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1 week post op after discectomy L5

Daveyp1DDaveyp1 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Hi, Had discectomy on L5 S1 1 week ago today...I still feel that the nerve is trapped and am unable to straighten my left leg completely without considerable nerve pain. I Hurt my back approx 2 yrs ago and lost some sensation in my left foot and have suffered from shooting pains going accross my left buttock and down my leg with numbness on the left side (Pretty standard symtoms). After another bout of servre symtoms I opted for surgery.

Can anyone tell me if this is normal as I was expecting some pain but the nerve to be free, where as at the moment the nerve feels as it just as trapped as before.

Should I be trying to stretch the nerve?

Thanks in advance ~X(



  • During the microdiscectomy the surgeon does sometime have to move the nerve so that can inflame the nerve further. Before they sew you up they pretty much flood the area with anti-inflammatories, which wear off after about a week. I was told it is fairly common for the nerve to flare up in the second week, but that the symptoms would fade as the nerve recovered.

    I'm not sure what you mean by stretch the nerve, but I wouldn't do anything other than the exercises you were given post surgery.

  • A person can develop adhesions post op that attach to the nerve giving it that trapped feeling. I have experienced that a few times. My NS had me moving my feet to loosen and to keep the nerve free. So basically if lying in bed or kicked back in a recliner, I point my toes forward as much as I can and then point them back towards me as much as I can. I do this over and over and I can feel the nerve loosen up. My NS told me this was a great way to avoid further entrapment of the nerve during the post op healing process.

    That being said, you really need to check with your doc before doing any kind of exercise or stretching. Since we are all different and our docs have different styles and healing philosophies, we need to heed what each of them say.

  • Thank you for your reply...I suppose time will tell...Was just hoping to be able to touch my toes straight away, possibly being unrealistic! lol

    As it feels like a tight ham string, was wondering if I should be trying to straighten my leg through the pain - almost like strenching the nerve...

    Been great finding this site though, begining to count my blessing, have read so proper horror stories!

    Thanks again for your help.
  • I am just over 4 weeks post op from a microdiscectomy at L5/S1. I had the same concerns you are having. If I tried to stretch the nerve at all it felt stuck or trapped as it did before the surgery. I was told by my doctor that this is simply swelling at the surgery site and is completely normal. I was skeptical but must admit that it has gotten better every day. I had my first physical therapy appt. yesterday and was nervous that when I woke up today I would be extremely sore as they had me do some light stretching of the nerve. To my surprise I actually feel better today than I did yesterday. That being said, I wouldn't suggest that you try any stretches or exercises until your doctor gives you the green light. To get to the point, just give it time and hopefully you will start to see improvement over the next few weeks. I never thought I would feel this good just 4 weeks after surgery. Good luck!
  • Thank you so much for your reply...Its great to hear that this is normal 1 week post op. To be honest was begining to feel pretty low feeling that the surgery had not been successfull, but now have renewed hope that all will be well. Its been 9 days now and although I still feel pressure on the nerve there is a slight sign of improvement today especially. Lets hope this is the start of greater things to come. Will contact my surgeon in regards to nerve stretching exercises, just want to do as much as I possibly can to maximise positive results. Will keep all posted in regards to recovery. This really is a fabulous site, its great to gain info from real people who have experienced the same as you.

    Thanks again for the help...kindest Regards Dave
  • I had an endoscopic microD and the nerve pain was horrid for about 1 year. It takes the nerve some time to heal after being compressed. I could not lift my right leg at all for about 4 months. I had to use my hand and lift my pant leg to get in and out of the car. Be patient and it should get better.
  • I was in bed, basically paralyzed for almost a month post-op L5-S1 md.
    It turned out to be inflammation, swelling and edema.
    I called the surgeon and asked to come back in.
    They injected an ESI into the surgical site.
    No change until day 3 when I noticed the pain going away. By day 7 I was pain-free.

    Every case is different.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • epidurals, blocks, rhizotomy 2 weeks after surgery. None of it even touched the pain. Yes everyone is very different.
  • I'm 4 days post op, I had a microdiscectomy and laminectomy(spelling?) at L5-S1. I have some of the same issues. I was able to pee standing at the hospital but by day 2 and since I have had to sit, which increases the numbness. I can walk somewhat fine, I used a cane before surgery so I'm about the same as far as that goes. The only real issue I have is to be expected, at least I think so, my doctor told me to lie flat as much as possible the first 4-5 days and get up and walk a little as tolerated everyfew hours, but the incion sight hurts like hell, sliding in out out of bed feels like theres a knife stick in there and someones twisting it. The same when I sit back in a chair no matter how gentle I do so. Though 6 1/2 years of pain I'm pretty used to it, this is my first surgery so I don't know if thats normal, but I am not able to bend or really straighten my left leg either so from I read on this forum, which is great by the way, is normal.
  • Hi Deerejohn. I'm new to this forum. I had a discectomy on 3/16/11. It was the L4L5 for me. So far the pain has been just in my middle back where the incision site is but I'm stiff as heck when I get up. Right now I'm trying not to sit at all since that seems to activate pain in my lower back. How are you now that you are almost ten days post op? Has getting up gotten easier? Are you still on narcotic pain meds at this point?
  • I actully felt better the first cuple days then I do now. still taking the meds, but I've been on them for years now. I have been getting pain in my right leg wich is weird because I didn't have pain there before, just in my left side. There was a lot of damage and my surgon didn't lead me on to think that I'd have complete relief. I heal very slow from other injuries so I'm wondering how long this will take, My biggest complaint is the incision itself, It hurts to put any presure on it, it seems to be healing well, I had glue, no stiches.
  • Hi all--curious if you had the same experience. I was amazingly better after waking up from the surgery today--got feeling back in leg and foot immediately, and got up to walk pretty easily after a few hours (with no limp!) Later, after a few hours at home in bed, things have gone far downhill. Pain in the back while getting up from bed is excruciating, even with the meds. Leg is still fine--amazing, in fact. But the back is awful. Not shocking after surgery, of course, but I'm surprised at the magnitude of the pain in back while moving. It's only tolerable lying down and staying still. Does anyone have advice for getting thru the first few days? Ways to minimize pain from movement? Any advice appreciated, and good luck to all of your recoveries!

    (written in bed on my iPad, by the way--sitting at computer is out of the question!)

    PS--deerejohn, your description of a knife in the back and someone is twisting it is an apt description of what I feel. I had an L5s1 discectomy. How many days did that last for you?
  • I'm 8 day's out, The knife in the back thing started about a day into recovery and has maintained since. I did something just walking to my back today though, on top of the kinfe in my back I am having severe sciatica on my left side, which is were my pain has always been but never has it been this bad, I haven't seen my doctor yet but I fear that my disk might have herniated my L5-S1 agian. My pain until now was far less then I had expected it to be, enough to prvent me from doing alot of walking or sitting, but not so much to keep me bed-ridden. I've had the bad disk for well over 6 years so I'm used to pain, my pain has steadaly increased over the years and really picked up 4 years ago when I herniated at L4. I hope that you countinue to heal well and your leg pain stays gone, I had had some leg pain but no its unbearable.
  • Hey there. My "knife" pain has subsided some and I think that's to do with the walking. I get up once an hour and walk the floor in my house. Three times a day I walk outside. I stopped the meds on day five and went to taking two Aleve. That was a surprise how well they took the inflammation away around the incsion site. I tried Aleve or other anit inflammatories for years and they never did a thing to help me so it was a nice surprise that they helped now. Today is one week since surgery and I still wake up stiff but I go from the bed to right outside for a walk and I think that's made the biggest difference for me. Have you tried sitting yet? Yestday was my first day and while it hurt some, I feel it activated some "butt" muscles that had been starting to feel tight from no use. I had back pain for years and only in December did I ever have disc-rupture issues like severe pain and total weakness in my knee. I wish this surgery would help with my years long back pain but I don't think it will.
  • Hi Kitsy. The first two days home I felt pretty good considering what I had done. It was day four and day five that the pain was the worst for me. I think the muscle relaxers and big doses of other meds in the hospital had finally left my system and that is when the real muscle pain seemed to set in for me. I continued to walk through it all and even felt like crying by Sunday night but the last two days have been really good. I didn't do anything different, just kept walking and moving often in the house. Today is one week and I do see improvements every day but it is very slow. Right now most of the pain and discomfort seem to be hanging around in my butt and hips. Not pain like I had before but just dull, nagging muscle pain. Yesterday I started using the front porch steps and went up and down a few times to activate the glute and hamstrings a little. They started to feel weak. Let me know how you progress the next few days :)
  • Thanks deerejohn and Alli--really helpful. Here's what I've learned after talking to the PA and a family member who is a nurse--hopefully this will help others who have these same issues immediately post-op:

    * don't get behind on the pain meds--I was too conservative and should have taken the max dose. Hard to play catch-up on pain once I got behind, the PA said
    * the knife-like pain is normal surgery pain -- prob doesn't mean we've got new problems or done something wrong if we're experiencing it (though everyone is different)
    * he said I could start using ice--no one mentioned that yesterday. It's helping the pain
    * when getting out of bed, try to put weight on your heels and use your core muscles to stand instead of using back muscles--the heels advice is esp helping me
    * I also had some chest discomfort overnight, which went away when I got up. Nurse said that's bc of breathing too shallowly. Be sure to take lots of deep breaths
    * as Alli said, walking around really helps loosen things up

    Thanks all, and please keep sharing your advice! Good luck to all!
  • I have learned the hard way that just because your feeling good don't over do it. I had to do a lot of waling and sitting when I was at the hopital for my wife and I am paying a high price for it now, my doctor has put me back on bed rest, laying as flat as possible and icing for the next few day. My leg pain is worce now then even before surgery, probably worce then it has been in the last year. Thank you Alli and Kitsy, I haven't had my post op yet and you guys have been very helpfull!
  • Sorry to hear you're on bed rest--I'm still in bed too. Less knife-like pain when I get in and out of bed today, which is probably due to the higher pain meds + passage of time. Max pain meds gave me nausea so i'm cutting back again. Are you still wearing the compression socks? I am--nurse in family told me to wear them until I'm ready for normal activity. They're oh so attractive! Hang in there--you will feel better and this will have been worth it! Good luck!
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