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Horrible Pain! What did I do?

buckeyebackbbuckeyeback Posts: 384
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
As you know, I had a 2 level micro-d to shave the bulging discs and to remove some bone spurs which were entrapping my nerve roots at L3/L4 and L4/L5 on the left side of my spine. Today I am 1 day shy of 7 weeks post-op and I was getting out of the car (moving forward, facing the door after pivoting)after PT and I felt a horrible shooting pain down my left leg after something that seemed like my hip popped. My left foot turned to the right as the muscle contracted heavily when the electrical shock happened!!! I quickly slumped back in the seat then tried again, same thing happened. I took a different approach and finally was able to get out. I know I bend forward a little to get out but only a little. I could walk but my shin, thigh, hip mand lower lumbar all started aching. I immediately took some voltaren, a percocet and iced my lower back while laying down. Of course, I couldn't reach my surgeon or his nurse so I called my physical therapist and he told me, as long as I am not feeling any new numbness or having a bowl/bladder problem, no need to go to ER. He said to take meds and lay down, no exercises for a couple days (ive been level 1 so far because my symptoms were not getting better yet). I called my GP and she said basically the same thing and dismissed it as a "tweak" type episode. I've had tweaks before all over my body and they never felt like that!

I'm feeling better (with meds) and no new numbnesses (which I assume, is good) but my shin muscle is very sore.

Could have just dislocated my hip for a second which is why the shock stopped when I repositioned??? I felt a sort of pop in the hip too. OR did I just screw up my disc at L4/L5?

Could the sciatic nerve could be getting pinched at the hip possibly?

I've never felt an electrical pain like that before from hip down too the foot that would cause a foot muscle spasm!!!

What do you think? I see my surgeon on the 6th and I hope he will order an MRI to make sure everything is okay.

Thanks for reading my long post and for any advice.


  • If i was you i would get to surgeon asap. Pain from hip to foot sounds like satic.AS for the musclespasm in foot i have no idea. When i ruptured l5-s1 i could draw a line from my hip to my ankle that felt like a knife had been pushed in at hip and drug down to to ankle.Maybe your hip poped and the muscles relaxed causeing you nerve to get pinched. I was always toldby surgeon if pain in the legg return contact me asap. I hope its just swelling,get better
  • Yeah, I didn't get that knife pain, more a heavy electrical shock that definitely gave me a horrible spasm. My body is out of wack because I haven't been able to exercise at all for over a year. My hamstrings are so tight that the therapist can't lift my left leg more than about 30 degrees before I can feel the stretch. Maybe just a hip thing. I hope!

    As long as I don't have any new, persistent neurological symptoms like numbnesses I think I will just have to let things calm down and not move very much till I see the surgeon and he can order the MRI.

    It sux not being able to reach anyone at the doctors office. It's business I guess.

    Thanks for your reply!
  • Seeing your doctor or getting ahold of someone in the office explaining what happened is the best course of action. Not sure if you asked your PT what the possible reaction was that caused your hip to pop and create a muscle cramp in your foot.
    However I can relate to the sore shin, popping hip and cramping foot. For me its a daily thing since my fusion. I might get a sharp pain for just a moment if I move the wrong way (which I assume my body is telling me "no, not that direction try again, a different way". But I always as my physical therapists if I cant reach my Nuero. Luckily they work in the same office and he can track my NS quicker than I can. Seven weeks out as you know is still fresh out of surgery and inflamation can do these things as Im sure we all know a little too well. My foot will actually lock into place, I will feel something high in my hip it skips most of the leg and then locks my foot into place and let me tell you that will make the shin very sore. They have put me on a muscle relaxer as the PT got more aggressive my muscles were knotting up as they tried to get stronger after a lengthy period of atrophy. The relaxer has helped the foot cramp, shin and calf soreness so far. The pop in my hip, is caused by a tendon that runs across the hip bone and makes a popping sound, like two rocks hitting each other its not actually my joint although it sure sounds like it.
    Talk to your doctor, and keep icing it down to keep the inflamation down. Best of wishes and keep us posted on what the doc has to say
  • wouldn't my back be spasming???

    Currently back feels fine. My thigh and shin ache. Hmmm.....
  • I cant say whether or not the lack of spasm in your back means nothing happened in your back and of course I hope its not! I have had similar and the leg cramping has been somewhere between a dull ache to a sharper ache like a shin splint. Mine has been more of the direct result of muscle cramping, and knotting than anything coming from my back. Your surgeon and physical therapists should have better answers and will pray it was just one of those things that happens after surgery thats temporary and non back related

  • It seems to me, more and more, that it was my hip rather than my back. (fingers crossed) since my lower lumbar feels okay and I don't have any new numbness or tingling from that episode. I'm glad you can empathize with me and confirm my theory a little bit. Ultimately an MRI will be taken and rule out anything else. I'll do anything to avoid that shooting pain again!!! I'll have to try getting in/out of my car a bit differently now.

    I'm scared of my car! How hilarious/rediculious is that!
  • I hope you are right. I'm awful worried though because I am 7 weeks post-op and NOW I get that horrid shooting pain? I'm hoping for the best but in the back of my mind I am preparing for the worst. Ugh!
  • Whenever I was reading your first post my mind started wandering to thoughts of my own experiences-to see if I could help you with yours-and though I've never had spinal surgery I actually did start thinking tendon,and muscle..but mostly tendon--before I read you mention your hamstring.

    You mentioned how tight your hamstring is and that you can't bend beyond a 30* angle-this is in PT.Now THIS is something I have a lot of experience in..wow.I think that you should contact your surgeon of course because of your surgery and all that that implies,but if this were your hamstring it would more than likely be pretty unbearable if it were torn or pulled.Those are just so painful...but still,tendon did pop into my head when first reading your post.Not that that means anything other than now I'm really curious as to what it is exactly that caused this.

    I'm sorry about going on & on here--I just get curious sometimes when I read these sypmtoms.You know-my tendons & muscles are really tight too and I have a lot of issues there.You say that you cannot excercise,but do they have a hot tub or whirlpool at your PT? Whenever I went,the ROM excercises I did in the warm water were great.I can do some for up to 10 minutes after a hot shower too,but then my muscles start to cool down and tighten up..it's like I'm made of cement then..lol.

    I hope everythings ok.
  • He is a colleague of my surgeon who did my surgery. Why aren't you seeing him, you ask? He's out of the office/town until Monday when I had my scheduled appointment. Of course he is,...LOL! Anyway I have to get the ball rolling for an MRI based upon how I am feeling today (calf/shin squeezing, burning pain and heavy slow feeling in my left foot). I have not felt that bad even before my surgery. I hate to think that I did something to ruin the "shaved disks". I can't imagine that it could be anything else at this point and I need to get some medical care and some answers. :(

    Thanks for listening...
  • Is this heaviness in your foot-is this new since you injured yourself? If so it really does sound like..well I should really hush up,I'm no Dr-lol,but what lifts your foot,muscles & tendons right? I mean-it could be.I know the popping I have is a tendon rubbing across my bone-and whenever that happens it's pretty painful.Today I'm having the heaviness and pain in my left arm/shoulder because I have these issues with it frequently.I need surgery on it I imagine in time,but I'm in no hurry.

    Anyway-I hope that this isn't serious & that you keep us posted.Be careful and be safe.
  • Okay,.....so I explained what happened and the Neurologist told me that it could be a "flare up" of the sciatic nerve that was already inflammed from moving around in PT and from the surgery still OR could be something new like a new disk issue. Either of the two could've been caused from getting out of the car while bending and/or twisting a little while the nerve is irritated. He thought it was best to hit it with a "bazooka" pack (that's what I call it) of Prednisone (oral steroid) for 6 days then if it doesn't calm down significantly an MRI will be in order. He said an MRI right now wouldn't do much good this soon after surgery with all the inflammation that is present. I could walk on my toes and heels but had staright leg positive on the affected leg. He commented on how tight my hamstrings are too (well,...it's been a year of hardly sitting and NO exercise so yeah). I see my Neuro on the 13th and after he hears about the episode I had, I don't think it will be hard to get an MRI just to make sure everything is okay before getting more aggressive with PT.

    If I could get to a point of low or now pain I could start to rebuild my core and finally right this ship, that is, my body!

    Any experiences with lightning bolt "flare ups" like mine that turned out to be nothing serious?
  • The heaviness isn't bad. I can walk on my toes and heels, but "heaviness" is how I explain how it feels. Maybe more of an all wrapped up mild squeezing sensation. I dunno, it's all so subjective. I can walk without any footdrop that I notice so I think there's still a chance that it may be a "flare up." The tight squeezing pain around my calf and shin is what concerns me at this point.

    Thanks for replying and I hope you can get your cervical issues resolved soon. Is ADR a possibility or maybe just a micro-d?

  • I hope the Medrol pack works for you.I think that you are having muscle issues.Getting in and out of a car is the most
    feared thing for me.I was immobilized for about seven months.
    Could not lift my legs even at 20 degrees because of tight
    hamstrings.Right calf smaller than left one by 2 inches.
    Gluteal muscles were mess,and causing hip pain that was taking
    my breath.I started PT last July.Slowly and painfully,but surely I am getting better.You have a lot of work ahead of you.Patience and persistence are the magic words.
    I am doing this with three bad discs,and one that was destroyed by a post op infection.See what the Medrol does and keep working with the therapist.Have the MRI to rule out your fears.You will get there.It just takes time.

  • ive had no lightningstrikes but about aweek after l5-s1 i had intence burning in my foot and back calfturned out to be sweeling. I do still have foot drop due to the damage done upon rupture.But my strength comes and goes the surgeon and pt felt this was nothing to worry about. Hope it was just a flare up. Use ice alot i do and it helps. I also hate low cars now.have a good one
  • for your words of encouragement. Your experience makes me think that the neuro could be right about this being a "flare up" due to many other factors like you have stated.

    Good luck to you with your therapy!
  • I walked out to the garage and looked at my car thinking,...here we go again, today. I was really worried about getting in and out but I just took my time and REALLY made sure my spine was neutral doing both tasks. You are right about ice too. I'm rotating two gelpacks off and on so I can get the inflammation out of there.

    I ultimately think I got off all meds too soon. I got off the Voltaren (which wasn't actually prescribed but okay'd by the surgeon) and took the percocet only once a day. My theory was that not only would I minimize any addictive side effects, I would heal better since theoretically healing needs inflammation (too much internet surfing). Well I think after a week of that, my nerve was inflammed enough in the foraminal space along with all the other inflammed tissue that when I twisted trying to turn my lower body toward the door (a little carelessly) the nerve got "pinched" by the structures in the spine with everything being "puffed" up so to speak. That's one theory the neuro presented. Makes sense to me. I'm praying that's what it is anyway. :)

    No more trying to heal faster....I'm sticking with the plan. Thanks for sharing your experience, Magnum.

    I hope your foot drop gets better. Hopefully the nerves are still healing and someday you'll get the benefits of it.
  • thanks for the well wishes. MY footdrop now is a 4 instead of a 0 1 so it has gotten alot better. I had a hard time getting in and out of my hoda passport to low i took my 97 chevy for a while after that. WEll continue to get well I am. May all get well
  • My left calf (lateral) is throbbing still and both feet burn at the bottoms of them when I lay down. Is that a sign of healing? That is a new symptom at least on the right foot since my surgery was left side of the spine except for the bone spurs that were removed on both sides of my spinal cord. Standing I don't notice the burning pain,..hmmmm. Overall, I've managed my pain levels down to about a 4 so far. Which is better than the 8-10 I was feeling before getting on the steroids. My left big toe numbing sensation is receeding some also (I had that before surgery and it came back when I got the lightning bolt "flare-up" the other day). I am hopeful that this episode was just a "flare-up" but my gut tells me there could be some more damage. I just hope it is minimal and that if I have to have a repeat surgery, I will ultimately get better for good. :)

    Eager for my follow-up and MRI!

    Thanks for listening.
  • I had the lightning bolt pains before my surgery (and a little bit afterwards) but they are mostly gone now. I couldn't walk ten feet without huge jolts of pain. Now I seem to be stabilized enough to prevent those. I'm having some nerve pain flare-ups, but nothing too bad. I hope the Medrol pack helps. I found them beneficial before surgery.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • The Prednisone isn't working as well as I expected but what is lately..... This problem is testing my resolve. It must be some sort of lesson I have to learn in my life. Why doesn't my body just friggin heal??? I'm counting down the days before my followup appointment so I can get that MRI and see just what the hell is wrong with me now. It seems as though once you start down this damn road there are no detours. Maybe I'm reading this message board too much....LOL. Sorry, I'm just frustratedbeing caught up in the healthcare system now. I should count my blessings instead. At least I can walk when I have to. #:S

    GL all.
  • I've begun calling myself Roseanne Roseannadanna. Like Gilda Radner used to say -- "it's always something - If it's not one thing it's another!" Just when you start to feel better, you get knocked back. I do hope It was just a freak spasm that will eventually let you go and will cause you no further trouble. I guess we both know that the likelihood that is the issue is slim. At any rate, I hope you get to feeling better with minimal effort. Are you icing? Are you taking a muscle relaxant? Those things may help.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Too late now! I am iceing and taking prednisone and more percocet than I was before the "episode."

    Can nerve inflammation/pain travel from one side to the other? I don't understand why my right foot has burning sensations on the bottom that I ONLY notice when laying down. Otherwise the right side of my body is okay. Wierd.

    What did it feel like when you ruptured those discs? Did you have instant numbness?

    Thanks Linda.

  • Feeling a little better but am now having quite a bit of left hip pain along with the big toe tingling numbness on the left leg. I think my hips are so out of wack that they are contributing to my symptoms and problems with sciatic nerve. I will mention that to the Dr. My appointment is on 4/13. Cannot wait!
  • seeing a chiropractor to set your hips straight? It helps me quite a bit to relieve pressure I feel when I am out of whack.
  • just not sure how long is safe to wait after surgery to be manually manipulated. Hmmm. Have to ask my surgeon about that. Thanks!
  • The chiro will absolutely need to understand your condition and your doctor will need to OK everything. Sometimes a simple drop table move will re-align your hips.

    Good Luck
  • Oh,PLEASE talk to your Dr before going to a chiropractor.The pain in your hips could be referred pain,or it could be that you are overcompensating and causing new pain.

    Some people do get pain in their feet only when they are OFF of them,like when they go to bed.I never understood that,but I've heard a lot of people mention it..and I've talked to a LOT of people about foot pain,as I've had 7 foot operations and talked in the waiting room at my OS's office in Pittsburgh.To those who only had pain when they were off of their feet my thoughts were always the same:I'd just stand 24/7 ..lol.Kidding.But there were times I would have given anything for my foot pain to quit-that was before all of this other pain.Now I sometimes forget my feet.Not often,but sometimes.

    I'm sorry that you are still suffering...maybe you should call your surgeon? Or is that who gave you the prednisone?
    Does he know about the feet and hip pain? Sorry about the questions-I hope you are feeling better today!

    Have you ever tried lidoderm patches..I put them on my feet sometimes,but I can only put them on at bedtimes because I can't walk with them on.My feet are well,it's complicated,but I simply can't walk at all with the patches on.They DO help the pain in bed though.Before I had the ESI in my hip,I put the patches on my there too..but you can only use 3 patches at a time for 12 hrs,then take them off for 12 hrs before using more.
  • I hope everything is okay with your back. I have had a horrible recovery and just had a repeat MRI yesterday. I called and called because I knew something wasn't right.

    Listen to yourself and if you think something isn't right, get it checked out. I'm glad I pushed the MRI, I have two more large herniated discs. I'd skip the chiro.
  • Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate them all!

    I will wait an discuss the chiro with my surgeon before doing anything. Thanks for your concern there. Your right about overcompensating but I've been doing that for over a year and I think my whole pelvis/hamstrings/hips are a MESS. Hence the sciatic "episode" I had feeling my hip "pop". I think an MR Neurography could be in order to see if my nerve roots are inflammed or my sacral plexis (by nerve bundle in pelvis) is being pinched and is inflammed. Either way,..I'm not leaving my surgeons office without some order for diagnostic imaging,...I'm almost 2 months post and not feeling better and in some cases worse.

    My surgeons office is difficult to reach. I left a VM message with my surgeons personal nurse at the office of Monday and NEVER heard back from them. Disappointing. You can bet,....I'll mention it though! X(

    Sorry to hear you are in so much pain with your hips and feet. :(

    I hope today is a better day for you too!!!
  • Sorry to hear about your new MRI results! Damn these spines! Why are we so damn fragile???

    No Chiro, going to PT today. First time since the "lightning bolt" episode where I hurt myself. UGH!

    I hope you can find some relief with your neck. >:D<
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