ZocdocAnswersDid my discectomy fail?

Question

Did my discectomy fail?

I am a woman in my mid-twenties. I had a discectomy and laminectomy about five days ago. The surgeon told my family it was a complete success, but my leg still hurts like it did prior to the surgery. Did my discectomy fail? When will I know if it succeeded or not?

Answer

It sounds like you had a pretty extensive back surgery, so congratulations on making it through the procedure uneventfully! Most of the time, procedures like this are done where there is severe back pain that doesn't respond to less aggressive treatments, like pain medications and physical therapy. Therefore, by the time that surgery is resorted to, there can be fairly significant, long standing inflammation and compression of nerve roots coming off of the spinal column. Although back surgeries, such as the one you just had, are designed to relieve this compression, the swelling and damage to the nerve root can persist for quite a while. Gradually, however, if the surgery was successful, this swelling should go down and there should be an improvement in the pain and other symptoms. I suggest that you talk with the orthopedic doctor who performed the surgery. They know your case best, and will be able to give you a better sense of what your post operative course should be like, including when you might start to expect to experience some improvement in your symptoms. They will also be able to help you with any component of the pain that might be from the surgery itself.

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