Discectimy 2 years ago. Sciatica back with a vengeance

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I had surgery in Sept 2015.  Back been great only the odd twinge. However I am back to square one. For past  6?weeks I’ve been in agony.  Pain in left leg and foot unbearable. Also pain in my right buttock, hip and top leg.  Back on medication gabaphentin, naproxen and co-codomol.  Attending physio but making no difference.  Told by physio I may need further surgery.   Wasn’t even aware until today that the surgeon had removed the disc last time. I thought he had filed it down and removed the pulp not the full disc. So worried that given the pain I’m currently in I’m going to have to go through it all again.  The thought of being left for months suffering this pain terrifies me but so does the thought  of more surgery.   Anyone else had further surgery? 

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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear about the pain you are in.

    Which segment was the discectomy that you had? 

    When you have a discectomy they just remove whatever disc tissue has pushed into the space where the nerves are. That can be the outer annulus and/or the gel like material in the centre of the disc, depending on how bad the herniation was.

    The disc does not heal or regenerate. It just scars over, but it can sometimes herniate again causing similar symptoms. First you must get an MRI to see if that has happened.

    Usually the first op for reherniation is a revision, ie the same op again.

    If it keeps happening then you will be in for a fusion. That’s where they totally remove the disc, but a spacer and bone in it’s place, then screws in the vertebra and rods connecting the screws to keep the segment still as the fusion between the vertebrae takes place. It takes about 3 months and is quite a big deal.

    I have had one step short of fusion, dynamic stabilisation. They leave the disc and the rods are semi flexible so you get support and stiffening of the segment  but not fusion. Tbh it has not worked very well. I have pain now than before. I think the system overloads the facet joints between the vertebrae so I might end up having fusion. The downside is that it’s a long recovery and it can lead to issues with the next joint up, or if it’s the L5S1 segment, you can also push stress down to the SI joints and they can be really nasty as well. I have intermittent issues with my left SI joint. 

    Anyway, first thing, get an MRI ASAP. Then you will know what you are dealing with. Revisions do usually work but everyone is different.


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    • Posted


      Thank you for this 

      I was driving when out on a visit today as part of my job. I had to pull over on the motorway as pain became unbearable and foot went numb.  Colleagues came and got me.  Now  at home waiting for a call from my GP as can’t bare pain. I have had gabaphentin, naproxen and co-codomol and it’s not even hitting the pain.  I can’t stand as soon as I put weight on my leg it gives way.  I can’t go through this again for 9 months like Indus last time.   Been waiting on call for 2 hours.  

      Any advice appreciated

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  • Posted


    If you have weakness in your leg then go to A&E. You sound like you have reherniated the disc and it’s affecting the motor function of the nerve. If that damage is left for too long it can become partially permanent. You should get some oral steroids at the very least - something like 80mg of Prendnisone a day tapering down, but really you should be looking for a steroid injection to reduce the nerve inflammation as fast as possible.

    Then an MRI, then a revision op.

    You should be able to get seen at A&E and some oral steroids easy enough on the NHS, but after that the queues start and they could make you wait. If you have any way to go private, then you should do so. I had partial paralysis of left left calf due to herniation and it is not fully better 18 months later. I did not realise the danger I was in so I took about a week to get it treated with steroids initially.

    If you have any kind of paralysis or weakness, dont waste any time. Go to A&E ASAP.


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    • Posted

      Also to say, that although the steroids can take the initial pressure off the nerve, the only real fix will be a revision to remove the tissue that has got into contact with the nerve. If the pain is really bad you could have a sequestered herniation where the gel is leaking out of the disc. That causes very severe inflammation in the nerve, which is why you need to get it out of there.

      The NHS night schedule a microdiscectomy as an emergency but if they put you in a queue waiting weeks or months, do your best to go private. It will cost a fair bit - about £5-6k I think - but IMO the quality and timing of the care would make it worth it.

      Again, the urgency is IF you have weakness or partial paralysis. It sounded from your description that you do.

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