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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey all!

I've been reading this forum for quite some time, but I haven't had the strong need to post until now. I injured my lower back in 12/07. I was able to get by for a few months, but then started the Chiro/Therapy/NSAID's treatment until February of this year. I was at the gym and lifted the wrong way. Pain shot through my entire back and legs. I was on bed rest for a few days until I got my MRI, which showed a severe herniation at the L4/L5. I had my Microdiscectomy on 2/24/09, which helped out a lot. I was out and about within 2 days. I started going back to the gym about 4 weeks later - not lifting anything over 20lbs, and everything was done from a seated position (just as long as my body permitted it). Mainly, I just did cardio to avoid the scar tissue.
Now, I'm almost 5 months post-op, and I've got some serious pain. I've got lower back pain, pain in the upper right buttock, nerve pain in my legs, and foot numbness. Now, I saw the doctor about 4-5 weeks after my surgery and he said the pain I had at that time (pretty much felt like it was a band of pain at my lower back) was all mechanical and it was normal. I started overcompensating while walking, and that gave me severe muscle tension. PT relieved that tension and I thought I was finally on the road to improve!
Today, it hurts to get out of bed. I can't walk for more than a few hundred feet, or stand for longer than a few moments before either (a.) blinding pain from my right buttock down to my calf, or (b.) numbness sets in in my right foot. The numbness is new and was not present before the surgery.
I haven't been back to my doctor yet, because it is tough to see him. Plus, I already used by Short Term Disability from work, and not sure if I could get any additional time if additional surgery needs to be done.
So, I was hoping someone else experienced something like this that could give me advise. I understand that the healing is a long process, but some of these things are starting to worry me to the point where I can't sleep at night. I guess I would like to know if this is normal, or if additional surgery would need to be done.

Thank you in advance for any comments!!


  • You would need to have a new MRI to be able to tell if you have reherniated a disc or if something else is going on.

    The pain you describe sounds typical of a radicular pain that comes from a lumbar nerve compression. I have nerve problems at the L4-5 level, too so can totally relate to the pain you speak of.

    I would suggest you call the surgeon and discuss it with him. He may want to order a round of oral steroids or have an epidural steroid injection done. If inflammation is causing the nerve compression, this would bring it down.

    If there is a reason why you do not want to see this doctor again, make an appointment with a different specialist. Generally speaking, when the foot is starting to go numb, the nerve is being more compressed. In my experience,(and take it for what its worth!!) this does not go away on its own. For this reason, I think you will need to be seen again by a specialist, at some point in the future.

    Please be very careful with any activities involving bending, twisting, reaching overhead or lifting anything "too heavy."

    Please post often with your comments and questions. There are many generous people on this board who are happy to share their experiences and knowledge.

    Hope you feel better in the very near future!

    xx Gwennie
  • I agree with gwennie 17. Being careful with your exercise is crucial!

    I have bulging discs in my L5 and L4. They can really get at me when I do things wrong. I hope to not anger them so I never need to have surgery on them. I'm having a 3 level cervical fusion July 27th so I'm reading all I can in this forum.

    Your situation caught my eye. I've been a fitness trainer for 4o years and see people after they have different surgeries so I wondered what type of aerobics you were doing. I'm hoping it was all low impact. I've had to encourage people in my classes to keep it down or suggest they go to the gym and walk on the treadmill when I know they've had surgery.

    I agree with getting another MRI if you can to see what's up. Until then staying away from high impact and working with your PT is the best way to go. Maybe using elastic bands instead of the weights would be helpful. I'm sure your PT showed you what moves to avoid or I hope so.

    Good luck with this. I'm an exercise junkie so I know can be tough to put that aside while healing.

    I don't know about your surgery but I was told I'd need to wait 6 months before I even started to lift weights. Could it be that you went back too soon? Have you tried to stop lifting and just walk to see if things will calm down?

    Just a thought

  • Hey Lynn, gwennie!

    The kind of cardio I do now is the elliptical only. I feel jogging on the treadmill is too much at this point. Plus, my right foot starts to get numb after only a few moments.
    I scaled way back on my weights since the surgery. The only standing exercises that I do are: upright DB rows (30lb DBs, which is down from the 150lb olympic bar that I used prior to surgery), and elastic bands for curls.
    Each day is usually different for me. Sometimes, it feels the muscles are too tight, so I lay on a racquet ball on the trouble spots. Other days, it is completely gone. Who knows what the day will hold.

    Little history on me: I'm currently 27 years old. I have been a moderately healthy person - never had any serious ailments/sicknesses/concerns other than this back problem. For the last 4.5 years, I have been trying to get into a local law enforcement agency : prison/county jail officer or the Detroit Police. To say it was a dream of mine was an understatement! The problem that I'm facing is this: because of this back concern, I have pretty much abandoned this dream. I plan on going back this fall to finish up my degree, yada yada yada. The reason why I'm leery to get another MRI is that the Dr. may tell me to get another surgery. Unfortunately, this is not in the cards right now. I've been pre-approved for student loans through the Winter 2010 semester. If I were to get another surgery (most likely fusion), I would be out of commission for several months. That would cause me to miss school and I would not be eligible to extend the student loans, as you have to start paying the loans back after missing 6 months of school. So, I'm at quite a cross-road!
  • No offense Brian, but you are your own worst enemy.
    You didn't give your disc enough time to heal.

    Get 2 new MRI's. One with contrast, another without.
    Don't fight it.

    If you and your surgeon determine permanent nerve damage or muscle atrophy is iminent, then you have dodged the bullet.
    Perhaps medications and traction can resolve the situation.

    In the case of the surgical route, you do not have to have a fusion. You can still get another micro D on the same disc.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Paul

    No offense taken at all. I appreciate any feedback. It seems like every day is a new adventure, because the pain seems to 'move'. Doing cardio (elliptical) seems to help it out. I noticed your signature says you adjusted your life accordingly. May I ask how so?
  • I have to avoid situations that involve compression of the spine.

    I stopped running; now I ride my bike for cardio.
    No more lifting things.
    Instead of squats, I use the quad machine.
    Instead of good-mornings, I use the supine leg curl machine.
    No standing calf-raise machine, using the sit-down version.
    No shoulder / military / French presses, doing handstands and lowering myself to the ground.

    I had to quit sports / martial arts / golf / roller coasters.

    I have not returned to car racing yet only because the car is not ready. I will try it but am not sure how my lumbar discs will take the g-forces.

    No more working at a physical activity type job.
    I used to work in a grocery store / bakery. Had to do lots of lifting.
    Now I have to find an office type job.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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