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L5S1 MicroD Update.. Post Op 1 Week...and some Questions..

scmgurusscmguru Posts: 103
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So here I am One week post op..

One thing I will say is this experience DEFINITELY wasn't like a couple of surgeons described.. i.e. outpatient, walk out same day.. back to light work in 3-4 days..

Maybe it was because I had "more" done than just a simple disc shaving?

In any event..

Here's what was done.

1. L5S1 disc trimmed down to where it should be, My surgeon was surprised that the right side looked worse than he would have thought based on my MRI's..

2. BiLateral Foraminotomies
3. "Clean Up" of my Facet Joints at L5S1 and one level above due to some arthritic changes.


1. My scar is way bigger than I thought is was going to be.. about 3" or so.
2. My incision line looks like a mountain ridge and is about 1/2" higher than the skin level at it's highest point. Not sure this is normal but I've got a recheck monday.


1. My right leg feels great, no numbness, pain, tingling.. exactly as I'd hoped.

2. My Left leg is a different story.. there's no numbness and little to no tingling, but it HURTS.. The pain is an intense dull/diffuse deep pain from about the middle of my left butt cheek all the way down to my calf. It comes and goes.. but is there most of the time.

90% of my nerve compression was on the left side.

The left side is where my symptoms first started, thus it's been compromised the longest (since 08/2009).

My Dr. said he had to clear out a lot more stuff on the left side, so I'm hoping that maybe the nerve is just upset about being manipulated.

From what I've read, nerves don't just stop hurting when the pressure is removed.. a lot of times, it will take time for the aggravation to subside.

Pain Levels/Meds:

Right side, no issues.
Left side, about a 5 at best and creeps up to a 7 or so..

My Med regime includes Neurontin (till the nerve settles down), Norco, Oxycontin and Soma..

I've found Soma and Alleve (of all things) tend yo help the most.

So.. that's where I'm at.. I'm wearing a brace. I probably sit more than I should ;)

I do have questions re: stretching/PT..my Dr. told me nothing but light walking the 1st 10 days (until my recheck).. I'm a bit nervous about my nerve getting locked down by scar tissue, but I've stuck to the plan.

Can other folks who've had this share how long it took for their Sciatic pain to go away and when they started stretching/PT?

I hope this helps other folks..



  • Sounds like you are doing well.
    I would be careful about sitting too much. Trust me, on this. Also, the small walks are all you want to do. Listen to your doctor. You might want to ask how much you can increase walking per day. I think I was told 10% per week or something like this.

    You are too early in recovery to stretch. They will likely wait until week 6 to recommend stretching or any PT. There are some core muscle exercises they will teach you but again, you need to let that back heal...some doctors say 6 weeks, others prefer to wait 3 months.

    But trust me, 2 weeks...you are still really early in recovery. You may feel good but the inner incision takes time to fully heal over.

    You are doing good. Keep it up!

    Curious - why the back brace? Just to keep you focused on not 'breaking the rules"?

    I had my revision on Monday. A little rougher on the 2nd go around. Stayed overnight this time too but this time was planned. Glad I did b/c I had some nauseau issues but surprisingly, my pain was relatively controlled this time.

    My leg pain is better but still have the numbness. Of cousre I lost it instantly when I blew the disc in August...pain was unbearable. I hope to get some feeling back. I'm encouraged by your story. Keep the updates coming.

    I would say the positives of this round.
    - less painful (maybe I knew what to expect)
    - knew more about how to move and how to heal
    - understand my failure rate and am realistic about it so not stressed out.
    - Was ready for the surgery mentally which is a huge help.
    - feel more educated on meds, recovery, and know that I have to do what I can to help recover but even with that, I can't blame myself if it doesn't work.

    I hope my recovery follows your positive experience.
    Glad you are doing well. Your story will help other folks!

    Thank you.
  • Thanks for the note.. The brace is more of a "reminder" not to bend/twist etc.

    I definitely need to sit less.

  • thanks for explaining the brace.
    I was thinking that's what it was for.
    Very wise!

    I need to walk more but am doing pretty good for week 1. I am worried about scar tissue too. I think lots of little (flat) walks are good for that.

  • Yes!! Walking is the very best thing you can do to help prevent scar tissue from attaching to the nerve. And it is better to walk several times each day for a short time, than take one long walk and then return exhausted!! Then during the day while lying in bed or reclining, do simple exercises like you were probably given in the hospital...ankle pumps, etc.

    And take the sitting restrictions seriously. I think people do more damage by sitting too much than any other activity...and I include myself in the group. I KNOW I sat too much after my first surgery, the fusion. I won't make that mistake this time!!

    No one can really tell you how long it takes for sciatic pain to go away after surgery, including the doctors. There are too many variables from person to person, and no one can really predict what nerves will do or how they will recover.

    Don't focus on that. Just do what you can to minimize the chances for the formation of scar tissue...that means walking. Don't worry about speed. If you have pain, shorten up your stride and slow down your pace...but keep walking. Then go home, ice your lower back and lie down!! NO sitting. Try just to sit for meals and trips to the bathroom, as needed. When you are lying down, it gives the discs a chance to unload. Otherwise you have all the weight of gravity pushing down on those discs that are trying to heal up.

  • Both of you thanks.
    I was getting flack from my hubby and mother in law that I was overdoing it (walking). But then I got worried about lying too much.

    I re-read my discharge papers and it said walk frequently in short distances as much as possible. It said do not stay in bed for long periods.

    I talked to the nurse again and she said "yes, use 5 min rule. Walk 5 mins every hour" so I told them tomorrow I am not resting too much.

    I have been excellent about not sitting long. Week 1 is easy for this. I have to remember in week 2+

    I found several small walks is working well. Flat surfaces too.
  • Just wanted to update folks..

    What a journey.. a good day.. then a bad day..

    Had a really good Friday with minimal pain levels.. Had the family over for the Olympic opening ceremonies. (Felt great that evening)

    Went out with my better half on Saturday for lunch and some shopping.. (She deserved it and has been a saint putting up with me and taking care of me and the household by herself since my surgery)

    We were definitely out for quite a bit and I felt pretty good most of the day.. I think we left around noon and weren't back until 8 or so.

    Probably 80% walking and the rest was sitting for lunch and the car ride there and back..

    Wore my flexible back brace and though I was no speed demon, I did pretty well walking around. ;)

    However, I think I was too ambitious!

    Felt quite good for the most part until that evening, when I started to pay for it.

    The middle of my lower back is pretty sore and my left leg started to hurt again..

    Interestingly, this time it was the whole leg and not just sections. And.. both my back and leg felt different than the way it had hurt before..

    Not sure what that means, but I took it really easy today.. Slept in..

    Went to Costco as my "walking" for the day and didn't carry anything over 4-5 lb.

    Had some pretty nasty twinges over bumps on the car ride home..

    Then rested all afternoon and the only real sitting I did today was about 20 min worth of car ride and typing this entry..

    Still pretty sore but it's starting to get a bit better..

    Excited about starting a new week..

    I go in for a post-op check tomorrow.

    I'm tentatively scheduled for a business trip at the end of the week (2 week mark), but the Dr. said he's not comfortable and after this weekend.. I think he's right.

    DNice.. hope you're feeling better.

  • Hey that is fantastic that you were able to get out and about for so much time. It is quite possible that things got inflammed and are pressing on nerves that weren't involved before. (just an educated guess, take it for what it's worth). I know I did the same thing and anti-inflammatory meds, rest and ice made a huge difference.

    On the issue with sitting. My surgeon restricted me from sitting for 30 days after each surgery. Only using the bathroom was I allowed to sit. I modified everything around the house to accommodate me either standing or lying down. It worked tremendously. I even adapted my computer so I could stand and use it. My point is, that there are many ways to adapt our normal daily routines to accommodate little to no sitting.

    I hope you start to feel better soon and that this flare subsides quickly for you.

  • Good Point Re: Sitting.. I wonder if laying on my stomach would be OK? I'll ask my doc..

    I saw a really cool adjustable desk the other day at our office.. it was both a sitting or standing desk depending on the configuration.. (ie you could raise the work surface easily).

    Also, has anyone used those kneeling chairs? My job requires me to sit at a PC.. I wonder if they'll help?

    Thanks for all the wonderful insight everyone.

  • I would caution you to avoid doing too much too soon. The biggest problem surgeons have with discectomy patients is that they feel good and are eager to do all the things that the pain has prohibited them from doing in previous weeks/months.

    In a way, a discectomy is a fragile fix for a problem. It takes awhile for the disc to scab over and become a good solid "patch" for the ballooning disc. If the patient does not give the patch a chance to set up, they are almost asking for trouble down the road.

    You have to remember that you were laid up for awhile with pain...it took you awhile to get to the point where you needed surgery. It is unrealistic to expect that you can go out ten days later and just pick up where you left off prior to injury. It's like not playing golf for a season and then picking up your clubs and playing 36 holes.

    I would be astonished if your surgeon told you to sleep on your stomach. Generally speaking, it is NEVER recommended as it does not support the natural curves of the spine. Particularly after surgery, you need as much support as possible. Sleeping on your side with pillows supporting you as needed is usually considered the best position, or on your back with a pillow supporting your knees.

    Hope your leg pain goes away soon. Try to keep in mind that you have had a big surgery and give your body a chance to heal.

    I'm afraid if you keep up a schedule like what you did Friday and Saturday, you will find yourself right back at the surgeon's office.
  • Wow, sounds like you are doing well.
    And yes, sounds like you overdid it which is why you are hurting.

    I'm a week out and feeling pretty good but learned my lesson from round 1 not to overdo it. This week I have my mother-in-law here still even though I can do a few more things but I am still asking for help (tough for me) because I know that I need 3 months to fully heal.

    I would be surprised if your doctor says yes to travel. My doctor has put "TBD" on my return to work date.

    My job requires me to work at a desk but I have a laptop and can work remote if needed which I plan to do for a bit to avoid unecessary driving.

    I also have a device to allow me to be on the laptop lying down. It's called Laptop Laid back and basically I can work lying flat.

    At work, I had an ergonomic assessment to get a better chair and when I return, I will get a head set so I can pace while on conference calls. I will also leverage the 'stand' option of my work area.

    I'm having some back pain today (usually only take a percaset at night and then live on tylenol during day with max of 1 valium) but today took percaset in the am b/c my back is hurting more today.

    Remember - 2 weeks is still early. They will tell you at 2 weeks...be cautious...the next 4 weeks is still very critical that you take it easy.

    I have to say though that it's so sweet that you wanted to get out with your wife. She sounds wonderful and glad you could treat to a fun Valentines day.
  • I found those kneeling type chair forced things into an unnatural painful position despite the advertisement. An exercise ball worked far better for me. They make excellent seats for people with spine issues.

  • Had my re-check today.. no travel for at least another 2 weeks or so..

    I figured as much.

    I must have overdone it this weekend.. still sore, but better than yesterday.

    Dr. found a bit of swelling on my incision, so I'm on antibiotics for a bit, just in case.

    Haven't sat too much today.. going to sign off now so I'm not tempted to do so!

    Will keep you all updated.. Thanks for everything and best wishes to all my spiney friends.

  • Bit of a lousy morning today.. bottom of my foot and calf/shin area hurt...

    The bottom of my foot feels like its pulsing/throbbing.. Hope it's just the nerve getting settled down..

    Whatever it is.. it definitely isn't pleasant.
  • Hi,

    Sorry you are having a tough morning.
    I wish I could offer advice on today's pain but I can't. I have no idea on how to interpret that during recovery.

    My pain has varied. Much less on the revision (which I'm fortunate but was wiser this time and have help at my house to ensure I don't overdo it). The odd thing is I never know if the pain means the surgery failed or if it's the nerve waking up or if things are just the same. I would get phantom sharp/throbbing pain before too.

    I have decided not to panic day-to-day as long as I know I didn't do something I wasn't supposed to.

    Hopefully this is just your nerve angry today or maybe even happy and letting you know it's still there.

    By chance - is there a change in weather near you today? That makes a difference for me.

    I hope you feel better tomorrow.
    I also saw your other post about Sonoma (?sp) and I hope the antibiotics help clear that up. I remember you saying you were concerned about your incision from the beginning so I'm glad your doctor gave you something.

    Feel better.
  • Thanks for the note..

    The good news is.. I do feel better today than yesterday.. :)

    Baby Steps..
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