Is it time for a discectomy?

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/30/2012 11:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, I am 35 years old and have a herniated disk at my L5/S1 nerve root.  It is 11 mm and I have had it for about one and  a half years.  I have pain, numbness, burning and tingling down my right leg into my foot.  My heal of my foot is always numb. I have had 4 epidural injections which I found to be very helpful but only last 1 or maybe 2 months but it takes almost all of the pain away except for the numbness in my heal and then it slowly comes back.  I am thinking that maybe the injections are not enough and should just have the surgery but I hear horror stories about the pain of the surgery and how people feel worse after surgery.  I have tried everything, even PT that made it worse, and only take motrin for the pain which makes it livable.  I'm not in lots of pain like everybody else is having but it's getting old.  I would like to take a walk around the block without leg pain.  I am able to do my everyday activities without a problem because my pain is not constent depending on my position or if I'm walking and stoping or just going for a walk. I try not to bend or over due it but due have a 10 and 7 year old to take care of.

Screaming Eagle
Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 4/30/2012 12:09 PM (GMT -6)   
    Hello kitndust!
       Welcome to the CP forum! wink
         I think there comes a point and time, that if your condition is getting worse, and there is a chance that you may end up with permanent damage, then serious consideration should be taken as to whether or not to proceed with the surgery. Of course it is not an easy decession to make...but I would suggest that you also seek a second opinion by a surgeon. I think bottom line is, what may happen if you do not get it done?
     If your foot is numb..I'm guessing it may become worse...and to the point you may not be able to walk.
       Yes there are risk involved, however.waiting too long may have greater risk. Again seek a couple of professional opinion's. OK? wink
    Take care!...and again Welcome to the forum! Enjoy!
    SE wink        
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Weekly Quote!

"Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward."

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 4/30/2012 12:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Did one of your doctor mention surgery? Surgery is something that should be considered very
extreme, as it does have a lot of risks, like what SE mentioned...and you should always get a second
opinion in this area...and once you do start down the road of surgery (from what I've heard) "once
surgery always surgery", as a discectomy can lead to a fusion surgery...Do a google search on discectomies...
read for yourself how common they are with fusions...but there are also many types of discectomy as
well for you to read up on...but if your doctor has not brought this subject up and your getting some
good results with the injections maybe consider a "RFA" procedure (Radiofrequency ablation) which
might give you some better relief...lots of homework for you to do by looking all these things up, but
it'll help you consider the best route for you to take...
Many well wishes to you...and keep us posted...

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/30/2012 12:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I saw a surgeon and he said he would do the surgery but only because I have had it so long and it has gotten bigger than when I first started the leg pain but he was also surprised how well the injections work on me and he said that I need to draw a line in the sand and when I cross it, I should let him know. He told me I could just keep getting injections as long as they are still working but some last longer than others on me. He also said that I had no problems hopping up on the table where lots of other people have.

I am worried that if I do wait too long my foot will always be numb but if I do have the surgery, will I be worse off then before. I just keep hoping that one day it will start going away. I have to take motrin before bed or I will wake up during night with my leg aching. I need to make up my mind soon while I still have good insurance because in a year, I won't be able to afford a surgury or the injections and this summer would be the perfect time for a surgery due to busy school years.

I have done a google search on discectomies and learned a lot but I haven't on a fusion surgery. My mother in law had a fusion surgery but acted like it was not that bad. I am going to google a "RFA". Thank you!!!!!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 1355
   Posted 4/30/2012 7:47 PM (GMT -6)   
I am recovering from discectomy and fusion and it is a big deal. I am glad I had the surgery because I feel the world better usually. You are right do your research and be sure if you decide to do this that you take time to recover.
Take care

Insulin Dependant Diabetic, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, IBS, Sleep Apnea, COPD, Spondylolistesis, Diabetic Neuropathy, Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 6005
   Posted 5/1/2012 12:16 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm recovering too, and I'm much better (by no means pain-free, though.) I was in so much pain beforehand that I really couldn't function, so the decision wasn't that hard for me. The injections didn't help much, either. Mine was at the L4-L5 nerve root.

It is a huge deal, as you said, expensive and risky. I can see how hard it must be in your situation, where you are still able to carry on with your normal life to a large degree.

I'm glad you're doing a lot of research before making any decision.

Moderator, Fibromyalgia Forum

Fibromyalgia, herniated disc L4-5, (with recent surgery), bulging disc L5-S1, other assorted spinal deterioration, scoliosis, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, IBS, migraines, tachycardia, hearing loss (probably Menieres)

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 5/1/2012 1:17 AM (GMT -6)   
kitndust welcome to Healingwell Chronic Pain forum, You  have a big decision to make, and a very serious one at that. You are correct in saying that it is possible to have the surgery and come out in worse shape than what you are now, and to a certain extent it is some what of a gamble. But it is a gamble not to do anything at all too, by not having surgery you could get worse (possibly allot worse) and of course, I am not just talking about pain, it is possible to have permanent nerve damage too, which could cost you some mobility. I have had three surgeries on my neck two diskectomy's and fusions, By th e way when I had my fisrt diskectomy and fusion at C6/7 in 85 I was on 34 years old!   Then  in 2009 I had to have another one at C5/6,  and then they done a posterior fusion of the articular joints at C3/4 in 2010, with that one I had rods and pins put in to stabilize the whole thing.) I now need to have more surgery, a diskectomy at L3 and L4. I have been putting this surgery off for a long time but am now going to go ahead with getting it done! I will start a new thread about it when I get the final surery date and everything, it might  be a month or two yet.
Anyway I can appreciate your apprehension and concern, and I think it is great that you are doing your home work and checking everything out.  One thing you ought to check on is the epidural steroid injections, I think it is fantastic that you are getting such good relief from them, ( I have had allot of them and normally  only get three weeks of relief at max!) but you can only get so many of them in a certain period of time, as they to can have some nasty side affects if you get to many of them. And of course they are not a fix but only a temporary way of getting relief. For my self I have never regretted getting my fusions, but make no mistake about it,...... the healing process can be painful and difficult and it is not uncommon to feel that maybe you did not do the right thing by having surgery! During recovery these feeling are not uncommon, but once you get through the recovery period and get back to normal, ( by the way, just to be clear, you will never be the same as you were before your disks went bad!) but you most likely will be allot ( and I mean a whole lot) better than what you were before the surgery!
I am glad you have come here, and I do hope you will continue to be apart of our family here at Healing Well! Please keep us posted on how you are doing and what you finally decide! I think you will find you will have allot of support here, and allot of really compassionate and caring folks that really do care understand and can empathize with you. You are not alone when you are here, and even if you do not have allot of pain, I am sure you do sometimes get frustrated and might need a friendly ear to listen to you. You have that here, and I am sure you can also contribute in helping others too!
I wish you well!
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 5/1/2012 10:01 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree with what White Beard said, this is a major decision you
will have to make, so do your homework and do seek out another
opinion as well, and keep us posted as what you choose to do, as we do truly
care...many well wishes...and maybe ask your doctor what type of
discectomy he'd be doing..they do have mirco discectomies and is a good place to start your research...
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2024
   Posted 5/1/2012 10:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi there
I just wanted to pop in to welcome you to our cp forum. Glad you found us but sorry you are having so much pain. You will enjoy the members here, they are great for supporting you, full of info. and ideas, very caring and understanding.
Hope you will stick with us and keep posting to let us know how you are doing.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/1/2012 10:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you everybody for your thoughts and help. Yesterday my foot started having a burning sensation which is something I havent had. It would just go to my heal and now it's almost to my toes and now my leg feels a little weak like I was excercising. I called this morning for appointment to see the surgeon again and he is booked until July 5th so I also made an appointment with somebody else in the spine department who is not a surgeon but gives me my prescriptions for May 17th. Maybe there is a medication that can help me some.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16765
   Posted 5/1/2012 2:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Kitndust, if you are having numbness in your foot and some weakness in your leg you could very well have a nerve that is being pinched or compressed. Sometimes drs will rx medications that work on nerves like, Lyrica, Neurotin or Cymbalta. It is like any other medication we take it may help or it may not. Surgery can be done to release the pressure off of the nerve. Leaving it alone there is a chance of the the nerve becoming permanently damaged then no surgery will correct that. Either way it is a gamble. I have seen many on this forum over the years say they wished they had not waited so long to have surgery because they ended up with permanent nerve damage and even after surgery it did not help the nerve pain. It happened to a friend of mine and now she drags her leg when she walks.

Any spine surgery is a big deal no matter how you look at it. But, if drs did not get good results they would not still be doing surgeries in this country either. You should really consider getting a 2nd opinion, no one should ever have surgery without at least a 2nd opinion. An excellent website about the spine is

Its rotten that you will be losing your insurance because without it or a ton of money upfront no dr will touch you or an hospital allow an admission. I understand your thoughts on getting it done while you still have coverage. You have a lot to think about for sure.

Take care....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum
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