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Stiffness 6 weeks after surgery?

BlaskBBlask Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello Everyone,

I had my 2nd L5/S1 discectomy/lamenectomy about 6 weeks ago. Leading up to surgery the doc wasn't sure if it was a disc problem or more of an arthritic problem that would require a fusion. He definitely suggested a discectomy though so we went ahead with it. I'm 31 years old and a pretty active person.

I've healed up since my surgery but I'm very stiff in the middle of my back. I've never had pain that high up before. When I sit it hurts to stand up, which was the original problem before surgery but now the pain is in the middle of my back instead of the lower back. Also, when I lay in bed and I wake up in the morning I'm in a good bit of pain. Walking around and movement seems pretty good but I'm worried that the stiffness is a new problem.

Has anyone ever had this happen? Thanks in advance



  • I have not had any surgury, but I have had stiffness and spasms for probably 30 years.

    I know that for me - a nights rest can result in me having more stiffness and pain because it is so tight. My back just locks up. It is trying to hold itself in a pain free place and as a result it just clamps the vertebre together and it takes a lot of effort to release them and let them move again.

    I wake up at night and find my stomach in spasm, hard to touch and my back is in rippling spasms across the back and down the left or right side, there is no pattern to it. I have to be very careful moving as it can be like giving yourself a charlie-horse except it is in the spine and that hurts like heck.

    When it happens- I have to take time to stretch myself, not quickly. The most useful I find is forward strectching while sitting in a chair, slowly until before I feel it pull. Its is just a matter of moving the spine a little. And a knee up to my chest- just slowly, again, dont pull, just enough to move it a little bit.

    I get so stiff that my back is flat, and my hips move in any direction that I move my shoulders. It's like I am a solid barrel, rather than a fluid spine.

    The longer I try to sleep- the worse it gets, 8 hours is about the max I can stand.
  • Hi Blask,

    You are in the early stages of recovery so stiffness is probably expected. I had many months ago and still have mornings when I am moving very slowly. Are you having any physio? I found physio and an exercise program really helped. Check with your surgeon first though - everyone heals differently.

    Take care
  • I had stiffnes for several months after my surgery, same level as you. Mine was Jan.2009, and I would say that the stiffness lasted about 4 months. I do some stretches before getting out of bed, and that really helped. Are you doing PT? That really helped me, and they showed me some good stretches to do before getting up, especially stretches that loosened up the hips. I find at the end of the day, my back tightens up, and my legs start to feel tighter, but that is also getting better. Hang in there! sweetpotatoe57
  • I have just recently had the same exact surgery & I am also experiencing the same condition! My surgery was exactly 1 week ago today, and for the past 4 mornings or so, I have been waking up with the worse stiffness and pain in my middle to upper back. I was convinced it was our mattress, and I was checking on purchasing a new one just this past weekend. Of course, I am now willing to spend whatever it takes to be comfortable, since before surgery I was in excruciating pain for about 2 mos. with pinched nerves and now I have this going on. I am tired of hurting. The tempur-pedic, sleep number, latex beds & etc. are very EXPENSIVE!! So many choices and now I am not sure that is what it is! I have been putting a heating pad on it in the morning to get the stiffness out a little, but it takes getting up and moving for awhile before it works its way out. I usually feel better after a hot shower. I know the Dr. warned of spinal fluid leaking from the incision, fever, and infection, but nothing was ever mentioned of this upper pain. I was laying on my back before the surgery with my leg elevated to ease the pain of the nerve pinching, and I don't remember it being as painful for my upper spine as what I am dealing with recently. Please let me know if you hear of anything that would help, I am so tired of hurting and I have only a week left before I go back to work!!!
  • Just to follow up & let you know, I called my surgeons office and the nurse said this was common. It is muscle spasms in the back, which I can take 3 advil (600 mg) and my flexeril before bed to help get the inflamation down and stop the spasming. I am starting the advil asap as well as an ice pack also. You might want to call your dr. to see what they suggest. Good luck!
  • i have has the same surgery as you .and my mid back is always stiff and aches since the last operation 20 months ago.every time you are operated on the structure of the back are dissected from the original positions ..when they close the surgery the structures never go back as perfectly as they were before surgery .so you get scaring and sometimes adhesion's and that in its self will give you pain .try a TENS and make sure that you have got suitable pain relief from your doctor .also when you are feeling better try a gentle swim
  • Thanks for all the feedback. It's starting to get a little bit better and I'm using Advil and Flexeril as needed. I am starting to get back to a little bit of tennis playing and that seems to help a bit.

    I am starting Pilates this week to help with core strengthening and am also going to start with some sort of personal training or physio rehab to aid in the process as well.

    Sitting at work still continues to be a problem for me but I am hoping it gets better with time.

    Good Luck to everyone in their journey!
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