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Q's on recovery from L5S1 Laminectomy

BuilderbirdBBuilderbird Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi Folks,

Bit of background first

I had a laminectomy at L5S1 at the end of November 09. By the time my check up came around in February I was feeling great. Just some pins & needles & a very dull pain in the left leg, these were reducing in frequency & severity and so I returned to work at the end of Feb.

Since then I have been feeling progressively worse, with increased pain and numbness. My GP has ordered another scan & prescribed Lyrica & Ixprim & so far so good but I would prefer not to take meds at this point seeing as I have been on some fairly strong painkillers since October last (I should add that I have no other health issues)

My questions are:
1. has anybody else experienced such a set back after returning to "normal" life?
2. If so how long can I expect this to last (more or less)
3. What are the treatment options available apart from my current medication (I'd like to have a beer every now & then - lol)
4. Any ideas what the likleyhood is that I may have caused permanent damage to the nerve?

I really feel driving has not helped me here as I drive a manual car & all that clutching is a killer - I also drive a 50 mile round trip to & from work every day.

Any ideas / tips / advice criticisim etc most welcome

Thank a million



  • The first thing to acknowledge is that once you have a back or neck issue, life as you knew it will never be the same. You will need to be cognizant of how you use and/or abuse your spine from now on.

    Proper posture and body mechanics can become a big deal and will go a long ways in determining whether you have additional problems in the future. Too many people are careful for six months or a year or two after "recovery," and then slowly, but surely, the old habits reappear. They stop doing their "back" exercises, start slouching in front of the TV, let the weight start to creep up, etc.

    I cannot answer most of your questions specifically. But, in order...yes, a big percentage of patients experience at least one set back during recovery. I would say this is very common.

    I don't think anyone can tell you how long it may last. What I can tell you is if you do not see any improvement after several weeks, you might want to call your surgeon and discuss it with him. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to have some other issue come up during recovery. For example, with a discectomy, sometimes a disc will reherniate. With a laminectomy, there is always a chance that some instability will result at that segment.

    Nerves are very delicate and hate to be disturbed in any way, but they are also resilient. Again, no one can tell you if a nerve is "permanently" damaged. My guess would be probably not. But nerves heal VERY slowly. Generally doctors do not even get interested in the topic until after twelve months have passed.

    I would advise you to do what you can to make your life back friendly. Perhaps you could trade cars with someone to see if it makes a difference. Perhaps you can find a different mode of transportation, or move closer to work....Keep trying to find ways to keep up with your therapy, back exercises, proper posture, keeping weight normal, drinking lots of fluids, not sitting too long at a time, etc.

    It may be something as simple as an increase in inflammation. If Lyrica is working for you, I would suggest you keep taking it for awhile. Hopefully things will eventually settle back down.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks for the reply Gwennie. Especially the info about nerve damage, I'll be sure to discuss this with my GP.

    I see what you mean about never really having the same strength in my back again, I never really thought about it like that before. I suppose we all think that once we're back to work & so on that is the end of it, of course as you pointed out it is not by a long shot.

    Unfortunately I live in Ireland so swapping cars isn't a possibility (automatic transmition is the exception over here) I am going to look into getting a hire car for a couple of weeks to see if that makes any difference as moving closer to work isn't feisible. On the bright side I may get a new car out of all of this :)

    I will take on board all you have suggested

    Thnaks again & take care

  • my first operation was the same as yours but i had the open procedure {i presume that you had key hole?~
    unfortunate i was in pain straight after the operation and got worse over the next 7 years to the point were one morning i got out of bed and hit the floor that was nearly 3 years ago and i had a redo OF the laminectomy and a S1/L5 discectomy .i have been in hell ever since .i hope that this will not happen to you .i have lost my job and will never work again due to all the problems that the failed back operation has caused .they want to give me a multi level fusion now but i am very very reluctant to go ahead with it ..i hope that you are nowhere near as bad as me .my case is a bad one but i dont know of many that have had a good out come after a lamincetomy ..please dont let this scare you i am sure that the procedure they used on you is a lot more advanced that what they used on me ..even the latest surgeon said when he read my MRI that he had never seen such a bad spine cause by poor surgery !then told me .:we do things differently now: my fear is what are they going to say about back operations in the next ten years? {fusions .o god we dont do them any more?!} who knows!!
    all i know is i am in pain all the time and my life had been wrecked
    good luck
  • wow Straker
    I am so sorry to hear you're in such a bad way. I'm not in anywhere near as much pain as you seem to be, that's a terribly unfortunate outcome.

    It's true what you say though - in 10 years time who knows what the medical profession will say about fusions or the like.

    I can only wish you well, I sincerely hope you find some relief at the very least. As you say in your signature who knows what the future holds?

    Take good care of yourself
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