 4 months and in a lot of pain and am finding 1800mg gabapentin (neurontin) and 3 50mg diclofenac, and nortriptyline at night isn’t enough.

    GB, I’m afraid I don’t know about whether taking out the entire nucleus is good I’m afraid. It sounds quite drastic. I just had a bit of mine removed. I think my problem arises because they then went and took the roofing off my S1 sciatic nerve which is a much more extensive procedure (and without my consent!).

    1. Hi not sure yet,
      I just took 5 days off work, complete bed rest and one or twoflexura d daily. Pain/numbness/tingling started to wear off automatically after it. howeveri continued to do stretching exercise..
      I am not 19 months post surgery and surprisingly today i have so much pain. Hopefully it whould fade soon
      Stay positive and contact your surgeon if in doubt…
      Hope pain goes soon and keep us posted

      1. Thanks for the reply Steve. I’ve booked a lie by the holiday pool 1st week of May, and am hoping that will do something similar for me then. Sorry to hear you’re in so much pain today though. Is this just an aberration? After the pain wore off were you able to do sport, such as cycling, swimming etc?

      2. Hi not so sure,
        I am not much of sports person, but there is nothing in general i felt i couldn’t do. Occasionally i run a mile or so and it felt OK. tried to swim a little for enjoyment in polpools and that was also fun no issue at all,, though i started to swim after getting in and didn’t dive. Don’t know how diving will be and no issues. and ya the pain became fine next day so you can say it was just aberration. Though i took one pain killer to subsidize it..

  137. Jane, I notice that acupuncture helped you. I am considering trying this. Massage has given me a little relief, but only very short term. What acupuncture did you have: traditional chinese or more sports injury/pain relief? My physio practice do this but not traditional chinese and I am wondering which is best?

    Has anyone else tried acupunture? If so, would be interested to hear of your experiences.

    Thank you so much for all of your helpful comments and input. It’s so reassuring to know I’m not facing this alone (although of course I also wouldn’t wish this on anyone else!)

    1. Hi there, I had acupuncture last year when symptoms of sciatica first appeared. The chinese doctor with a muscular-skeletal specialty practice administered small needles like thumbtacks which were left in for about a week. This doctor is well regarded and so busy he’s difficult to get in so see. However, his treatment didn’t work. My pain increased to the point where I couldn’t walk. I had surgery in May last year and pain returned in AugSept – turns out I am one of the 10% for whom surgery fails. I dealing with current pain with lyrica + anti inflammatories. The hope is the nerve will settle without further surgery. Good luck with yours.

    2. Hi Jane,

      My sciatica pain started about 6 months ago (from compression of a prolapsed disc L4-L5). I had been seeing physio twice per week and also performed dry-needling. More often, the pain after my sessions left me worse off. I have been seeing a remedial therapist for about 3 months, and this gave me some relief, albeit short term. I joined my local gym and worked out all parts of my legs (quads,hams,calves) with lighter weights of about 20 reps each. I also focused on my core and by far, the gym sessions helped the most, to a point where i ceased taking pain killers and anti-inflammatories. I was not 100% pain free, but l managed to reduce my pain spasms significantly. Self help is important!
      I just had my discectomy surgery this past Monday (4 days ago) and thankfully all signs of sciatica pain are gone.
      Initially l had numbness in my leg/foot, which has decreased to almost no numbness at all. I am obviously feeling the dull pain in my lumbar from the surgery, and this is reducing constantly day by day.
      I believe its essential to have a positive outlook always and never get stuck under a dark cloud (mentally). I started walking one day after my surgery, and gradually increasing my distance walked,

  138. I got another doubt after many days 🙂
    I was reading somewhere that even after surgery is done, we still have a hole in disc which never heals (don’t know how true that is).
    Also in that case, even if we work out our core msucles and have nice muscles, how can we be sure that we will be fine… i mean that hole opened always can’t it reherniate easily ? with little bending or lifting or whatever??
    don’t want to scare anyone!!! but got this doubt so thought will post.. guess someone would have asked thr surgeon.. want to know different view point..

    1. I have done a lot of reading about this as well. I’m not an expert but I’ll share what I have learned. I am 4 weeks out for a discetomy/laminectomy/bilateral foraminectomy.

      Apparently when the outer layer of the disc (annulus) tears and the inner material comes out (herniates) and it’s removed by surgery, the original tear/hole is still there. There are procedures out there to close the tear but it sounds like they’re not being covered by insurance yet (I’m not sure if they’re experimental or what). I believe XClose is the name of one of them.

      Anyway, most of what I’ve read indicates that the biggest risk of re-herniation is within 6-12 weeks post-op. Which is a great reminder to all of us to TAKE IT EASY for the first few months. However, it sounds like we will always have a great risk than everyone else and we have to treat our backs accordingly.
      I came across an interview with a surgeon online that I found interesting.
      See below:
      After a microdiscectomy, does a section of soft-tissue remain open?
      Dr. Bonaroti: Yes, when we do a microdiscectomy, we trim back the portion of the disc that’s pressing on the nerve. After we clean that out of there, there’s usually an opening or a hole in the wall of the disc, and currently, there’s been no good way to repair that hole in the wall. That’s been true as long as we’ve been doing microdiscectomies, or discectomies in general, for decades. Even in this day of modern technology, we have no good way of repairing the disc, so we just trim back the disc and hope that that area heals with scar tissue and protects the patient from re-herniating the disc, but that doesn’t always work. At least 10 percent, maybe as high as 15 percent, of patients who have a discectomy will have a re-herniation of that disc and often require additional surgery.
      Is the re-herniation caused by the opening that’s still left behind?
      Dr. Bonaroti: We think that contributes a lot. The idea is that that area should heal by scar tissue formation, but we know that it doesn’t always heal, and if it does heal, it may not heal very strongly, so it does predispose patients. There’s very good evidence to suggest that the larger that opening is, the more likely the re-herniation.

      I also read this on and thought it was a good summary.
      “It is notable that bending, lifting and twisting may increase the recurrence rate in the first 6 weeks, so my patients do not do any other exercise other than walking for that time period. After 6 weeks a return to normal activities is initiated. It is important to remember that the back is not normal after disc surgery and that care needs to be taken in the future. Bending, lifting and twisting need to be avoided as these activities ultimately may have precipitated the initial event. Recovery from surgery is not a license to return to normal. Good back care is the rule for life.”

      I would hate for us all to become fearful and anxious with this knowledge and instead use it as a reminder that our backs are not “normal” and need to be treated with more TLC than the average person’s back. I also read that the inner material of the disc is gel-like but dehydrates with age and becomes more like crab meat. So perhaps it doesn’t pop out quite as easily as we imagine!

    2. Hey Liv, thanks for long explanation
      My microd (two levels) was in august 2011, i still have mild tingling (1% may be) but if i rest thats gone. I am still overusing my body!! sleeping for 4-5hours a day only and rest time on feet or sitting. I am still in touch with my surgeon and he is very happy with my recovery and he said i am free for anything except for heavy weight training and still keep on doing strecthing and core muscle building exercises 1.5hour a day. I am still getting paranoid sometimes and you explained to me wonderfully. Thanks a lot for time and patience to explain. Hope you recover well and keep us posted!

  139. Hi, Sorry for the delayed replies. Re my accupuncture my physio does it. I have some around the place of my discectomy and down the leg I have sciatica in. I have found it really brilliant and have had it every 4-5 weeks as I do not live near my physio. They recommend a course but I have to say my pain level is very manageable. I have been fasting on a 5:2 diet to and since I slackened that have definitely noticed a negative difference. Back to it!

    I am due to start some one to one pilates classes soon. Has anyone here tried them?

    Also – re- reherniation I just want to say, don’t despair if it happens. It happened to me after sitting on low furniture. I knew it had happened as I had that feeling of having been kicked by a horse follwoed a few days later by bad sciatica and the MRI revealed it to be the case. It has been up and down but I think I have maanged to control it myself this time without surgery. I am saying this as I thought the first surgery was marvellous but want to make the point that the flare ups can be different and different times and respond to differently at different times. First time around anti-inflammatories did nothing for me, second time around they made a big difference. Same for nerve root block. I have also learnt some very boring but important things re the type of shoes I wear – I am very flat footed so I need a bit of a heel but not too much of one.

    Wishing you all well – easy to say but hang on in there, things can get better after surgery (or without) and almost everyone seems to have a panic when they feel a little leg pain return which seems quite standard. Thanks to Rick for setting up this blog.

  140. This website and the stories contained on it are helping. It’s four am and I am about 16 hours post L4/L5 microdiscectomy. Haven’t been allowee to leave the bed yet. Back has a dull ache around injection site and my right leg feels weak. That said, it does feel as though something positive has been done. When I point my toes towards my head it doesn’t aggravate the nerve. Pain has varied from 3-8/10. On IV paracetamol. Have had four x 5-mL vials of oral morphine. One x ibuprofen 400 mg. Surgeon happy physio in morning. Drinking plenty of water and have passed about 3L urine! Fair play on your recovery. I think everyone has a different story and we should all listen to our own respective bodies. But these sites do help. Looking forward to a pint of Guinness tomorrow nite if allowed!

  141. Hey All,
    I’m entering my third week post-op after having surgery for a sever buldge between L5-S1. The first few days after surgery were terrible although initially I had no pain other than surgical site. By day 5 it was back in my left leg, right buttock and the numbness had increased ten fold in my right toes. Luckily, within a few days it subsided.
    I do walk alot, possibly too much because at the end of the the day I have dull pain radiating down the left leg. The numbness and tingling come and go and may linger for sometime according to my doc.
    I desperate to get out and run as I’ve been suffering for well over a year and been off from work since April. Being a police officer the inactivity is driving me bananas… (I watched two seasons of Scandal in 9 days lol).
    At any rate, I’m making great progress, doc was shocked to see I was standing upright after bending forward for almost 9 months, inscision has healed and I’ve been given the green light to swim..I live on an island. .Although I’m between minds with y je ocean. I had two surgeons, a specialist from NE Orthopaedic & Spine Surgery said no beach or hot tubs for 6 weeks due to the possibility of infection if the incision wrinkles and opens. My local Orthopaedic doc said I could do all of them. I’m thinking I’ll heed the advice of the specialist that was flown in?
    Speedy recovery all!!

  142. Hello,
    Is there anyone on this site in Colorado that could recommend a goofd orthopedic spine surgeon? I have a pretty severe herniated disc L5/s1. I had had flare ups for the last 2 years. I had an MRI that confirms that herniation. The past 2 months I have had terrible sciatic pain down the right leg. I’ve been in physical therapy and had a steroid injection. Nothing is helping. My lower back feels pinched, plus the pain down the right leg into the calf. I am scheduled to see a Dr. John Barker in a few weeks at Sky Ridge and I am not sure how well known or if there is a better spine surgeon that someone can recommend.

  143. Hi everyone, I had a l5/s1 microdisectomy 12 weeks ago. I was ok after the operation leg pain had gone and had pain and stiffness around the incision site.
    8 days later as I got out of bed to go to the toilet, I suddenly experienced a jolt of pain in my left leg which gradually got worse and I was in agony. An emergency trip to my surgeon and an MRI confirmed I had a reherniation. I took tramadol and lyrica for six weeks with no improvement, so I eventually had a nerve block injection and thank god it worked after 9 days. I hadn’t been able to do any walking after my operation until after the nerve block worked. I started walking and then my back pain came back with a vengeance, a constant burning ache and I feel so stiff, has anyone else experienced this ? I wonder what is causing
    the pain, my doctor thinks it caused by inflammed scar tissue. Anyone else experience a flare up of back pain starting week nine after op?

    1. Oh Daisy, so sorry to hear of your problems. I think most people have had flare ups. I’ve had several flare ups since my operation, a couple that I thought I might’ve reherniated, but within 2-4 weeks, they got better. If you have an actual reherniation though, it’s probably not just a “flare up,” unfortunately. Obviously, your doctor would know best, but it might not hurt to get a second opinion. If it is inflammation, it should respond to an anti-inflammatory. My flare-ups would always improve with Arthrotec, and like Rick, they’ve all but gone now at 9-10 months out from surgery. I found exercise has helped the most in alleviating symptoms, probably from increasing my core strength and stretching out.

      I think alot of my leftover pain is actually residual fear, haha! Obviously, this isn’t the case for you, since you’ve actually reherniated, but I had an MRI about a month ago for pain on my “good” side, and it came back fine. Once they told me I was fine, the pain down my good side went away. I’ve been using Dr. Sarno’s advice, and it’s been really helping me. I would have never bought into it before though, so I realize it’s not for everyone, but thought I might share this information with others here, just in case someday someone need it.

      1. Thanks for your reply Mindy and glad to hear you have made such a good recovery. This website is fantastic to hear about everyone’s experiences during their recovery. I’m getting a steroid epidural in two weeks can’t wait because I can’t manage without taking lyrica, tramadol and difene, the pain becomes unbearable. I absolutely hate taking painkillers but I have no choice, pain wears you down and makes you have zero energy. The pain in my back is different to before I had the surgery, it’s like a severe ache in my spine and an intense burning pain in my lower back? I didn’t have a burning pain in my back until nine
        weeks after the surgery. The reherniation I had was a fragment and when I reherniated 8 days after the microdisectomy my back pain was mild in comparasion to the leg pain. Luckily the leg pain settled with a nerve root block
        Injection six weeks later. I was doing great until about the 9 th week after surgery, I had started walking for the first time in months one week prior to that when I suddenly developed agonising burning and aching in the area of where I had the surgery and lower back. I tried arcoxia 120 mg but wasn’t able to tolerate it, I felt really nauseous after taking it. So my doctor put me back on lyrica, tramadol and difene which I had been taking for the leg pain after I reherniated. I’m just wondering has anyone else experienced a worsening of back pain after the microdisectomy around the 9 th week with a burning, aching sensation?

  144. Hello I am 10 days post op from a L5-S1 microdisectomy. My leg pain was gone immediatly fater surgery. I am noticing some back pain, which is probobly from the incision. I am also noticing some right hip, flank pain. I am trying not to over do things. I have 3 kids in the house and I have done some light house work. I am scared to death of reherniating. I am walking 30 to 45 minutes a day, and it feels great to walk with no leg pain. I can’t wait to get these staples out, they are really driving me crazy.

    1. all sounds perfectly normal,keep up that walking. easy on the housework,maybe the kids can step in more. i’m 2 years post op. it just gets better. keeping any extra weight off is the key for me. versaclimber and paddleboard are great for people that have had this procedure…..when you get better..

  145. Very successful Surgery on herniated L5 on 4/15/2013. Before surgery I had so much pressure on sciatic nerve that I would lose control of legs and would fall without warning.. Tried everything prescribed by doctor (massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation) and surgery was my last and only option. Researching the surgery scared me out of my wit with all the negativity. I came upon this blog and stopped the negative mental torture. I just want to say “Thank you” to all of you for sharing your stories and your positive attitudes that helped me tremendously. My recovery was a bit tough, but, keeping a positive attitude makes all the difference. Rick, starting this blog was a blessing for me. Thanks again! jake

  146. I’m scheduled to have an L5/S1 microdiscectomy surgery on 8/15/13 and I’m extremely nervous. I’ve have two opinions one from a neurosurgeon and one from an orthopedic surgeon. Both suggested surgery due to the size of my disc and possible permanent nerve damage. I having issues coming to terms with needing surgery because I can live my daily life without pain meds. I have minimal pain in my leg it’s mostly just tingles and muscle is sore once in a while. I do have pain in my butt along with the leg pain but I’m curious as to what drove the decision to have surgery for everyone that’s decided to move forward? Is it wise to have surgery when I have minimal pain? I’d like to fix the problem and not band-aid it.
    This site was a huge boost because I’ve read nothing but horror stories on other sites.

    1. I should also add I’ve had this issue for about a year now and it hasn’t changed much. It’s actually gotten a little better over time but they are still recommending surgery. I did try some PT and it seem to make things a little worse. I haven’t tried an injection because I feel it’s a band-aid solution that will bring temporary relief.

    2. Hey there Michael – it’s Rick. I created this blog and shared my experiences here because like you, all I could find online were the negative stories. My biggest fear, and the real deciding factor in moving ahead with the surgery (I was 37 years old at the time) was the potential for permanent nerve damage. I’d say everyone’s decision is very personal and you’ll really have to ultimately decide for yourself. If you can live with the pain, then fine, but personally, this was the best decision I made to manage my own situation. I think a few other people who have commented on this site have echoed my sentiment. The benefits far outweigh the risks in my opinion. Good luck in your decision, and let us know how things go if you do decide to move forward with the surgery. – Rick

      1. Thanks for the reply Rick. I’m driving my wife and family nuts with this process and they are all wanting me to do it now before it gets to the point that I can’t walk. I’m having a hard time with the decision because I can function with minimal pain it’s more of a tingling sensation. I haven’t needed any drugs since this first started and I did get lazy with my exercises after I heard I needed surgery for the first time. I’m trying to be 100% positive about the outcome of the surgery. My biggest fear is something going wrong and ending up on pain meds the rest of my life. I’m not on them now so it would really suck to require them after a surgery that is intended to help me.
        Thanks again,

    3. Hi Michael, I had surgery in May last year due to severe pain – in the end I couldn’t walk without crutches so I had surgery. Best surgeon by all accounts, conservative, “world renowned” etc etc. It went very well but about 4 months later the pain returned. I have fallen into the 10-15% failure cases. I’ve had two extreme, debilitating flare-ups, but my sciatic condition is now under control with LYRICA – a nerve drug. It doesn’t work for everyone but I have had amazing results with no adverse side effects. I’m trying to wean myself off it now (have been taking it for 10 months). I am starting to feel sensation down my sciatic nerve and am extremely nervous about another flare-up. But .. can’t stay on the drugs forever. My surgeon advises a second op if there’s another extreme flare-up. I know most people have good results with surgery – and as a healthy, fit and active person I was a good candidate. But I think with back problems more there’s a lot still unknown. Good luck with your decision making.

      1. Thanks for the reply and I hope you feel better. How long did you wait to have surgery? Did your symptoms get worse over time or did they start as bad as they were?

      2. My symptoms started in Jan ’12. Advice was to keep moving, which I did. Stopped running, started walking – about an hour to and from work every day. But symptoms got steadily worse until May ’12. The first post-op warning symptom was in August ’12 of discomfort in the groin (this is what sent me to the doc in the first place in Jan last year) followed by sensation/discomfort in the sciatic nerve follwed fairly rapidly (maybe two weeks later) by shooting, extreme pain. This flare up was managed by cortisone injection + Lyrica. In Jan ’13 I started easing off Lyrica and had another extremely painful flare up in Mar ’13. Had another cortisone injection and increased lyrica. I am easing off lyrica again now and those sciatic/groin “sensations” have returned but I have thus far kept the pain at bay.

      3. im only 23 and going for this surgery in a week . no injections tried .. im nervous but tired of being in bed .. only been 2 weeks !

      4. Hey everyone. I decided to have the surgery done today with a highly reputable neurosurgeon that does these 1-3 times a week. He has a high success rate and seemed confident that he can fix me so I asked myself two questions. Why suffer anymore if I have a chance to be healed? And why risk the permanent damage? I was in at 9am and out by 3pm.

        I did let this go for over a year (Possibly two years) and my disc was calcified a bit sitting right on my nerve. I didn’t have a major pain at the time of the herniation so I’ll never know how or when it was caused. My leg pain started in september of 2012 but the doc believes the herniation happened prior and just got worse over time. I was also not in terrible pain through the 1-2 years so it was never a rush for me to get this done.

        I never tried any injections because I didn’t want to just mask the pain, I wanted to fix the issue. I did a round of PT in November prior to my MRI that showed how large my herniation was. I was told by two surgeons that it was too large for my body to heal on its own even with PT.

        This was my first surgery that I’ve ever had so I was freaked out. I have two kids and a wife that make it difficult to make that leap of faith to take possible life threatening risks, although very small you never know especially being my first time under the knife.

        Once the meds started flowing I was fearless and cracking jokes. 🙂

        I’m feeling pretty good at the moment and the majority of my leg pain is gone. I’m guessing I’ll have a bit of time to get back to 100% due to my procrastination to getting the surgery. My back by the incision site and my left butt cheek are a bit sore.

        I want everyone to know that I had a rough time making this decision to have the surgery done. My mind was a mess and I couldn’t focus on anything else. Talking with people helped a ton! I know a few people that went through the procedure and they had great results such as Rick. One of them did this 30 years ago and hasn’t had an issue since so I was encouraged.

        Don’t let the negativity of the Internet get to you and keep a positive mind as that will help with recovery. Ask try to have a good support team. You’d be surprised how family, friends, co-workers and even neighbors are willing to help.

        The doctors office that I went through had 3 nurses that had the procedure done at some point in their life and they were doing fine. I think seeing someone that’s been through it and doing good is what helped make the final decision to move forward.

        Kat- I wish you the best of luck in finding relief. I hope the pain goes away over time and you can live a med free life. Stay positive and keep moving forward!

        Rick- your story definitely helped my decision. Thanks for posting and helping many others see the positive side of life after this procedure. Walking the Great Wall has been a dream of mine and seeing you there after the surgery was a major motivator.

        Remember I’m not a doctor and any advice I’ve given is based on personal experience not medical facts. Please consult your doctor if you have questions and find a new one if they don’t have answers!

        Back to my drug induced sleep!

  147. Brandon-
    Best of luck to you. Make sure you’re 100% comfortable with your decision and find a doctor willing to listen and has lots experience with the procedure you need (if that’s an option for you). Just a tip since you’re young and may find the admin side of the medical world a bit difficult to deal with. One of the hardest parts was getting all the referrals in place for my procedure since the surgeon was out of my network. I’m on an HMO so everything had to be done through my primary care office. I lucked out and was able to use the neurosurgeon I wanted because my medical group doesn’t have one.
    Be sure to stay in control of your health and annoy the doctors if you need to. I have the phone tree of my office memorized and know all of the nurses. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get copies of all paperwork. Take notes on your daily pain levels and log who you spoke to about what. It may prove helpful in the long run.
    The surgery was the easy part the decision making part was the tough one for me. Once again good luck!

    1. thank you for the info .. i havent tryed injections im afraid that wont help. is just a cover up . i originally have been seeing a orthopedic doctor . was diagnosed with a herniated disc jan 2013 .. dealt with the stiffness tryed physical therapy. i was released two times because i wasnt having pain down legs. well here it is aug few weeks before my 23rd birthday . i have been inbed for going on 2 weeks . got a 2nd mri done and couldnt get in orthopedic doctor until next tues (so been laid up all week ) i know its only been this long but i know i cant live being like this .. a neuroseurgon from my local hospital seen the mri and recomends surgery right off the get go . im nervous . he set it up for next thursday . im gonna see ortho tuesday .. ahhhhhh this sucks .

  148. At 15 months post op, I’m experiencing pain again. My hips have been giving me the most trouble to start. Anytime I sit for more than 20 minutes, I have a hard time getting up. Now, I am beginning to feel nerve pain from inside my pelvis to the front of my thigh. X-Ray today to see if hip probs are bursitis or arthritis. Then back to the neurosurgeon for another consult, and perhaps another MRI. I’m sure that I overdid something along the way. I haven’t been able to work out and I’ve put on 15 pounds which is not helping. Anyone experience anything similar after a year or more post op?

    1. Yes experiencing the exact same things including the weight gain LOL. Had an another MRI a few months back and it is not anything with the discs. I am assuming it is arthritis or bursitis also. Once I am up walking for a few minutes it does subside but my numbness and tenderness in my calf is just nerve damage and since I am 11 months post-op, it will most likely be permanent. Let us know what the doctors tell you.

      1. Still have tenderness in my calf as well. In fact, almost every night, I wake up with a cramp in my muscle. I also think the nerve damage is permanent – and that’s unfortunate. It does get better with time, and it becomes something you almost don’t even notice sometimes because it’s always there. Good luck to you – keep moving!!

  149. I am 2years post op, and i had some pain sometime back. That pain was too much that i took 2-3 days leave from office and rested 2 days over weeekend. So all in all i spent 4-5 days on bed. But after that rest it again started to become OK. and I have put lot of weight after OP(close to 25Pounds). Met my surgeon last week, he told to reduce weight and stay away from any kind of abs e xercices.

    1. Steve, what kind of exercises are you doing now? It is important to keep your core strong when you have back issues. You don’t have to do sit ups or crunches – there are so many movements you can do without strain to strengthen your muscles. Walking also helps to keep your low back muscles strong. Hope you’re feeling ok!

      1. Don’t know name for them… My doctor told me two exercises
        1)Lie on your back and lift your legs till 90 degree one by one. Do this for 15min 2 times daily (morn/eve)
        2)Lie on your stomach and keep your hands behind back tied to each other and lift your head and chest little up with taking break after every 3-4 mins. . 2 times (30min morn/30 even)..
        But now i am becomin fat.. so want to do some exercises for tummy.. don’t know what all would be safe…

      2. Steve, you can also try doing a plank position and holding it. That is great for you core and actually also works almost every muscle in your body. You can start by holding for 15 seconds and then increasing gradually. You can check out youtube for some great how-to videos. As far as taking off the excess weight – as I said before, walking is great and low impact. And diet is a big issue – when you’re not as active as you’re used to – you have to watch what you consume! I’m having the same problem and it’s frustrating.

  150. Okay sheri 🙂 Ill try that also and see if it helps.. also about being active Other than gym im completely active (from morning 8 till night 11) I am doing everything (running if i’m late to office,stairs to my desk and down ..around 20-30 floors up down daily) seems I have to just cut on diet 🙂

    1. Haha…me too, Steve. Running from morning till night and I still keep getting fatter lol 🙂 Let me know how you make out.

  151. I had discectomy surgery on my L4 L5 level on September 4, 2013. I’m almost 3 weeks into recovery. A little history. I am 48 yr old female.About five years ago I started experiencing pain upon standing or walking like at a concert or grocery shopping or standing to make dinner. I would get really bad sciatica pain in my right hip and then over the years i started having tingling in my right foot. i gott a steroid injection last April After trying several different things mostly chiropractic .the pain got better but the same week I got that injection I was starting to have sciatica on my left side. Buy June the sciatica pain on my left side was excruciating hip pain, pain in my but and behind my the knee and tingling in the foot. I lost alot of muscle strength and reflexes in my ankle. I tried chiropractic and lots of physical therapy, another steroid injection and pain meds but nothing helped. Had the MRI and a Myelogram and a CT scan which showed a very large rupture of the L4 L5 level towards the right side. I was confused as to why i was having pain on the left side. Surgeon said it was because the rupture was so big it was pushing my spinal column to the left causing the left nerve root to be impinged. Immediately after surgery ( a discectomy only)I had much less pain on the left side but I had excruciating pain on the right hip. I had to have a toroidal shot for the pain. My surgeon told me not to do anything just a little bit of walking around the house personal things like taking a shower going to the bathroom, No walking and no ice this confused me. Over the last couple weeks the pain is getting worse on the right side, not better and I am now having full-blown sciatica pain on the right side like I used to have on the left side. Have some pain on the left side but mostly just some pain in my thigh but it’s better but I’m really depressed about the pain I’m having on the right side. I feel like I traded pain on one side for the other side. I start having pain the minute I stand up and after a couple minutes or from taking a shower i start having excruciating pain and I can’t do anything. I can sit for about 10 minutes. the only thing that makes it feel better is after laydown for a while. I called the doctors office a couple of times to let them know and they keep telling me I’m doing too much but I’m not doing a damn thing other than laying around and I told them that. They said I have to quit using my stairs, they think that’s why I’m in pain. I do have stairs go up and down them a couple times a day but the pain starts just from standing up it doesn’t get worse from the stairs. Before surgery i was told i should be feeling really good at two weeks I go back to the doctors on October 2 and hope I get some more information. Before surgery he said I wouldn’t be doing hardly anything during recovery because it’s too easy to get hurt again. I constantly read on the internet and blogs like this about how I should be walking. At this point I can walk for a couple minutes. In my mind I feel like I ruptured a disc again or there’s a fragment left. Thanks for listening.

    1. Hi Sue, sorry to hear that you are still in so much pain. Did you go for an EMG prior to surgery? From what I understand from pain management doctors, it should be done prior to assess what nerves are really affected. I was scheduled for one before my surgery, but my situation (like most here) was bad and I had to go in for the operation right away and never made it to the test. I’m 16 months post op with nerve damage, continuing therapy and seeking pain management. It’s possible that there was more going on in your spine that just wasn’t assessed. Continue to take it easy, listen to your body, that is most important! If your surgeon does not follow up with what you are telling him/her please seek another opinion. Perhaps with a neurologist? Did you have an orthopedic or neurosurgeon that worked on you? In the mean time, patience is key. Nerves take longer to heal. I wish you all the best and hope that you see some relief very soon.

      1. Hi Sheri
        Yes I had an EMG prior. I have been seeing a physiatrist prior to surgery who did the EMG. And my surgeon is a neurosurgeon. Highly recommended from several people and other doctors. My first MRI showed stenosis too but the neurosurgeon felt the MRI wasnt real clear so he had me do the Mylogram and CT scan which show the large herniated disk, but no mention of stenosis.I was trying to quit or at least reduce the pain meds but I do better with them so I’m back on them till I meet with the neurologist again. I do try to remind myself that I was having right sided pain for 5 years and its not going to be better in 2 weeks, I just really expected o be able to walk for more than a few minutes without pain and I can tell my poor hubby is wearing out. He’s been doing everything since June and has a shoulder that needs surgery too. I’m really ready to go back to work and not be disabled! My surgeon is great and very attentive, I just am tired, I don’t sleep well and need to keep taking the meds. Thanks for your post. I hope you feel better soon too!

      2. I just wanted to say that it took me 9 months to stop popping pain pills occasionally after surgery. 12 months to feel almost as good as new. So don’t get down yet! My nerve was only crushed for 6 months, so if it was crushed for 5 years, it will definitely take some time to heal. There probably is some degree of nerve damage due to the time it was crushed.

        I’m wondering if maybe you’re feeling the steroid from surgery wear off now? Mine wore off the day after, but it seems like it takes a couple weeks for most people.

  152. I’m glad I found this blog Rick, thank you. 🙂 I have several herniated discs, and currently take pain meds to alleviate the pain. I have an appointment to give my final decision on whether I am going with this microdiscectomy surgery. Reading this feedback sure did help. I think I am going to do it, and hopefully I will have the positive results that most of you are reporting.. Wish me luck.. Any other suggestions anyone can think of are certainly welcomed!

    1. Hello everyone, this blog has been so incredibly helpful and reassuring. I had to get an emergency l5/s1 microdiscectomy on September 25 because I ended up with cauda equina syndrome and lost some bladder function. Today is exactly 2 weeks post op. I had a little flare up 4 days after surgery but then started feeling great on days 9-12. then yesterday morning I sneezed twice while lying in bed. I didn’t feel any pain with the first sneeze but the second one I had a sharp pain right at incision site in my back and immediately started thinking the worse… reherniation? Since yesterday my back has been more sore and i have pins and needles feelings in my legs, which I haven’t felt since before surgery. I am very worried about a reherniation but trying to give it a few days before calling my surgeon. I am taking pain meds less frequently so I assume it may be that, or that the steroids from surgery are wearing off. I’ve read many post op microdiscectomy stories that pain and sciatica increased about two weeks and am praying I did not reherniate. My surgeon says my back is still not good, although the herniation was removed, i still have many bone spurs and spinal stenosis from some of the spurs and degenerative discs at l4/l5 and l5/s1. I am 27 years old. Has anyone had a similar experience with feeling pain in the low back after sneezing? I’m trying my best to remain positive but it is difficult at times! Thank you so much to everyone for sharing your stories. They are so wonderful to read, especially at 4am when anxiety gets the best of me :).

      1. Hi KT
        Sneezing was a problrm for me too. On,y I feel it in my left hip. I sneezed the other day and realized it was the first time it did not make my hip hurt ( I would feel it in mr left buttock/hip). I am a little over a month post op now. My doc and the research I did says its normal to have nerve pain/sciatica symptoms after surgery for awhile. Just depends on the nerve damage that happened. I’m still no better than my previous posts but the doc thinks I will improve after I get some PT which I start soon! Wishing you the best!

      2. Folks – I am one year post-op and feeling a lot better!! Mine was an emergency surgery too but I can tell you that it takes time and it needs a lot of patience! Every month is new and will be different but it will all come in place. 1 month is too soon and it’s very normal to experience these sharp pains n discomforts. Please keep that walking regular even if its a few steps every time. It heals faster when you’re young however, backs take somewhat longer than any other injury. Don’t be hard on yourself just keep going day by day.

        Feel better!

      3. Sue and rashiars, thank you for the reply and glad to hear you’re recovering well! The pins and needles in my legs have lessened a little today but my low back started hurting pretty bad today, especially while in a standing / walking position. I really haven’t had much back pain since surgery until today and also hope this is a normal part of the recovery process. It’s pretty painful getting into a standing position from sitting or lying down and feels difficult and painful to try to straighten my back to stand up right. I know many people have discussed their leg symptoms after surgery but don’t recall much regarding back pain. Have others felt this pain post of as well? I am 15 days post op. Thank you!

        Rashiars – so very happy to hear how well you are doing!

      4. Hi KT,
        I get back pain too. It’s mostly really hip pain. It starts near my tail bone and works ut way out to mt hip. Sometimes I feel twinges of pain in my lower and mid back. I think its different for everyone and depends on what you had done. I went for my first PT evaluation. It’s more Pilates based. The lady said my muscles in my lower back are really hard and I’m stiff. Probably because I have been guarding that area for so long and not being able to do anything. She gave me some very gentle movements to do and teaching mr how to re-engage all those muscles and my core. I’ve been doing these at home the last couple days and I’m seeing a little improvement. For one it feels so good to stretch! I was so afraid to do that since my surgery my body was craving it. You are only 2weeks out so I would expect your back will still hurt at that point. Mine did. The hardest part for me is being patient and not being able to stand and walk without pain yet. We have to be positive:). Hope you feel better soon!

  153. Hi all, I will be short and sweet, I am 25 years old and pretty fit and healthy. I injured my back in March 2012 doing squats in the gym I remember doing it so well and wish I could turn back time every morning I wake up with this horrible pain!! After trying a huge variety of non surgical treatments for my sciatica and following being diagnosed with a small disc bulge l5s1 I decided yo have a microdiscectomy 4 weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn’t wake up pain free and I would say I had worst sciatica than pre surgery for the first 2 weeks. Although I am now probably where I was before surgery maybe slightly better I am still unable to straighten my leg or sit for me than 10 / 20 mins without excruciating pain! I am very stiff in my back and in my hamstrings I have been told not to stretch until the 6 week mark but feel I might not listen to that advice as some people say that after this sort of procedure they have a lot of relief after some light physio and stretching. I would really like to hear how people who have experienced similar symptoms and post surgery experiences as me to let me know what has helped them and possible reasons to why I still can’t straighten my blessid leg!!! I wish everyone on here the best of luck with their own personal recovery i am sure we all have to be patient and let nature take its cause!

    1. I’m. 23 and had a microdisectomy aug 21.. I still feel as if my nerve is pinched.. but doctor says its bruised. Can take 6 to 12 months gto heal.. my flexibility is still very bad

      1. Hi Jeremy, I am a few days shy of 3 weeks post op emergency l5/s1 microdiscectomy. I started aquatic physical therapy exactly at week two, per my neurosurgeon. I do very gentle stretches in the water and the physical therapist has also given me very gentle stretches to do on land. The stretches allow my back to remain straight at all times. My therapy is tailored to my recovery and circumstances and may be different for you. You should discuss with your md whether/when you can start some therapy. The stretches have been really helping my legs, although my back remains very sore and tight. I notice a huge improvement in back pain when I get out of the pool after therapy and for the remainder of the day. I still have twinges of sciatica and other bizarre nerve related feelings in both legs, although it is much better than pre-surgery, where I could not even walk and lost control of my bladder. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery! It seems this healing process is very unique and everyone heals at a different rate, keep your head up!

      2. Hi Jeremy. If you haven’t already go read my first post 🙂 from Sept 23.
        I was a lot like you. And that was 3weeks after my surgery. I’m doing a lot better now at 6 weeks after surgery. I saw my surgeon for follow up on Oct 2nd and and he assured me I was right where he expected me to be at a month and told me when I start PT I would start to feel better. I was just like you-I couldn’t straighten my legs. Tons of sciatica pain etc. I was frustrated that he told me no PT for 4-6 weeks and I kept thinking if I could only do some PT. Maybe I would feel better but I followed my surgeons “rule” because I was afraid I would hurt myself if I didn’t. Well I’m at week 6 and I’m just now finally feeling better. I did PT class last week at a Pilates center that has a PT person who works with people in my situation. I’ve been doing what she told me to do every day twice a day. It really isn’t a lot and at first I thought “this isn’t enough to do anything”. I did some light stretching and some inner core work. Until she gets my surgeons approval to do what she recommends that is all I’m doing as it’s not the exact things he wrote down. He was very basic in his list ( massage, hydrotherapy, etc. I decided to use this Pilates place instead of a regular PT place based on recommendations from another person who had back surgery and is doing wonderful and from doing the evaluation session there). The other thing I am doing is I started taking vitamins B6, B12, Magnesium and Krill oil go mega 3) and Vitamin C and D and also drinking MSM in a glass of water). I’ve read these help heal nerves. So weather it’s the stretching and core work or the vitamins or both I have noticed a big improvement, plus a few more weeks under my belt I’m sure helps. I used to only be able to stand and walk for about 5 minutes and I would start having excruciating pain and have to lay down. I was getting very depressed and feeling bad to say the least. I’m now only taking an occasional norco for pain. Guess what I did today??? I went grocery shopping!!! I walked for 1/2 an hour (careful and slow and made the bagger keep the bags very light). And no pain, a little sore and of course a little tired but also I think I’m just so used to not doing anything it’s going to take some time to get used to any physical activity again. So please be patient with yourself. I know where you are at. I believe we are way to hard on ourselves and not very good patients. It’s also hard to read about how great others are doing in such a short time. For me this has been the most difficult thing I have ever been through. I’m used to getting it all done and more on not depending on others and I hate having a messy house and of course no one does as good a job as me at taking care of it LOL. I have learned to accept it’s going to take time, it’s good to let others help me for a change and there are gong to be some things I can’t do for awhile and some things maybe never but I am walking again! And I’m not laying in bed crying in pain every day just occasionally and much less now 🙂 and also I have been told by many that back surgery is major surgery (even when it’s called micro) and it can take a year to fully recover. So try to remember its one day at a time, every person and surgery is unique, follow doctors orders and stay positive. Pain and sciatica symptoms will come and go for awhile. Once you are allowed to start PT I think you will start feeling better but don’t rush it if your doctor says you have to wait. Peace and love and rest. You Will Get better!

  154. I’m 18 months post op and still having nerve issues with my leg. I’m going for my first EMG this afternoon. I know what the test involves, but I wanted to know/hear of anyone else’s personal experience with it? Thanks.

  155. Hi Sheri,
    First of all forgive my sloppy spelling. When I post I an laying on the couch holding my iPad in one hand and typing with the other and obviously I’m not spell checking LOL. I’m really a good speller, just a bad one handed typist 🙂
    I had my EMG prior yo my surgery. Some of it was a piece a cake and part of it was very painful. You feel little tiny pinpricks on your feet and legs when they do that part and you feel muscle spasms when they do that part the painful part for me was when they poked into my lower back to me it was very very painful on that part. But lower back part was over quickly and it helps if you breathing and arch your back a little, at least that’s what my doctor had me do and it did help. The whole thing took about 30 minutes, and the doctor was able to give me my results right then and there. I’m still having some nerve pain too but I definitely feel a little better after my surgery, some days are better than others. I think the Pilates place I’m going to for physical therapy is helping their very gentle on me making sure we don’t irritate any nerves. I’ve been doing one-on-one training/physical therapy and I might get to graduate to the rehab class next week which is a group of 2 to 10 people in the same position I am. keep your fingers crossed. Wishing you an excellent pain-free day!

    1. Thanks for the info Sue! The test wasn’t horrible – just a little uncomfortable. I didn’t get results right away, I have to wait a week or two. Basically he told me what I already know, that there is an issue with my S1 nerve root. I’m still doing PT but I think I need to graduate to doing Pilates again and incorporate some yoga. Wish you the best with your therapy!!

      1. Hi everyone, it’s nearly seven months since my Microdisectomy, and while I feel some improvement with my back pain my leg pain has been been extremely disabling since the surgery. I have had two epidural steroid injections and two steroid nerve root injections. I take tramadol and lyrica on a daily basis. I have had a recent MRI which shows no further re herniation of my L5/S1 disc, but scar tissue around the S1 nerve. I have constant nerve pain in my buttock, thigh, outside of my calf and top of ankle. My question is I had nerve conduction studies last week and before this my consultant presumed is was the scarring around my S1 nerve causing the pain combined with my lack of ankle reflex. However, the results show my L4 nerve is damaged, my question is how is that possible when I haven’t had a disc herniation at that level and my surgery was a L5/S1 herniation? Wishing everyone well with their recovery of such a painful injury

      2. I was just wondering has anyone had a spinal cord stimulater. I’ve been to the pain specialist who has diagnosed me with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. After having so much pain before and since my Microdisectomy, having tried nerve blocks and epidural injections to no avail, I am terrified of having more surgery.
        I feel my life is at a standstill at the moment, everyday is spent on painkillers at home, I can no longer work as a carer for disabled children. I am married to a wonderful man who is very patient, I long to have a child but am also afraid pregnancy will make the pain unbearable and if I’m pregnant I will not be able to take tramadol and lyrica. I have been told getting a spinal cord stimulater is my best option of a normal life but I’m terrified! I’m sorry to sound negative, I think Rick is amazing and happy for him that his surgery was successful. Unfortunately, I have fallen into the one in a hundred that surgery does not help.

      3. Hi Daisy,
        I had L4-5 discectomy on Sept. 4th. I still have a lot of but/hip, thigh pain with occasional calf and ankle pain and tingling still. I have not been able to quit the pain meds either. I have started PT and sometimes I think it helps but most of the time I am in pain after I do it. I can’t seem to do much of anything still without causing irritation of the nerves which sets me back. I still cant stand or walk for more than 10 minutes or so. On rare occasions I have been able to do a short shopping trip but that’s if I take good pain meds and don’t do anything before that. I too am disappointed in the results of my surgery, although it is better than before but not anywhere close to what I expected. I’m going to be requesting a new MRI to see if there is something else going on. I have the same symptoms as before surgery, just a little bit less pain. I’m hoping it’s not scar tissue-not sure how to fix that…have you talked to your doctor about the results of your EMG regarding the L4 nerve damage? I’m so sorry you are still in so much pain. I don’t know much about the spinal cord stimulator except what I saw in the TV show the The Doctors. Worked great for the lady on the show. Wishing you well.

    2. Hi SUEV, thank you for your reply. Wishing you well also with your recovery.
      It is a shock really how painful it is after the surgery, I really thought my leg and back pain would have been much better. It’s nearly seven months since I’ve had the surgery, I’m still restricted in everyday activities such as bending and lifting. Walking really flares up my leg pain. I’m going back to the Neurosurgeon next week to get my nerve conduction studies results, a neurologist did the test but wouldn’t give me much information apart from there is damage to my L4 nerve, which I was surprised about as everyone thought it was my S1 nerve and I has the surgery on my L5/S1 disc. How is this possible? As a newly married woman, I dream of getting pregnant and having a baby, in my heart I know this is not a wise discision at the moment. My pain consultant has diagnosed Failed Back Surgery Syndrome but I am terrified of having more surgery and getting a spinal cord stimulater in case I’m in more pain that I’m in now. I’m sorry to hear you are also disappointed with the results of the surgery. I hope we both make a speedy recovery soon. I think it is a very good idea that you get another MRI. I wonder is there anyone out there that recovered fully for a Microdisectomy that took an exceptionally long time?

  156. Hello everyone, I am now almost 6 weeks post op l5/s1 microdiscectomy and went back to my job this Monday. Today’s my second day back to work and my back is sore! I take turns between sitting, standing and walking around. Mostly standing and walking though. I still have not bent or twisted at the waist since surgery, but i use my knees to kind of squat a little. My question for you guys is, how did you feel on your return back to work? I can only work around 6-7 hours and then my back is just too sore and the leg symptoms start to increase a little. Does this sound similar to anyone else’s experience? I immediately go home, ice and lay down for the rest of the evening and by morning the leg and back pain has improved a little but still more sore than before I started work. Thanks everyone! I hope everyone is doing well in their recovery!

    1. Hi KT,
      I’ve been lucky enough not to have to go back to work yet. I have been off since July do to the sever pain, had surgery Sept 4th. Im now at 2 months post op. There is no way i could have gone back to work these last two months as my pain was still so bad i couldn’t hardly stand up and walk or sit for more than 10 minutes without getting terrible sciatica pain in my hips and thighs. I feel i am just now getting better. When i do things around the house i get the same pain you describe. Im looking forward to getting back to work but i am worried about how i will feel after working all day. I go back in Dec 6th, thankfully a Friday then off for the weekend. I have the luxury of being able to rotate between sitting and walking but I’m so used to resting (laying down ) most of the day. Maybe my doctor and require i get a couch in my office 🙂 at least i can come home for lunch and squeeze in a short rest on the couch at home. I think what you are feeling is normal. You are only at 6 weeks! Im at 8 and cant fathom working yet.

      1. Hi sue, thanks for getting back to me! I am so happy to hear you are finally starting to feel better. It seems everyone’s post op course is very unique and people are all over the board on how fast they begin to improve…. can be so incredibly frustrating. I feel like it’s definitely a roller coaster ride of one step forward, one (or two) steps back. I’ve been tempted to lay on the ground at work but I don’t think my boss would approve and I’m not even sure if I would be able to get up from the ground! I guess I’m being a little hard on myself but I hope I can increase my stamina and not go so sore so quick at work. Best of luck and strength in your recovery 🙂

  157. Quick question, I know I asked about sneezing before but something new started today. I am 6 weeks post op microdiscectomy l5/s1. I coughed once today and it wasn’t a strong cough, but during the cough I felt a sharp pain directly centered in low back. And then a little later I yelled at my dog and got the same quick sharp pain while yelling. so i decided to try to cough again to see if it would recreate the same pain and it did. Has anyone else felt this? I don’t notice any increase in sciatic symptoms but am a little concerned. Thank you!

  158. Hi everyone, I’m one year post op. Def better than I use to be. I thought I’d never get better but I did. So be patient. I still overdue it sometimes and get the pains back again. Does anyone know what causes the inflammation?

  159. ChrisL, you say you feel better after a year. How did you feel at 5 months? My husband is still experiencing nerve pain at 5 months. It is less intense and only to his knee now (before surgery it went to his toes), but he is starting to get frustrated. It seems like people get better right away or by 6 months.

    1. Hi Mrytle, I still have my ups and downs but I’m better in a year than I was few months post op. I would tell your husband to be patient. I def still felt bad at 5 months and had a slower recovery than most. The nerves just needs more time to heal. Have him keep up with his physical therapy exercises and stretches. They will make him feel a lot better. Also ice as often as needed.

    1. I am just a week shy of 3 months post op microdiscectomy and im not feeling too hot either. I was doing really great around month 2 but then I had an increase in leg and back pain and still have daily nerve symptoms including pain, tingling and numbness although it is not as severe as it was pre surgery but it is not mild either. My MD thinks it’s just a flare up and to continue w my therapy. It isn’t getting much worse but I don’t feel like I’m improving well either. I’ve been told to be patient and wait so that is what I’m doing. I also had severe compression on left s1 and moderate compression on right s1 for 12 months. Maybe it’s just to take longer.. I wish your husband the best.

  160. KT, hang in there! My husband went back to the surgeon yesterday and the doc said there is no way he reherniated and he will continue to improve for a year. We asked for more PT, so hopefully it helps. Doesn’t make it hurt less, poor guy!

  161. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
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  162. Thank you for this.

    I am a six year navy veteran who has literally been around the world. Towards the end my back was starting to hurt, but pretty well controlled with meds. My second year in I was diagnose with a mild herniated L4-L5.

    Fast forward. Couple years at a desk job post Navy and I’d gained a few pounds. Was put on high dose NSAID and flexeril prn- instructed to lose the weight.

    I run. I lose twenty pounds fast. Then get kinda stuck. Upped the anty. Half marathons. Can’t tell if I’m sore from working out or backs getting worse- refer to pain management, first steroid injection. OH SWEET JESUS IM HEALED. I run the inaugural Dumbos Double Dare at Disneyland (back to back 10k/13.1 miles). I’m hurting but it’s to be expected. Triple digit summer and treadmill hate means poor training. The week after I run with a friend. Trip over nothing and take my right knee down 7miles in. Walk off the last two for my 9miles goal.

    I wake up the next day in agony. My right hip and glute hurt! Diagnose piriformis syndrome

    It takes a screaming session of a steroid injection followed by a steroid injection gone wrong (Pneumocephlus) to figure out my disc is smashing my spinal cord.
    Narc up! And other various meds such as neurotin and muscle relaxers.

    My neurosurgery is set for the 18th. I so excited to have my life back. I’m either in pain or a doped up zombie.

    I can’t wait to feel better. And yes this is all with the Veterans Affairs so that’s why it takes so long.

  163. Hi Michelle. Sorry about your pain. Hope the surgery helps. I had surgery Sepr 4. 2013. I finally had another MRI to see if we could find a cause for my continued pain. Found out that now another disk-one lower-the L5-S1 disk is bulging and directly compressing the S1 nerve. I can’t believe wonder I still hurt. Really sucks. I had about 2weeks with no pain except for surgery pain when this started. I thought it was pain from surgery but now I know it’s from this new bulging disc. Back on Vicodin that doesn’t really work. Doc suggest surgery again-right, like I’m going to do that again already. It’s only been 5 months. I think I’m going to bite the bullet and pay for spinal decompression therapy from my chiropractor. Hearing a lot of good results about that. Good luck to you. I have several other posts above if you want info on what I had done. Take care.

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  165. Well had the surgery last Monday and the biggest problem has been constipation!! Dont want to strain and re-herniate!! Recommend everyone who has Microdiscectomy take some kind of laxative immediately!! Mine built up for 6 days!!

  166. Hey all! I can’t believe it’s been over two years since my surgery and since I discovered this post. Amazing (and very neat!) that it still gets so much interest. Recently posted a “follow up to back surgery” entry of my own and thought some of you may be interested in learning more. There’s also a link that references collagen and it’s ability to improve bone/joint health (we’ll try ANYTHING when in pain right?). Thanks Rick for creating this and uniting so many people 🙂

  167. Hello everyone! I love this blog and all the positive comments everyone has shared. I would like to share my story, my friends and family are all very aware but it will be nice to get some feedback from people going through the same thing.
    I was in the Peace Corps in Guinea, and lived in a mud hut for two years with no electricity or running water. This meant I had to carry all of my water from a well near by, and unfortunate I did not do as the Africans did and carry it on my head! I did it poorly, and it led to disk degeration. Luckily, I didn’t feel it until after I got home. I had back pain for about 5 months, then it progressed to sciatic pain. I didnt see a doctor at this point because I’m stupid and also I thought it might heal itself. I am 25 years old (was 24 at the time) and I’m strong and fit so I thought I would be fine. About 4 months ago, I moved to South Korea to teach English. My sciatica got worse and worse. I sought out conservative treatments there, acupuncture, yoga, chiro, etc. I came home for my sisters wedding on May 31, and she begged me to get an MRI while I was here. I was only supposed to be here for a weekend, but I extended the trip. Anyways, long story short, the MRI showed a severely herniated disk in L5/S1 region and the pain had gotten so terrible we decided the microdiscectomy was the best option.
    I am 6 days post op. I have been pain free for the first 5, but I pushed it hard yesterday and I have some pain in my right calf and close to my knee. Nothing like before, but still scary. I’ve been walking every hour, and yesterday I did intervals up to 20 minutes. I’ve read this pain is normal and hopefully it’s just some inflammation. I’ve also been trying to come off pain meds (I am on Percocet and I only took 2 yesterday) so that May have something to do with it as well.
    Anyways, this thread has kept me sane for the past few days. It is so nice to hear everyone else fighting the same fight as me, and I’ve enjoyed reading about your recoveries. I am very sorry to all the people who have reinjured, but stay strong! You’ve got people behind you on you side. Thank you for the positive stories!

  168. Hi, I’m 6 months post op(L4-L5) and doing great but have some concerns on swimming, etc as I still get twinges and soreness-esp since I just swam 2 days ago for first time since back went out in March. Seeing a chiro and still intouch with my PT and feel I’m on the right road but so worried to re-injury myself and hate I’m still having rough painful days.
    Any clues on what swimming & stretching I should be doing ? Trying to do more then just my daily walking for exercise. Also started doing my p.t. daily again even though I was discharged from physical therapy like 2 months ago.
    thanks for any advice!!!! Great reading your stories, so glad I found this website

    1. Had same op 6 months ago. Just started swimming and golf – not overdoing it. Take Tramadol when needed. I’m retired so had to start getting more active!
      Doctor/physio both agree to do as much as possible in moderation and rest up a few days if any discomfort creeps in. Good luck, this is a great site to read about others experiences! Trevor

  169. This blog has been very inspiring to me. I am 7 months post micro discectomy. I was feeling 90+% healed until Saturday night went I twisted wrong starting a chainsaw. Now I have hip pain, lumbar pain and maybe a little leg pain, though today is much better than yesterday.

    Before my recent setback, I had been running up to 4 miles outside and had ridden my bike up to about 3 hours outside without issue. Maybe just slight soreness afterward.

    My biggest issue is fear of getting worse or not healing fully. This anxiety is pretty dreadful at times.

    Reading this blog has given me hope that I will fully recover and be virtually pain free some day.

    Thank you so much!


    1. Thanks Chris! Appreciate the kind words and glad you are doing better. I never imagined that so many people would be inspired by hearing about my experience, but it’s been over 6 years since my surgery and although I had a setback earlier this year with an unrelated back injury, I’ve been OK. Good luck to you!


      1. Hi Rick- Thanks for your recent post. I actually printed out a copy of that blog and stuck it to my cube at work. I don’t know how to thank you for this amazing thing that I am sure has helped a ton of us to recover with hope. I did think about you and so many people on this blog when I was going thru my time and it helped me then. So, most fortunately, all of it does go beyond thank you.

        I wish you well and good luck


  170. Like the rest of the folks, I appreciate reading all the success stories. I want to be one of those! I am 4 1/2 weeks post L4-5 and having some struggles and looking to see if anyone else has had what I’m feeling and can offer some POSITIVE comments. Also like many of you, my anxiety is MAXED OUT. I am a 48 year old physically fit mountain biker and camper. I’m outside with my kids many times a week every week! This has completely derailed my life and my families life for the last 6 months and is mentally exhausting. In June 2015, I had horrible sciatic episode in right butt/leg/foot. Starting losing feeling in foot/leg. Got a littel weak but not too bad. Got my 3 epidurals and steroid shot which kept me functional until surgery on Oct 1, 2015. In other words, the event only lasted 4 months before I had my surgery which the doc said was a success.

    I’m trying to walk regularly but paying for it every time.

    I am having significant coccyx “buzzing” that I can’t tell if it’s settling down or not(not noticing any progress). In other words, I can go do my walks but I pay for it for as long as 5 or 6 hours later as my coccyx goes thru MISERABLE sensations that I call “buzzing”. …MISERABLE! …and they add to my anxiety.

    Has anyone experienced anything like this? Is it just the nerves trying to settle down? It prevents me from increasing my exercise level. Otherwise, I’d be walking many miles by now. I have the ability to walk that many miles but the coccyx cranks up?

    Thoughts? Comments? again…I need POSITIVE input because my anxiety can’t take any more of this. I’m mentally exhausted! In the “ideal world”, I’m hoping someone will write back and say…”hey…I had that and YES, give it more time and it will go away. Keep walking. “This is very disheartening since everything else has gone so well. The muscle relaxers don’t seem to help at all.

    Thanks for the input!

    1. Hey Greg, I was in the same mental state myself. It takes time. The nerve heals very very slow and your Dr’s should have told you this. Search around on how long it takes a nerve to heal and you will start feeling better mentally. I am 50 and have just had to accept I won’t be doing certain things like running anymore. I have been mtn. biking 50 miles a week all season and 10 mile hikes are not an issue with a camelbak, just takes time. At 4.5 weeks you are just at the point where you should start healing at a faster rate. Hang in there and keep walking but try not to push it yet. 3 miles is plenty. Good luck.

      1. That’s great to hear! I so VERY MUCH look forward to cleaning out my nasty Camelbak (at this point) and throwing it over my shoulder and going for a REAL hike! Since you(or anyone else) have been in a similar (microdiscectomy) situation may I also ask a couple more questions that are keeping me in a lousy mental state. My docs gave me no REAL recovery advice other than “get walking…if it starts hurting, then stop…rest and go back at it”. The problem is, by the time it starts hurting, It takes me a few days to recover it seems. The coccyx thing already keeps me from walking too far even though I easily have the ability to walk further. Balancing this task is a terribly difficult effort! ANY UNIQUE SOLUTIONS FOR FINDING THAT BALANCE? I feel that I am far from full-on exercising due to the question below:

        I started having pain/weakness at the sacroilliac joints/muscles(both sides) as well as my right side glute post surgery. I’ve got to believe this is due to the nerve being all wracked when they pulled the herniated disc meat off of it but I can’t get the physician assistant to commit that THAT’s what it might be. ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS? I’m in an all/or none situation right now. I’m either flat on my back in couch/bed or I’m walking. I currently have a desk job but have been unable to spend more than 3 hours at work due to sacroilliac, glute and coccyx issues. I just bought one of those coccyx cushions which is quite the fashion statement but it helps a little bit. I guess my real question is…does this debilitatin stuff start going away soon or am I just being too impatient at 4.5 weeks. I feel like I’m going backward and not forward and it just sucks! I want to play with my kids and they miss their dad.

        Thanks so much for the input. I’ll look at a versaclimber when I can get further along.

    2. Hi Greg – I have been meaning to write back to you for a couple of days now and apologies that I could not do it sooner. I completely understand your situation. My recommendations are – First, please don’t panic at all, genuine it may be but realize that you are very new to this road to recovery. It takes time and great deal of patience in the earlier days, specially. If we act smart and take care of small little things, this recovery goes a long way. It’s a life long change and need to be maintained that way.
      Now, as to your current situation, I think that in general you will feel many things in a day. Dont micro-manage it. One can drive themselves and their family crazy over it. My rule of thumb when I was in your situation (and still sometimes when I think that I acted stupid and may have injured my back ) is/was to give it a few days and notice if the signs are changing i.e. are they staying as is?, wearing off or getting worse ?The first two are good signs and the last one is a bit concerning and that’s when I call my doctor/ physical therapist. Usually, signs change or dis-appear in a few days. I was a late recover. So, I felt good at week 8 or so, I started going back to work at week 11. Give it time. Compare how you were before and after the surgery. A lot of us feel better post surgery coz the excruciating pain is gone instantaneously. Believe me, the rest of it will go away too. We all had the stuff (in varied degrees and kinds) and the same worries as you do. At the end, this road does lead to recovery. Please hang in there and trust that this does get better at the end. What helped me a lot was walking and a distraction. I took up a course and studied and passed my time.
      I was in my late 20s when I got this injury so , I was and still am very conservative with my treatment/ Work out options. I did see a physical therapist at week 5 or 6 I believe and did whatever she told me but in a bit conservative manner. That helped a lot. I highly recommend a good therapist.
      My prayers and best wishes are with you. I am very positive that you will be back to what you were doing before . Be wise with your recover, dos/ donts and stay positive + patient

      – Rashi

  171. Also want to suggest a versaclimber for workout. Fantastic workout and very little impact. It was a great tool for me early on in rehab.

  172. Oops…sorry…I put this in the wrong place so I’m reposting at a different spot.

    That’s great to hear! I so VERY MUCH look forward to cleaning out my nasty Camelbak (at this point) and throwing it over my shoulder and going for a REAL hike! Since you(or anyone else) have been in a similar (microdiscectomy) situation may I also ask a couple more questions that are keeping me in a lousy mental state. My docs gave me no REAL recovery advice other than “get walking…if it starts hurting, then stop…rest and go back at it”. The problem is, by the time it starts hurting, It takes me a few days to recover it seems. The coccyx thing already keeps me from walking too far even though I easily have the ability to walk further. Balancing this task is a terribly difficult effort! ANY UNIQUE SOLUTIONS FOR FINDING THAT BALANCE? I feel that I am far from full-on exercising due to the question below:

    I started having pain/weakness at the sacroilliac joints/muscles(both sides) as well as my right side glute post surgery. I’ve got to believe this is due to the nerve being all wracked when they pulled the herniated disc meat off of it but I can’t get the physician assistant to commit that THAT’s what it might be. ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS? I’m in an all/or none situation right now. I’m either flat on my back in couch/bed or I’m walking. I currently have a desk job but have been unable to spend more than 3 hours at work due to sacroilliac, glute and coccyx issues. I just bought one of those coccyx cushions which is quite the fashion statement but it helps a little bit. I guess my real question is…does this debilitatin stuff start going away soon or am I just being too impatient at 4.5 weeks. I feel like I’m going backward and not forward and it just sucks! I want to play with my kids and they miss their dad.

    Thanks so much for the input. I’ll look at a versaclimber when I can get further along.

  173. Hi everyone,

    I am a 32 yr old female 4 months post op L4/L5 microdiscectomy. I’ve read a lot of online posts in search of finding positive advice and a connection with others that understand how challenging the recovery process can be with this surgery. It definitely took me longer to get to a point where I started noticing times when I was completely pain free (closer to 2-3 months post) I have been doing PT since about a month post op and started some chiropractic about a month ago. About two weeks ago after a particularly rigorous couple of PT sessions (and probably pushing myself too far in my office job w/ sitting) I had a pretty significant relapse in pain. Nothing as bad as before surgery which was unbearable but still something that really freaked me out. I saw my surgeons PA who advised to limit activity to just walking and gentle stretching for two weeks. I was still concerned a few days later so she ordered a 2nd MRI w/ contrast which I had done last Wednesday. I am still waiting on the results from that and of course I feel very anxious. The pain now comes and goes so maybe the rest is helping. Recovery from surgery was traumatic and has sidetracked me from my active and happy lifestyle – the idea of going backwards is very upsetting. Of course, it’s easy to immediately go to worst case scenario.. but I was wondering if anyone else had experienced something similar – like a temporary relapse which then went away after a period of time? Any support would be great – it is very difficult to help other people understand what this all feels like if they have never been through it. I just want to make plans for my life and feel like I just don’t know where I’ll be from month to month, week to week. Thanks for sharing your stories!


    1. It took a full 18 months for me to even go one day without some type of pain. I had plenty of setbacks. A couple times, the setback lasted a couple weeks and I thought for sure I had re-herniated. The pain was never as bad as it had been before surgery, and it always took a couple weeks to heal up. I had surgery in 2012, and got pregnant 9 months later, and now I’m doing great, no pain ever! I do Insanity workouts now, and I never thought I’d get to that point again. My advice, keep your core strong always, don’t get lax about core strength. When you irritate your nerve, put some ice on the spot in your back where you had surgery. If the pain is still a lot, talk to your doctor about taking Arthrotec, that helped me so much in the early days, but I had to stop taking it once I got pregnant. I also try to recline as much as possible at work to not aggravate my back or nerve. I have a stand-up desk, which I moved to just be halfway between sitting and standing, and then I basically recline in my chair so that I’m looking up at my computer, it’s awesome. But, yes, it took a full 18 months recovery time to get to this point again, and occasionally, I can still do something to irritate my nerve/back. I spent the entire day cleaning a few months ago and I noticed that my foot felt like it was asleep. If I sit in a bad way for awhile, I’ll notice pain in my back. It doesn’t scare me anymore, but I definitely take it as a warning sign to stop doing what I’m doing and relax.

  174. Hi Ashley,

    With my experience it was a year’s worth of ups and downs after surgery but the pain was never anywhere close to what I went through before surgery. it was more like tingles here and there, my foot would feel like it was on fire sometimes, or it would get real cold. My biggest advice to people is to really listen to their body. If you are feeling pain, then you need to make sure you don’t over do things. If you feel good one day, then try to focus on getting your stretching in.. The PT will help you build up strength and endurance, and probably muscle mass in your back which you were likely to have lost prior to and just after the surgery. My surgery was in 2009 and just this past summer was when I felt like I could go to the gym and do a completely full strength all out workout without having to worry about re-injury. I’ve had set backs, like a back sprain, but that was my fault because I sat around for a month doing nothing last winter and then tried to do some Yoga.. Bad move.. You’ll come out OK.. just listen to your body.

    Good luck!


  175. I had surgery for L5/S1 herniation on June 9th. I felt instant relief post-op as I had lost my ability to stand. walk or sit due to the excruciating pain of the severe hernitation. I have had numbness, tingling and cramping in my left leg off and on since I have come home. I also have had some shooting pains from my incision site. I worried my self sick each day thinking I had done something to cause a new injury or have the herniation again. I adhere to the no bend, llift, twist and stay very conscious of my activities. I spoke to a friend who had been through the surgery and she said all of this is normal. That I could expect to have this over the next several weeks or months as I heal and muscles are used again and blood flow returns to the nerves. It helped me to relax some. My biggest concern now is returning to work. I am a 911 operator and sit at a desk sometimes for hours before I can move. I have capabilities to raise my desk but it makes my job more difficult to do so. I have read where sitting causes the most stress on your back so I try not to sit longer than 15-20 minutes at home without getting up and walking. I sat longer than that one day that I had visitors and have had stiffness in my lower back around the area of my incision. I wonder if anyone else has input on this? I wonder if the long expansse of time I was sitting is the cause or if it is just another passing phase in the healing process? All in all I am quite pleased with how I feel compared to the excruciating pain before surgery. I walk a couple miles a day. I haven’t started physical therapy as my surgeon does not recommend starting it for 4-6 weeksw post-op. I appreciate the positive posts on here. Like most others, In searching the internet I read so many horror stories I was getting discouraged.

  176. I just found this site, I too am looking for positive input.Today Nov 6 – I’m Post Op 12 days Discectomy – . Unfortunately, if I try to stand totally erect, I can still generate the same excruciating pain in my knee and shin . Prior to surgery, I walked bent “way” forward head down, and just 10 steps would bring me to my knees. Today I am walking a “little” more erect and can take no more than 100 steps in the house before I feel something coming on. – AM is always better the PM. So, I’m wondering, did the surgery work? do I just need more time, or was it diagnosed wrong, ???? – To be specific, my first MRI in july this year shows various issues with my lumbar (L/L2 was fine, L2L3 Bulging disc moderate stenois, L3L4 was were the surgery took place), L4L5 Central disc herniation moderate stenois, S1/L5 central disc protrusion with mild stenois, So again, the one in question was the L3L4 which was described on the report as “Large Recess Herniation with Extruded fragment – even I could see this on the MRI crashing into my spinal nerve – it was obviously something that needed to be addressed. My doctor and another doctor in manhattan both agreed on the same procedure. But I don’t understand why testing of some sort wasn’t done prior to VERIFY that my pain was coming from that herniation (or maybe such a test does not exist?). My doctor (Ortho surgeon) made a small incision in my back, made a hole/window in my lamina, retracted the nerve to pull out 40 individual fragments (as he put it) and left the disc intact. So last Friday I told him of my pain and he asked me to have another MRI done – he wants to see if the nerve is really free – and asked me to take Lyrica 75mg twice a day for now. In all honesty, I am very nervous they he might suggest another similar or tougher surgery. So if anyone can relate to my situation, please tell me what to (maybe) expect in a month Post Op Nov 25 or Christmas. I thought I was going back to work January but now I wonder. Any comments are appreciated – thanks to all. Just want my life back. Then again, I just want to be able to walk outside without this girdle like brace and walk just one mile. That would be like winning the lottery, Take care – g.

  177. Hi all,
    Im very afraid to go for surgery on L4 L5. Im have pain from last 2 months i tried everything nothing help.
    I think what i read about all negative take long to recover and not sure that will be ok

    1. Muhammad, what type of surgery are you having? I had the operation mentioned above – its 6 weeks and I’m walking a mile with no pain – maybe a little here and there but its nothing – I believe after a month or so of PT ill be fine.

    2. I had my surgery in March and am grateful every single day for it! The recovery was not nearly as bad as the pain I was experiencing prior to it. There are some little bumps, aches, and pains as you recover but the relief was just pretty immediate. I was able to travel to Italy just 5 weeks after surgery.

  178. Love the positive posts and this site for real information. Was wondering if anyone has had similar to mine . Had l4/l5 with really bad left hip pain with very bad spasms along with leg pains down to ankle. Had MD and am a little over 3 weeks out. Out of hospital and on all the pain med I would roll over and still felt pain in hip. At my two weeks checkup Dr gave muscle relaxer for hip which I took for several days. I was walking 1.5 miles at one time with no major issuesearch and up to 2-3 miles a day (have fitbit). Medication i was down to only a motrin when i needed it. Last Thursday was tired and felt muscle spasms again in hip late in the afternoon and took muscle relaxer. Woke up with what felt like electric current going through my electric leg. Laid on heating pad and it seemed to help some. Called dr who said it may be a reaction to relaxer. Two days later had tingling/numbness start on my right leg and my toes want ro curl up. Went back to Dr who gave gabapentin and steroids and have another MRI scheduled for Friday. Dr did stra8ght leg test and had me bend forward and back with no pain. Every night same thing pain in hip and muscle spasms especially when rolling over which I am very careful not to twist. During the day it’s occasional leg issues which I understand and can manage. Right leg has gotten better I don’t notice much anymore. Questions is does anyone have the muscle spasms after MD and did the finally resolve? It’s driving me crazy to,think I may have reherniated again and have to start over.

    1. It is such a process and every little pain, spasm, or twinge sets our bodies into overdrive and our minds think we’ve re-herniated. I went through that mentally quite often. All I can say is that healing is very intense and really different for everyone. I still get the occasional spasm and twinges of numbness. I went for two weeks with off and on tingling in my legs, 6 months after surgery. My doctor told me that the soft tissue healing can cause all sorts of jolts and reactions in the body and to not overthink it. Wishing you the best!

    2. Brad thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I started this blog because there wasn’t any real info out there from others who have been through this surgery. It’s been 7+ years since I had the surgery and I can honestly say there have only been a couple of hiccups in regards to back pain. I injured my back 2 different times due to trying to exercise after weeks of inactivity. Those were serious lower back sprains, one of which took 6 weeks of physical therapy to heal. The key thing to remember post-op is that you will have different feelings/sensations for months or even years after surgery. I find that if I keep moving, even short walks throughout the day and stretching have kept me super healthy otherwise. While I didn’t have any real issues during the first year of recovery, I do sometimes now feel as if my ankle might be weak, or my leg might be a little numb. Just have to push through and keep moving. Since my surgery, I’ve been able to run 10 miles with no problem and I even joined a UFC gym where I regularly do 90 minutes of the highest intensity workouts I’ve ever done in my life. Getting proper nutrition + staying hydrated can help keep those spasms away too. I also find that investing in the occasional massage works wonders too. Good luck to you and thanks again for your story and feedback! – Rick

  179. Thanks for the encouragement it is very hard to stay positive. It worries me when I had the tingling move to my other leg. The spasms and deep hip pains at night are quite painful say 6 out of 10. Does the steroid packs work and how long before you start to see results? What about gabapentin?

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