Discectomy Pain

Category - surgery

Epidural Injections

On the recommendation of a neurologist, I began epidural treatments for back pain in early 2013.  These were injections of Depo Medrol used to reduce swelling, and inflammation in my lower back.  After several treatments that were largely ineffective, I stopped with the injections and looked for other forms of pain relief.

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Spinal Stenosis Video (Animation)

In 2011, as my neurosurgeon was explaining the results of the laminectomy, he casually mentioned that I had condition known as Spinal Stenosis, most likely congenital and most likely the cause of my Sciatica.  Of course, this was all news to me and I wondered why it hadn’t been noticed on the MRI scan.  Regardless, I had a new back ailment to add to the list and one that laminectomy should partially fix.

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Laminectomy Video (Animation 2)

In September of 2011 I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.  The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.  He also performed another procedure unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which I won’t discuss at the moment.  The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.

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Spinal Fusion

Of the more common types of back surgery to relieve disc related pain, Spinal Fusion seems to be the most complex involving implants and bone grafts.  Here’s how a spinal fusion is  performed.

After several lengthy discussions with my Orthopedic surgeon and Neurosurgeon, I’ve been told that a spinal fusion will be a last resort if all other treatment methods fail.  From my conversations, it seems like surgeons want to avoid this type of surgery as it’s difficult to determine exactly where the pain is coming from.  As Dr. Peter Ulrich states “spinal fusion surgery only works for specific indications and only can work if we can identify what the specific pain generator for the patient is. Probably 80-90% of the time, the pain generator can’t be identified.”

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Laminectomy Video

In September of 2011 I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.  The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.  He also removed a Schwannoma, unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which you can read about here.  The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.

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Discectomy: One Man’s Tail

Now why would I name this blog discectomypain.com if I hadn’t endured a micro-discectomy for a herniated disc?  Well I have, so hence the name and on with my first-hand account – but first a bit of history for context.

About two months ago, on a random Tuesday morning, I bent forward to tie my shoe laces and never really got back up for the better part of five weeks.  I’ve been suffering with sharp, zinging lower back pain for years (related to 2 herniated discs – L4/L5 – L5/S1) but this time the mild Sciatica I had been experiencing on and off for years, turned into an excruciating nerve pain that got worse over the course of 5 days.  Luckily, I had an up-to-date MRI so the surgeon quickly diagnosed an L4 protrusion pushing on the Sciatic nerve.  My options:  1) wait it out and hope it eventually settles down 2) Discectomy.  Notice that there was no option 3 for me.  At the time of the diagnosis, I had been on laying on my stomach for 2 weeks – the only position that didn’t aggravate my Sciatica, medication brought no relief, and seeking any type of therapy meant moving, and moving was intolerable.

The miscrodiscectomy took 2 hours and when I woke up the nerve zingers were gone…errr…for the most part.  After a few days of recovery I could tell that all was not perfect.  As the surgeon explained to me, there may be some permanent or semi permanent nerve damage depending on how hard my Sciatic nerve was pinched.  I still feel a duller version of the original sciatic pain radiating down the back of my calf to the ankle…about 1/10 the strength.  Other issues I’m experiencing include partial foot numbness (top half) and scar tissue pain from the incision (which is minimal).  This article outlines some of the complications that can occur after surgery.

All things considered, I’m glad I went through with the procedure but time will tell if it was a complete success.  Here’s my scar and minor swelling 4 weeks post surgery:

Sandeep L4 L5 discectomy post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s Susan Kaye’s follow up videos after a microdiscectomy at L4/L5.  Watching her recover really put my mind at ease pre-surgery.

1 month Post-Surgery

6.5 month Post-Surgery

1 year Post-Surgery

Laminectomy

In September of 2011, I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.  The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.  He also performed another procedure unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which I won’t discuss at the moment.  The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.

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