Microdiscectomy Recovery at One Year

by Mary on November 6, 2017

What a difference a year makes! A year ago I was lying flat after my back surgery: today I’m back on the ice and working on my new dance program. I’m grateful for having had a great medical team. Access to that kind of care is not given to everyone in this country and that needs to change.

The best success rate is with back surgery to fix an obvious structural issue that can be seen on imaging and that has matching symptoms. Mine was in that category. The surgery took the pressure off of a compressed nerve to allow it the chance to heal.

One of the reasons I had the surgery was to recover strength and coordination in my left leg. The motion of flexing the foot was weaker on the left side. It wasn’t dramatic, but it was enough to make me trip over the foot at times, stumble on steps, and be unable to figure skate.

The spinal nerves can keep recovering for a year to a year and a half after pressure is taken off of them, as it was with my L4/L5 and L5/S1 microdiscectomy and microdecompression. I’ve seen continuous improvement so far. It was really obvious in the early months and more subtle lately.

Look at what I can do now:

And compare it to a year ago, about a week after my surgery:

I’d call that a real success! The left foot has been about as strong as the right for months now.

I’m not sure whether the fine quivering, called fasciculations, down through my left hip will completely resolve. That can be a sign of nerve injury or a sign of nerve healing in progress. For a long time I thought it wasn’t changing, but it has been, just incredibly slowly. Before my surgery it disturbed my sleep but now it never does. It’s so minor that I have to be at rest to notice it.

I’m still working on my hip strength on the left side. It’s within the realm of normal but not as strong as my right side. That causes some issues with my stability and knees. Maybe I’ll let you know how those lingering issues are doing in another six months.

I’m thankful for my sports medicine doctor, physiatrist, surgeon, and my PTs Valerie and Virginia. Let’s do what we can to deliver the good, comprehensive care that I received to everyone.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Eva at Eva Bakes November 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm

This makes me so happy, Mary. I’m thrilled that you’re back on the ice and making a great recovery from surgery! Hope to see you again soon!
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Mary November 9, 2017 at 2:31 am

Aw, thanks Eva!


Kimberly G November 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

So happy to read this and that you have had a good recovery!
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Mary November 9, 2017 at 2:32 am

Thanks Kim!


Jo November 8, 2017 at 12:30 am

So excited about this wonderful recovery, Mary! I’m sure you notice the difference on the ice through these past few months–that increased strength and balance is key to really feeling good. Here’s to full strength soon–hip hip hooray!
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Mary November 9, 2017 at 2:34 am

Thank you Jo. Yes it was great to feel secure on the ice again. After taking a break the past several months from working on the hip strength I’m back at it, so hopefully I’ll have progress to report there before long.


George A November 8, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Great news Mary! Keep us updated as you continue to progress.


Mary November 9, 2017 at 2:34 am

Thank you George!


Melissa November 9, 2017 at 11:39 pm

Wonderful news! Back surgery doesn’t always have such great outcomes. I am so glad you’re one of the success stories. Here’s to the next 6 months bringing even more good news. Very inspiring…


Mary November 10, 2017 at 4:59 am

It doesn’t, though microdiscectomy has a far better success rate than fusion. Thanks Melissa! I appreciate your support and encouragement.


Marcia November 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

You’ve made great progress over the course of the year! I’m so glad you are able to be on the ice again!
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Mary November 10, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Thanks, Marcia, yes, I’m so glad for that.


Nicole November 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Yey! I’m so happy to hear you’ve made so much progress!
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Mary November 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Thanks Nicole! Me too!


Chrissy November 10, 2017 at 10:51 pm

I’m so glad you’ve seen such great improvement in the year’s time span!


Mary November 14, 2017 at 12:36 am

Thank you Chrissy, and thanks for stopping by and commenting!


Rachel Frutkin November 11, 2017 at 1:52 am

What a difference a year makes! So happy for you!!
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Mary November 12, 2017 at 3:39 am

Thanks, Rachel!


Deborah Brooks November 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm

It’s fabulous to hear that you have made so much recovery and gained back quite a bit of strength already!
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Mary November 12, 2017 at 3:31 am

Thanks Deborah! It’s happy news to be able to share!


Angela Cardamone November 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Great news! I’m so glad your recovery has gone well!!


Mary November 12, 2017 at 3:35 am

Thanks Angela! It’s been a blessing for sure allowing me to participate in many activities that I love and do things with my friends.


TOni November 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm

This is great! I am glad you recovered so well.
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Mary November 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Thank you Toni.


Rafal March 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm

When did you start feeling power increase of peroneus muscles ? I Have the same issue with right foot :/ almost 4 weeks post-op and no significant improvements so far (except pain which is completely gone and foot rising – which can be lifted much higher than it was before surgery)

greetings from Warsaw/PL


Mary April 4, 2019 at 1:00 am

Hi. I wasn’t sure for the first month whether the surgery had worked because I didn’t notice any difference in pain or function. I had read that some people see an immediate difference so I felt concerned and stressed about it. Over the months I gradually did get an improvement in foot function until it was basically normal, and the pain subsided. I don’t know that I specifically noticed the peroneus muscle function– for me the ability to lift the foot and the pain were the main problems. I think you have some very good signs of healing happening with the pain gone and the foot able to rise much higher.


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