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How worried should I be?

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

I need a little advice from those who have already gone down this path.

I had a microdiscectomy on Monday this week. Came home yesterday without any leg or back pain, but my bladder stopped working - so I came home catheterized. I realize now that i was having bladder issues before the surgery for about 2 weeks - not voiding completely, but now I can't pee at all.

I'm very concerned that this might be a long term issue rather than the "come back in one week and we'll see if you can pee" scenario that the hospital staff gave me. Could the nerve have been further damaged during surgery if the rest of my surgical results were so good? I still have numbness in my leg, but the pain is gone, which means the surgery was successful, correct?

I have had several surgeries in the past and have had constipation from the anesthesia and pain killers, so this time I was careful to only take a minimum of painkillers and to take a stool softener each day. I've been home two days, taken Milk of Magnesia with no result, taken laxatives with no result, and now I'm concerned that my bowel as well as my bladder is not functioning. How long should I wait before contacting my doctor? Should I take more laxatives or will that cause internal problems if I've lost the ability to push properly?

Many thanks to anyone who is able to give me practical advice beyond "contact your doctor".



  • Why don't you try a fleet enema? I think it's best to call the Dr. though there's always someone on call. You can get it at the pharmacy. Warm it up it warm water first and make sure it's not hot and also try to drink some warm liquids like hot water and lemon or some package oatmeal also. At 3 days no movement I would call the Dr. Many people come in to the Urgent Care where I work after 1 week but it's better to go in 3 days with no movement especially after back surgery. Good luck and hope your bladder will be retrained to work after the inflammation goes down. I hope there's a Nurse coming to see you about the catheter next week. I hope you heal completely after your surgery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It is typical for steroidal ant-inflamatory medicine to be dumped onto the nerves and surgical site before the surgeon closes it up.
    This gives a "honeymoon" type effect. Things might feel great, but the meds do wear off eventually.

    As far as the evacuation issues, I wouldn't wait.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I'm sorry your having these problems at Christmas. I agree with everyone and I wouldn't wait. I would call the doctors office tonight. If I was a doctor I would rather hear from you on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day. I hope you feel better soon.
  • My 2 cents worth is that I would contact the doctor if you are worried.

    I would say after my Microdiscectomy, it took 4 days to have a Bowel movement. I did the same thing on limiting pain meds (I actually really didn't need many), drank good amount of water, some coffee and had all the right 'fiber foods'. It was the evening of day 4 and could have easily been morning of day 5 had I fallen asleep before the 'urge' came on.

    So you aren't so "off" from my experience other than you have the combination of the bladder evacuation so you have more reason to be concerned.

    I think it's worth a call just to be safe so you don't worry.
  • Please read through the enclosed information. Any of us that have lower lumbar issues need to be aware of cauda equina syndrome. If it goes unrecognized, it can cause permanent nerve damage.

  • I don't know if this is the same - but EVERY time after being 'cathed' it takes me a LONG time to figure things out again.

    The first time, with my third baby, it was weeks before I could control anything. It was NOT like that after my first two babies (no cath then).

    After my back surgery it was easier, but I still had a difficult time trying to re-train those muscles.

  • I had to be cathed at the hospital after my last surgery because I couldn't pee as well and it was very uncomfortable for me. I did start peeing again but ever since then I've had problems. I took antibiotics for a post op bladder infections and improved for a while. Then after I became incontinent again and couldn't hold back once the urge to go came around. I have to have another urinalysis to make sure it isn't just another UTI. I've had plenty in my day but not like the way I have it now. My symptoms are primarily incontinence, no burning, frequency, or pain. Anyways, I hope your doctor gets down to the bottom (no pun intended)of the problems so you can get back in control and focus on your recovery. Take care
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