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PM Appt

eajosepheeajoseph Posts: 315
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Lower Back Pain
I went to the PM's office today. She said that at this point most people are not having spasms like I am. She upped the dosage on my Percocet and outfitted me with a TENS unit. She said that recovery could take up to a year. And that many people have had good response to the TENS. She was very firm on the one year recovery position.

All I want to know is why the he!! was I told 3 to 6 months for recovery. Will the TENS help? I know only time will tell but I'm a bit frustrated as well that this wasn't offered sooner. I've been dealing with movements suddenly setting off spasms that leave me in tears.

I see my neurosurgeon in about a month. I hope he can give me some answers about all of this. Honestly, right now I don't notice a lot of improve from pre-surgical. I'm praying the TENS helps.


  • All the time lines that patients are given are based on averages, just as the "success rates" are also based on statistics. Also, I think many surgeons err on the side of being overly optimistic in the time frame they tell their perspective surgical candidates. Some people are back on their feet and back to work within the time frame you were given (3-6 months)...but some are not...and a few patients end up worse off than before they had surgery. Unfortunately there is no way to predict ahead of time what the outcome will be for anyone.

    Also, what you have been told is not really contradictory. Many surgeons do not worry about the outcome of a surgery until after the one year mark has passed. Patients are told that they will not be solidly fused for a year, even though signs of bone growth are often seen much earlier. In the case of trying to assess nerve damage, it can take 18 months or even longer to determine if a nerve will recover, or not.

    You are right. All of this is VERY frustrating. Surgeons really do their patients a disservice if all of this is not made clear prior to deciding whether to have surgery, or not.

    TENS are generally not used early in recovery. I know it seems like you have been recovering for ages, but as things go, it really has not been that long...about 9 weeks, right? That is really very early for a big surgery such as you have had.

    I don't know about the spasms you are having, so I'm afraid I cannot comment on that. I wouldn't think that a TENS unit would help in regard to muscle spasms. The theory behind a TENS unit is to stimulate the nerve and interrupt the pain message traveling between the brain and the nerve. It is used for pain relief. I would think they would want to find the cause of your muscle spasms and get them to stop rather than treating the pain that comes from the spasms...but then, what do I know?? In any case, a TENS unit is not generally among the first things that will be tried when a patient is experiencing pain. It is often introduced during physical therapy.

    I am sorry you are so frustrated. Perhaps you could call your surgeon ahead of your appointment and let him know how you are feeling, or go in to see him sooner.

  • I have a TENS unit and have used it every single day since I got it in October. It provides just enough pain relief so that I can survive a day at work. (I run it constant all day.) If it wasn't for the TENS I would be screwed.

    I know that it works on the nerves but it definitely affects the muscles as well. I hope it works well for you, I love my TENS, couldn't survive without it!
  • They told me to use the TENS 30 to 60 minutes a day. I didn't know you could use it all day. After the first use the areas (low back, thighs, and calves) were not very happy after 30 minutes. And this was using a setting of 3. *sigh* Each area is done separately so that's 1.5 hours plus two hours of bone stim every day. I'm electrifying I guess. :))(

    I'm tired of total strangers telling me that I look like I'm in a lot of pain. Because of the pain, I don't do much with my hair (I have a low maintenance cut for this reason) or put on makeup often. Sure that doesn't help.
  • Well they did say to go an hour or two then shut the unit off as your body becomes accustomed to the electrical impulses -- the effects should last for quite a while after turning it off. They told me to experiment though, as far as intensity, program, pad placement and duration.

    Immediately after I shut it off my pain is back so I just leave it running. I mentioned this to the sales rep and docs and they say there is no problem.
  • Has anyone ever felt worse after using the TENS unit?? I'm doing 3ma for 30 minutes and feel so much worse when I move or walk upstairs that I get near tears. I know I just started using the unit. Maybe I need to give it more time or maybe I Should turn it down to 2 or 1 tomorrow night and see what happens.

    Glad all day use helps you Jay.
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