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Had to lift after discectomy l4/l5 - did I do damage?

rolorrolo Posts: 52
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a l4/l5 discectomy just over 3 weeks ago. I was at a birthday party with my 40 pound 5 year old (with many other 5 year olds) at a bowling alley. Long story short, she was goofing off, the balls were coming out of the ball return, and i ran up, grabbed her and pulled her away. I probably moved her 4-5 feet in a slight twisting motion.
I did NOT feel any nerve pain when I did this, in fact I didn't really feel anything bad immediately. A sign that I didn't screw things up badly?
Over the next few hours the muscles got tighter and a little painful, but nothing horrible. I went home, iced, took anti-inflams and rested, felt pretty good.
Woke up this morning and not feeling horrible, but some of the reminders of nerve pain are back. Quick twinge or burn in the hip or calf, lil ankle weirdness - then it's gone for a bit. I am hoping this is muscle soreness/swelling and causing the minimal nerve pains that I feel.
I wanted to find out if people out there who have re-done damage to their disc or back can look at my story and see if they think I am going to go downhill from here as if I re herniated the disc. I don't think the disc issues are back, as I can do an ab crunch and not feel it down my leg - but things are definitely not the same since I did the lift yesterday.
Am I just getting a "you did too much" next-day warning and in a few days I should expect it to subside? Is this the beginning symptoms of all the sciatic pain coming back?
Anyone do something similar?
Ps - I know the only way to find out is to see the doctor, get an mri, etc, everyone is different. I understand that but am just sending out a feeler to get an idea how I should know for sure when to see a doc.


  • I sure hope you didn't do anything to damage your spine. I'd be sure to report this to the surgeon or doctor and get it checked out.
  • You probably didn't feel it at first because of the adrenaline rush you got fearing that your child would be hurt. It's a parents' instinct and no amount of pain can prevent us from protecting our children. I hope it's just because of the quick motion, movement and twisting that you are having a flare up and it will pass with rest, ice and pain meds. However, if you continue to feel more pain or nerve issues I would call your surgeon. As Nicole said, you may want to call your surgeon just to report this to them and have them document this in your file. Then the doc can decide whether or not you should be seen.

    I pray you didn't not do any harm to yourself and that you will heal with time. Keep us updated on this.
  • If it isn't better in a few days call the doctor. I accidentally forgot about my L4/L5 fusion a few weeks after surgery and lifted my German Shepherd into the truck and I was fine. Not smart but fine. I hope the same for you, be careful.
  • Do you recall having a sore back or nerve pain after lifting your dog?
    I am doing 'ok' today. I did a one hour drive to a play, sat for close to two hours, had a near 2 hour supper, then drove back home for an hour. Not much nerve pain, no pain when sitting at all, and am icing now with minimal back soreness and just a minor off and on calf twinge. I will keep you posted, but nothing alarming today so I am hopeful this flared me up and will pass. Plllllllleeeeeeeeeeeasssseeeeeeeeee!
  • Its amazing how badly we DON'T want that awful nerve pain to come back! I think you'll be fine. Minor twinges are possibly just the nerve getting back to normal...it can take awhile. Try not to worry too much, and remember not to sit for too terribly long.
  • More than likely you are fine. I heard that it's the first two weeks that you have to extra careful...not to say that you shouldn't follow your doctor's order and still be careful.

    I know exactly what you are going through. When I tripped over my husband's work bag and sneezed for three days, I was worried.

    Try not to think about "what if" until you see or talk to your doctor. It's easier said than done. I worry.

    Hoping for the best!
  • Thank you for your words and wishes. I will let you know if things get better or worse soon.
  • 2 Days after "The Lift" - not feeling horrible but still feeling the quick flare ups in the calf and ankle mostly, comes and goes fast. Did a long walk without pain, and icing now. Not feeling very positive even though pain is minimal. I feel like it should be better now. Overly high expectations I presume.
  • Probably you have just suffered a setback. You were moving along on the healing path. Then you did something that has caused a bit of a flare-up which no doubt has caused some inflammation. It will take a little while for this to calm down, and then, hopefully, you will continue on down that path to a full recovery.

    Try not to worry. Continue walking and being mindful of practicing good body mechanics...and, try to be positive and patient...the two most important qualities for a complete recovery!!
  • I left a message for the Doctor just in case he wants to see me or do something about it.
  • That's what I did and they gave me a prednisone pack to get the inflammation down. I had a bad episode trying to get out of my car and my symptoms are better but I have some new symptoms and I am afraid I need an MRI to make sure I didn't injure anything 7 weeks post surgery. I had a lightning bolt shock of horrific proportions and I think you said you didn't have any immediate symptoms so I would think you are okay. Better safe than sorry though.

  • Ya no lightning shocks, just dull aching and the feeling
    of a light tourniquet on my leg. when i do a leg lift, or a crunch, or anything that used to cause me pain down my leg, I feel nothing.
    I hope you work out well, too.
  • Did the prednasolone help for a week or two then it all came back? I understand that it can help with inflammation but if the source of inflammation is a disc or something that doesn't change during the prednisolone, then it will come back again.
  • Are you doing crunches and leg lifts now that you have had surgery?
  • I am still having some symptoms from the "episode" to a lesser degree though. I am pretty worried like you.
  • I did a few just to see if the nerve pain went down my leg. Those were a few of the exercises that shot pain down my leg. Crunches, sit ups, straight leg lifts, etc.
    I did not get the pains down my leg when I did these, which I believe is a good sign that the disc is not ruptured again. I am just unsure what is causing the nerve pains, even tho they aren't strong pains at the moment. Still holding out hope it's from the muscles getting inflammed and the nerve too. Time will tell - trying to stay positive but when you were perfect for 3 weeks and you feel the 'same old pains' starting to come back you get very frightened :(
    Still no call back from the Doc - not surprising...that's why we use these forums! :)
  • When I talk to him I will tell him I want to be sure that the disc/issue is ok (ask for an mri) and ask for something to reduce the inflammation for now.
  • The Dr's assistant called back after speaking to my Surgeon and she said I can go in Wednesday. More info then!
  • Don't worry about feeling like a pest. You need some answers (me too) and they should be prepared for this type of situation and respond accordingly (responsibly). I will only feel better having some sort of diagnostic imaging and I'm sure you will too.

    Take it easy!
  • I still haven't heard from anyone who lifted 40 or so pounds and had a setback. One person lifted a German Shepherd and felt fine, but has anyone lifted and got the setback from that? If so, was it IMMEDIATE or did it slowly go down hill over time (and how much time)?
  • So here I am, sitting up on the edge of a bed, typing and working for the last few hours on a laptop on a laptop stand, and have had NO pains or twinges of any kind. You'd think it would be getting worse while sitting if it were a disc. I am thinking positive that it's just a flare up more than ever now (of course, I already made the Drs appt - it HAS to get better!) :)
  • Things are getting worse. When I cough, I feel the nerve pain down my leg. Tighten the stomach at all, nerve pain down the leg. :( I don;t see my surgeon until Wed, it's going to be a long couple of days.
  • Just hang in there and try to focus on something else. It's possible you are having issues with tight muscles from stressing out over the "what if's". Hopefully, it's just something that simple and you will feel more at ease after your appt on Wednesday. If the pain gets to be too bad that you can't tolerate you should see if you can get in sooner or go to ER. What have you been doing since you lifted that weight? Have you been icing and resting and taking your medication on the regular schedule. I'm not sure what to tell you to try to keep your mind off the possibility of something going wrong and try to think of something positive. I hope you feel better soon.
  • I have been resting, walking, icing...and stressing :)
    Feel good now... it's undoubtedly an irritated nerve - questions is *what* is irritating it :)
    I have stopped the stomach tightening test too :)
  • I think that's what got me. I heard a "pop" in my hip while trying to get out of my darn car AFTER my PT appointment. My hips are surely out of wack due to my constant limp of over a year and sedentary lifestyle due to my condition.

    Could your hips be unstable?
  • Like Ming said. Ice is your best friend!
  • I can make the pain happen with a stomach tightening so i dont think its the pirformis. I stop the tightening of the stomach and i am fine
  • I was a little sore and had irritation but nothing too bad. I was already on Lyrica so I am not sure if the dog lift made it worse or not. I have had no long term problems from it and I have lifted my all 4 of my German Shepherds in the last months. I don't think it's any worse than using a vacuum! I had my 360 fusion and ADR in November of 2008 so it has been almost 5 months. I feel great and dont have any restrictions. I am back at work and I am not taking any back related medication. I wish the same for all of us and I am happy to hear you are feeling better and going to see the doctor. Best Wishes on a complete recovery.
  • Thanks again folks. Slept pain free, feel pain free this am, and not going to "test" the nerve this am with a crunch or leg lift. I am sure the Doc sill do that today - my appt is 1:15pm EDT. Will let you know how it goes.
    I am greatly appreciative of my friends here on spine health. Your kind words and stories have certainly helped me set my mind at ease (or at least better than it would have been were I alone) :)
  • The problem with an irritated nerve is that it doesn't seem to take much to set it off again. You were just starting to get your body to calm down from the surgery, which was less than a month ago...just to remind you!! Then you had this happen and it caused a flare in the nerve again....But if you are careful, it will calm down once again and if you can keep other things from aggravating it, you will eventually heal...and will then not have to be quite so aware of your back.

    At least I hope that's all it is!! One never knows. I'll be eager to see what your surgeon thinks. Good luck today.
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