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Well, I have just had surgery!

PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:00 pm
by Henry
Dear fellow sufferers. As promised I will now let you know how the microdiscectomy for L4/5 prolapse went (which I had yesterday). Incidentally, I decided not to have epidural injections on the advice of the surgeon because he thought that surgery in his experience offered a better chance of the nerve healing and I also had possibly irreversible loss of power in the foot which needed prompt action. I was also in very great continuous pain having relapsed soon after my very positive posting of a few weeks ago (I can't believe how it went downhill so quickly) and getting very depressed and couldn't face the epidural not working or only partly working. I just wanted a quick fix or out of it because I just couldn't get on with my life. Microdiscectomy has progressed massively in recent years I understand and my operation only took about 30-45 minutes under general anesthesia although the total package still cost me about £5K ($10000).

The results?
Well, 24 hours later I am home and don't have any of the intense burning front of shin pain, pain in knee or pain over top of the foot. I still have a slight weakness in affected foot but it feels better. I can sit with care for 30 minutes or so but still tend to stand (as I have been doing all day for last 3 months). I have no back pain following the surgery (but didn't really have any before). The wound is only 2 inches long. I was given a metal ribbed corset to wear. The pain in the leg has been replaced by a tingling feeling and very slight numbness but this is not stinging, burning or painful as it was before and hasn't woken me at night as it did before making me get up every 2 hours and walk about for half an hour before going back to bed. I guess the nerve needs to heal for this minor tingling to go. Others who have had the procedure say it takes a couple of months or so to go. It is similar to the referred knee pain that continued for 3 months after a successful hip replacement I had 4 years ago. They only remove part of the disc where pressing on the nerve root so it still has to heal like those of you doing it without surgery. Mine was just too bad for that I guess and although the surgeon said it would probably get better eventually on it's own I couldn't wait that long and decided to follow his advice to "get on with my life" and go for it. I realise (as Randolph says) that I need to adopt a lifestyle change but I would need to do that even if I didn't have surgery and just relied on RYB etc. I realise there is as much as 20% chance of further herniation (with or without surgery) so am having a follow-up course of physiotherapy and will take RYB with me to see what physio feels about the exercises and let you know. Maybe a bit too strong just after surgery. I have cut back my driving from 600 miles a week to 100 thanks to a job change and plan to swim once a week and to keep on walking at least a couple of miles a day. At the age of 61 I see this as a positive wake-up call with retirement approaching and hopefully it has taught me a lesson. Hope you have found this recent insight helpful and I will post an update in a week or so.

Best regards
Henry (UK)

PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:57 am
by Dean
Hey Henry,

Glad the surgery went well. I was worried because sometimes they start out doing a micro-discectomy and end up doing much more. I'm so glad that didn't happen in your case.

Do keep us updated on your progress.


PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 6:28 am
by Dean
Hi all,

I just answered a post in the back pain forum that reminded me of Henry's situation. If you’d like to know my take on why some people experience a relapse you can read it here:

Unfinished Business


PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:58 am
by randolph
Your "partially filled tire" metaphor works for me Dean ... I like it ... speaking as one who has driven too hard and fast, on a partially filled tire ... and experienced relapse.

Good to read of your progress, Henry. Also, that you've been able to reduce your amount of driving; that should REALLY help with your recovery. Careful with the swimming at the start: doing the crawl can put a lot of stress on your lower back. (I guess all that leg kicking and flexing of the lower back).

While travelling around the country driving my big truck, I frequently meet folks who have had successful microdiscectomies. Success seems to depend on heeding the wake-up call and making those life-style changes; not making the changes seems to set one up for a more aggressive, surgical intervention (just ask Randy Johnson and Larry Bird).


Just over 2 weeks since surgery

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:48 pm
by Henry
Hello again. I had the microdiscectomy on 2nd August and all has gone very well. I was 90% better immediately after the surgery but still had some smarting, stinging pain in my shin where I had it before only it was much worse then. This nerve pain is slowly getting better and I have been unaware of it for a while today although it comes back if I walk too far or stay on my feet too long. As I see it the microdiscectomy if done by a good surgeon (this is critical) just removes the bit of the disc pressing on the nerve and allows the nerve to heal more quickly. Basically it is the same as leaving it up to a year or so to heal of it's own accord only if the op goes well it shortens this period and improves your quality of life. My pain was just so bad I could not wait that long. I know as Dean and Randolph say that I MUST make lifestyle changes to prevent a re-herniation of the disc. My surgeon put this risk at 1 or 2 % which is better than I thought. As far as I can gather having the op hasn't altered the risk of it re-prolapsing but possibly the surgery will allow the disc lesion to heal up better than if left to its own devices and I am certainly much more aware of the risks than I was and I am currently having a course of physiotherapy but only very gentle exercises so far. Also not sitting for more than 30 mins at a time at the moment on advice of physios but at least I can now sit more comfortably than a few weeks ago (see my previous posts).

Regards to all