View Full Version : Second Microlumbar discectomy- Is there any hope for me?

Kate Deedrich
04-19-2012, 09:14 PM
My name is Kate, Iím 21 and this is my story. In December of 2008 I fell off my horse and herniated 2 discs. L4-L5 and L5-S1. I had severe lower back pain, sciatic pain, that aching, dull nerve pain, muscle tightness, numbness and tingling (only in my right leg). I got in touch with my orthopedic doctor. He took X-rays and diagnosed the condition. He first suggested I try rest. So I rested for 2 weeks with heat and ice, etc. It did not improve so the ortho then had me try 2 months of continued limited activity and physical therapy twice a week. I saw some improvement, but not much.
By now it was March of 2009. My ortho referred me to a pain management doctor. I had a spinal injection, which helped but symptoms returned by 8 weeks. I then had another injection, which relieved my pain for roughly 4 months. One sudden move caused a severe relapse. I again tried rest and stretching with no improvement. Unfortunately at this time my mother was in and out of the hospital with severe health problems and ended up having major surgery. Our family was so busy dealing with that, that I did not see a doctor for nearly 8 months. I donít know how I dealt with the pain for that long because I would rate it at 5 to 8 the entire 8 months. Once my mom was stable I saw my pain management doctor who referred me to a neurosurgeon.
I had an MRI done and my surgeon did a physical exam. By this time my nerve was irritated enough to cause some weakness in my right leg and foot. Never a huge amount, but it was noticeable. I had my first microdiscectomy at the L4-L5 level mid September 2010. I did not have symptoms related to the L5-S1 level so my surgeon did not want to go in at that level. My pain went away when I woke up from surgery. I had an easy 4 to 6 week recovery and went to my recheck feeling totally normal. I had no back problems other than the ocassional stiff muscles from September 2010 to Fall of 2011.
In July of 2011 I joined a Crossfit gym. I began working out 4-6 days a week. Other than avoiding heavy deadlifts I did things normally. Occasionally I would notice tight back muscles, but nothing big. I also began eating paleo and did a 30-day paleo challenge from late October to late November. I saw great weight loss and fitness improvement.
The last week of November I was working on my max clean (100lbs.) and I over-extended at the end of the clean. I further herniated my L5-S1 disc. I had horrible pain for a week. Then I was able to function, but will a decent amount of pain. I had lower back pain, sciatic pain (right leg) associated with that disc level and nerve pain that even ran along the top of my thigh. I would rate the pain from a 3 to a 6 depending. I scaled my workouts and even took some time off. I then began having muscle twitching in my right thigh and foot. I also developed tingling and numbness, but not too severe. I stopped working out the first week of January 2012. I had to wait 3 weeks to get see a Neurologist who did an MRI. I then returned to see my neurosurgeon after a month of waiting to get in with him.
He diagnosed me with a HUGE herniation at the L5-S1 level. The whole back of my disc blew out and the herniation was equally as large on the left and the right (I did not have symptoms on the left). He scheduled surgery for 5 weeks later. I had my second microdiscectomy, this time at the L5-S1 level, on March 15, 2012. He thought he might need to go into in on both sides of my spine, but he only went in on the right and was pretty confident he got it all. He did not want to go in to check on the left because of the risks. I am about 5 weeks post op and my recovery has not been going as well as I had hoped.
I just met with my neurosurgeon for my post op check. I have had fair amount of lower back pain as well as the aching, dull nerve pain (mostly on the right but some on the left leg) and numbness. The numbness has improved, but time will only tell if that is permanent. I also had a couple muscle twitching episodes in the past 2 weeks. My surgeon said it is inflammation from surgery and has put me on 2 to 4 weeks of 2 Aleve twice a day. I have been cleared for light exercise: walking, elliptical and some stretching. My surgeon does not think that CrossFit is something I should continue doing. He doesnít think I should do anything with weights, and he means long term. He said because I am 21 and have had 2 surgeries and a bad back that I should avoid those things to prevent the likelihood of chronic pain and/or more serious surgeries later.
I am so afraid of ending up with chronic pain and I donít know where to go from here. I want to take care of my back. I love Crossfit. It is like my religion. It has helped me deal with my life and depression. I couldnít imagine living without it. I LOVE weightlifting so I am so upset about that too. My surgeon is fairly young and I donít think he is being the old and conservative type. He seemed very honest about his concerns. He said if I do really well in 6 months to a year I could consider it.
I was thinking I would be returning to the gym 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. Not doing WODs but getting back into the groove. I am so devastated right now. I am scheduled to my surgeon in 3 months. I plan on eating 100% paleo between now and then and exercising on treadmill/elliptical (I may add in jump rope, rows, push-ups, etc in a month) until I see him. I have lost 35 pounds since joining CrossFit and I have about 60 more to lose so any weight I can lose will be beneficial for my back. If I still have symptoms when I return to see him then we may do another MRI and go from there. I hope thatís not the case but who knows. I have been dealing with this for nearly 3 and a half years and Iím really struggling physically and mentally.
I know any advice given here is just from experience and that disc problems vary drastically from person to person, but does anyone think I could get back into CrossFit and workout with some weights like I used to? Do I have to give up the one thing I love? My trainer thinks CrossFit would keep me fit and maintain muscular support for my spine. My surgeon thinks it is just an unnecessary risk. All comments welcome. Sorry for the long post, but with disc problems you have to know all the details.