Skip to content
Includes Expert Content
discectomy and recovery
avatar
ocjlb posted:
I am 6 weeks post-op for a discectomy (2nd surgery in the last two years). Post-op (and prior to surgery), I have been experiencing severe numbness in right leg, buttocks, and groin area, as well as some numbness in bottom of right foot. Up until yesterday, these symptoms have been fairly consistent before and since surgery, not getting better or worse. However, beginning yesterday, I began to feel mild pain in my "saddle", as if I had been riding a horse for 6 hours. At the same time, my numbness appears to be less in the other areas. I take this to be a good sign, as the lower back pain reminds me of simple lower back pain. Understanding that everyone is different, can anybody chime in on this progression of symptoms? BTW, I am on no pain meds (except for ibuprofen/acetaminophen on occasion). Additionally, I am doing PT twice a week and following that with home exercises.
Reply
 
avatar
bj1208 responded:
hi and welcome to the support group -

I'm kinda surprised that u are starting physical therapy so soon - but some surgeons are different - I didn't start mine til after my 7th month post op (fusion - L5-S1)

you didn't say which disc(s) were involved but am assuming in the lower back area - during some surgeries by moving around parts (for lack of better term! LOL) some nerve endings can be touched or moved slightly - sometimes these will show up immediately after surgery or may show up a few weeks later -

It could be that physical therapy is irritating these nerve roots - you may want to discuss this with ur surgeon before any more treatments are done - ur surgeon may order an MRI or request an EMG Nerve Conduction test to see if there is any nerve damage (oh nothing against Neurosurgeons, but they are touchy with this and will stand by that nothing is wrong) I had to go to an Orthopedic Spine Specialist who did order the test and found I had severe nerve damage in my left leg -

I don't want to worry you - but it does seem a little to early for physical therapy - I know you are doing well and are on no pain meds but doing this too soon can cause problems - so do be very careful -

Please keep us posted - take care - Joy
 
avatar
ocjlb replied to bj1208's response:
Thanks for the reply. Both my surgeries involved L5/S1 (no fusion). I should have mentioned that I had to take two long drives this past weekend (3.5 hours each) to attend my niece's wedding - could not blow that off... I think that these long drives are what is causing my "saddle" pain...

re: PT, I have had therapy several times prior to now and can truly attest to the extremely gentle approach that is being taken now. If anything, the PT has lessened some of my discomfort, and we are taking a very slow approach. The guiding principle right now is neutral spine, which my PT is a stickler about.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to ocjlb's response:
hi again - yes sitting in car that long can give u the 'saddle burn' it's always best to start out and take little stops about every 30 minutes - this way you can get out and stretch - I know it will add more time to the trip but in the long run will be best on behind and back~~ take care - Joy
 
avatar
Rafael Levin, MD, MSc responded:
It sounds like you have been experiencing significant symptoms of nerve compression prior to surgery. You did not specify whether your most recent discectomy was at the same level and side as your original discectomy. If that was the case, it is generally expected that your recovery would be more prolonged compared to a discectomy performed at a level and side that had not been previously operated. Regardless, at 6 weeks post surgery it is not unusual to still have residual numbness. Numbness can sometimes persist for several months after a discectomy and in some can cases, some degree of numbness may be permanent. Your description of saddle numbness is not particularly specific especially in the context of otherwise improvement in lower extremity pain, strength, and numbness. If you experience, however, bowel or bladder dysfunction (such as incontinence or retention) or weakness in your legs that is worsening, you should report this to your surgeon ASAP. Otherwise, continue with PT and you will continue to make progress.

Good luck.
 
avatar
ocjlb replied to Rafael Levin, MD, MSc's response:
Thanks for all the replies. At this point, my "saddle" issues are gone and I definitely chalk them up to riding in a car for way too long. To answer a few questions, my 2nd discectomy was at the same level as my first. My numbness in my butt, thigh, and groin still persists. However, it does seem to be improving, albeit in small increments. However, progress is progress. Regarding urinary function, I have seen a urologist and had an invasive procedure done that basically indicated that all is well. For that, I am thankful. As a data point, my surgeon was extremely concerned about my numbness (especially in my groin area) pre-surgery and made room on his operating calendar to take me in 3 days after initially seeing him. However, I got the flu prior to surgery, so it was pushed out an extra 10 days.


Helpful Tips

Making the Most of Your Doctor Visit #2Expert
Here are the rest of the suggestions (had to break into to two parts due to the character limits) 5. Make sure that all records ... More
Was this Helpful?
29 of 43 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Spine Center