Revision Surgery for Prolapsed L5 S1?

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hi there,

I had a micro-D in 2000 on my L5 S1, after 2 years of horrendous back pain and misdiagnosis. I was only 14 at the time, so very young to have such a catastrophic disc prolapse with no trauma. I have just found out that my L5 S1 is bulging again (x-ray report says 'marked disc space narrowing at l5 S1' ), but also my L4 appears to be bulging too ('significant disc space narrowing at L4' ). I'm wondering if anyone else has had this happen, and if there is a greater chance I will need a second surgery given my history?

The symptoms I have at the moment are nerve pain (aching) in both legs but predominantly right, some tingling & sensation changes in the right calf and cramping in both calf muscles. My GP says to go back in 2 weeks and see how it's going, and physio says if he can't fix it I'll be headed down the surgery path again.

I'd appreciate any feedback from people who have been through the same thing, whether they required revision surgery or if it was just a non-surgical treatment that fixed the discs? I don't want to be in pain forever!!

Thank you.

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  • Posted

    Hi there I have collapsed discs at both S1/L5 and L5/L4 one with a tear and one bulging into my spinal column and sciatic nerve shown in an MRI. I've got degenerative disease and my backs more like a 60 year old, I'm 39. I had what's called a moving x ray which was painful. This showed me curling in a ball and backwards (which was extremely painful). This shows my back deforming upon movement, so I'm in for an S1/L5 fusion and decompression tomorrow. My surgeon is hopeful this has a great outcome as the xray shows to him this is hopefully (as they never really can be 100% sure) why I'm in so much pain. I do however have concerns as the disc above is also ruined and we are not sure how it will cope with the extra pressure, backs can be like dominoes once you click one over, they all start to come down.

    I put up with the pain of degenerative disease for 6 years by completely changing my lifestyle, I started weights which really helped, I took pain meds and got a memory foam pillow and mattress.

    It helped until recently things changed 2 years ago, then 1year who, then 6 months got bad and 3 months ago the pain was unbearable, now I take 20 pain meds a day, 4 different types just to keep me at work. I can't stand or walk for more than 10 minutes.

    You have suffered from such an early age. Ask for the moving x ray, see if your spine is moving out of alignment. Find the right pain meds to keep you comfortable, I take Acupan (made nd feel crap to start with) gabapentin, co codamol and tramadol. I also learn hypnotherapy to help me change how I felt about my pain.

    Good luck keep in touch.


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  • Posted

    Thanks so much for your reply - I'm sorry to hear you've been in so much pain, I hope your surgery went well and you're on the road to recovery (although at this stage I'm sure you're feeling pretty rough!)

    I'd love to follow up with you on how it went once you're up to it, so please do keep in touch.

    I'm a personal trainer and swimming teacher, so I've been super active since the first surgery, and did weight training and lots of cardio - in fact I'm doing a 100km walk in May to raise money for Oxfam. Well I will be if my back doesn't get a whole ton worse before then! Apart from the walking training (which triggers some super bad sciatica) I can't do anything really - haven't done a workout for probably 5 months and hating it!

    This degenerative disease is the pits, I feel so much for what you've been through - I'm 28 now and shudder to think what will happen to my discs by the time I'm 50 let alone 70! I think it's at least partly genetic, my paternal grandmother had an l5,S1 prolapse which they fused and has had nothing but problems since. Hopefully as technology advances we can expect better treatments so we don't end up in wheelchairs!

    I'm doing acupuncture and physiotherapy, but neither helps with the spinal pain or nerve symptoms - it really just releases the muscles around the area that are in spasm. On one hand i don't want to have surgery again, but on the other I don't want to have to put up with this! My first microdiscectomy worked great for 13 years once I learnt how to use and control my core, maybe it would be better to have another surgery than this 'wait and see' approach. It just feels so disheartening when you do all the right things and the discs still prolapse.

    Take care and good luck with your recovery!

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  • Posted

    I've been trying to respond to you buy I've either been in so much pain or really doped up on various painkillers.

    You need to do what's best for you, no one knows your body like you. I had no quality of life, my job was affected, we couldn't plan anything.

    The space in my back has been jacked up and a cage, titanium rods and screws are holding my spine into alignment, it's a shame the disc above at L5/L4 is knackered too, I'm sure ill be back for another fusion sooner.

    I am focusing on getting well for Download rock festival in June, I've already cancelled my holiday at Easyer, I'm taking my life back. I seriously understimated the pain.

    Good luck and remember do your homework list pros and cons.

    Keep us posted

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  • Posted


    I am 15 and in October 2012 i had a serious horse-riding accident which caused a L4/5 disc prolapse.I have had chronic back pain ever since.I have been having osteopathy .Last year i had an attack of sciatica so bad that i had to be admitted to A&E .I couldn't walk for a day.In 2013 i went to see my GP about my pain to see about having an MRI scan.She told me that she couldn't book me one as NHS rules state that GPs ca't book MRI scans without sending a letter to a consultant ,who on deciding whether i needed on or not ,marked it down as routine even though my GP had requested an urgent scan.In the end my parents had to pay out £200 for a private scan.

    After a referral letter , from my GP ,i was referred to a pediatric consultant who examined me and then organised a blood test and a MRI scan.The results of the blood test were normal and the scan showed the same as the private one .[L4/5 prolapse] She then referred me[in 2014] to a specialist at the Royal London Hospital who would asses e further and decide on treatment.

    When I went to this appointment, the consultant examined my movement and then told me that the i would need to be referred to a specialist pediatric spinal surgeon who would decide treatment options with me.Later on that month, i received a letter which had an appointment for physio and stated that my 'condition' was lifelong .A s the appointment is for May ,i haven't been to see the surgeon yet, but recently , i have started to have urinary incontinence and this weekend i had a severe sciatic attack again ,but this time i was sofa bound for the weekend and needed a cane to help me walk the next week.

    Pain killers have no effect on me and the only ting which gives me temporary relief[3 days at most!!!] is acupuncture for which i am seeing a osteopath 2 twice a month for treatment.

    Do i need surgery? i am becoming tired of waiting and having to live with this as i cannot participate in the sports that previous to the accident i enjoyed.I cant run and i have limited movement in my back.

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  • Posted

    Hello, I was wondering what was your outcome? Did you wind up getting surgery? My 16 year old daughter had a disectomy on her L4/L5 back in October due to a herniation causing nerve compression. It started when she was 14. Other than her L4/L5, her spine is quite healthy. Unfortunately her disc immediately reherniated and her pain has been even worse, to the point she is now "home bound" for school. We have revision surgery scheduled but both she and I are very nervous that it will also be a failure. I desperately need to find some success stories! Thank you!
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