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Another question about muscle pain/fatigue

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

As a lot of you probably know by now I had PLIF L5S1 on October 16th so just over 10 weeks ago.

My question is about the muscle pain and fatigue I have been having. Oh and I suppose about what constitutes doing too much!

So about 3 weeks ago I was cleared to swim and went and did 5 minutes 2 days running. I also was a bit sociable the second day as a visitor came and instead of going and lying down like I felt like I sat to be sociable for about an hour and a half. I then helped decorate the xmas tree much later that day. Well the following day I could hardly move. Getting up out of bed was nearly impossible and getting back down into lying position was equally difficult! Pretty much like about 5 days post op. Actually being up or lying down was not painful but the transition was awful. The pain was all in my lower abdominals not really in my back. Well I stayed stiff like this for about a week with a slight improvement each day. I did walk most days just no swimming!

Well Christmas day and eve I did quite a lot - just up and walking and cooking etc. I suppose it was a long couple of days. Since then I have been suffering with the muscle pains in my lower abdominals but also have a bit of lower back ache too. I feel a bit unsteady around my hips like the muscles are pulling funny.

I tend to be worse at each end of the day.

So I suppose what I want to know is if this is normal? Quite a lot of you talk about pain after doing too much. Is this what you mean? On a positive note I very rarely get anything approaching nerve pain any more. The muscle pain is quite bad though - I have to take 2 cocodamol 30/500 at night to be able to sleep through. Otherwise I wake in the early hours with my abdominals throbbing. In the day I make do with plain paracetamol as I can't function on the narcotics.

I am worried because I am due to return to work as a teacher on monday and I am worried about how I am going to cope.

Sorry if this is a stupid question. It's just that I see all the people out there managing to do stuff and I wonder how they manage!


  • Thia is not a stupid question by a long shot. You have to keep in mind that your body was severely deconditioned prior to surgery and then with the healing time required before you could start to work things compounding it. Your entire body has deconditioned and the aches and pains you describe, seem like the normal healing and reconditioning that I've gone through each time.

    I just learned that it's like any other kind of exercise program that you begin. As you increase the intensity muscles will reach fatigue and they will scream and whine. As they come back on line then the others around them that are slacking off will scream and whine, until you finally reach a point where some sort of normality is recaptured.

    If you have any pain that seems wrong, or gives you that feeling in the pit of your stomach, then stop what your doing and consult your doc.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • Thank you - it is just so frustrating when you read about other people who seem to bounce back so much faster! I think I may just be a bit too impatient!!
  • I think I bounced back pretty quick - but at 3 months - yeow, my muscles would have been screaming for sure if I'd gone back to work then. They still weren't happy at almost 6 mo.

    Just eliminate EVERY OTHER THING in your life until you can build up some endurance. Plan on sleeping whenever you can. Get a cat-nap on breaks and lunches if you can too. That and Tylenol might become your best friends.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Keep in mind that no one really ever has the exact same kind of surgery even if it's the same description as we all react differently and our procedures differe in that our anatomy is never exactly the same (so maybe one nerve in you was tweaked while another person didn't experience this, etc).

    I would say that you overdid it but your body didn't tell you until later. I've learned that lesson and have endured some days in bed because of it.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • It's just not fair how my body never tells me till later! I end having one good week and one bad! I think I am just fed up at the moment and this pain doesn't help. Oh well at least I should be better again in time to overdo it at work!
  • the muscle pain. I know exactly what you are feeling. My muscles are waking up in places I would never expect since surgery. I have a good deal of muscle pain in my sides and abdomen. Then upon the walking I feel the leg muscles or nerves flaring...still trying to figure those out. My butt even hurts when I sit a certain way. I think that is sciatica areas and the nerves healing. My nerves were a trapped mess inbetween the L4 and L5 so I have a lot of nerve healing going on. I have learned that if I only sit 30-45 minutes and then get up to move a bit in between it helps. I try to walk twice a day outside and am trying my best to build up distance like my NS told me to...but it is so hard. He also wants me to drop some pounds (about 40) eventually...that has not been too hard considering the surgery stay in the hospital made me drop 10 the span of a week, but my appetite is slowly returning so I am trying to be careful in that regard. Anyway, it is going to be a long process, I am sure. I am with you! We are here to support each other. :D
  • Thanks for that. I just wasn't expecting these odd muscles to start hurting. I thought it would be my back giving me grief! But no! It is my side/stomach/hip where I suffer mostly! My answer to the questions "how's your back?" is still that my back is fine but .....(choose an area) is not! Pre op it was that the pain in my leg and hip was terrible. NOw it's my abdominals!
    At least I know that it is normal now!
  • Just a friendly tip: at 30-45 minutes, you are sitting too long! Sitting puts 30% more stress on the discs than either standing or lying down. 15 minutes at a time is plenty at this point in your recovery. Then you need to get up and move a little bit. Also when you have surgery for a spondylolisthesis, recovery can take a bit longer. In addition to the usual issues, the soft tissue and muscles have to make an adjustment to the new positioning.

    The surgeon usually makes some adjustment in an attempt to realign the vertebrae. This results in all other tissue having to stretch or shrink to accommodate these new positions.

    You will be sore for awhile as everything settles in and learns a new position and function.

    Be patient. Don't try to rush the process along...this is a race for the tortoise and not the hare!!

  • Gwennie, can you suggest some easy things for me to do inside the house (since the winter weather limits my outings) that I can do to help limit my time sitting. I try to move about, but being in an apartment there is limited things for me to do. It is horrible that at 2 weeks out, I am already finding myself getting bored beyond belief. ~X( lol I was given a list of stretches from PT before discharge but I do those at night in bed before sleep and in the morning before getting up. I have to keep reminding myself that it may be a year before I am back to normal...impatient me has to slow down. It is frustrating though. @) Thank you for the advice. >:D<
  • I agree that it is hard to know what to do. I actually just lay down most of the time as I found sitting far too uncomfortable for ages. I read a lot and watched a box set of DVDs. My couch is fairly comfrotable to lie on so I could at least be out of bed. I also would do cooking in stages - so chop a bit, then lie down, peel a bit, then lie down and so on. I had 3 and a half weeks in my early recovery where I had an infection in my wound so was only allowed to walk about 1/4 mile a day. TBH I couldn't be bothered to get dressed to do this so stayed in instead!! I didn't suffer any where near as much with the muscle pain during this enforced rest. Not sure what is worse - being able to do stuff but paying later, or not being able to do anything!
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