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Lumbar Lateral Shift

gilbertoggilberto Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
I posted in March 2 weeks after my L4/L5 discectomy and stated I was pain free and walking fine.

Unfortunately, within a week of that post I developed a complication; an acute lumbar lateral shift (almost 3 inches) which was much more painful than the original leg pain! I needed Tramadol and Methocarbamol for my predicament, which would knock me out. I would go to bed at night and wake up 12 hours later in the same position completely seized up. It has taken me 5 weeks so far to correct the shift using intense manual (extremely painful) physiotherapy. I am told that the shift is 'not uncommon' and due to muscle spasms, and was my body's response to the operation and the recovery process.

Now 9 weeks post op, and the shift has about quarter inch still to go. Following that, I need to wean myself off the Tramadol (great stuff but I am addicted). Still no leg pain from the discectomy, and still on my original self-imposed 12 week recovery target.

Has anyone else had a lateral shift of the lumbar spine? If so, happy to discuss.



  • Hi there...sorry you had a set back but glad you are feeling like you are moving back in the right direction.

    I have not experienced what you mention but I will say that I know core muscle strength is key to staying good after the microD. Your walking regimine is also good.

    It's so good that you have a target to get off the tramadol...I found it's the best thing to do (as long as you discuss how you taper with your doctor). I was never on that drug but was on valium, percoset, and tylenol with codeine. I'm over a month of being off but some days it is so tempting to take them for quick fix of pain. I found that if I can walk, ice, rest, shower, stretch...I'm able to overcome the 'flare up' with just regular tylenol or ibuprofin.

  • Hi there

    I have about a 7 year history of herniated disks, disk bulge and for the last 2 years occasional lateral shifts of 0.5 - 2.5 inches.

    This all started when I changed career and began doing long hours on the PC, frequent and long car journeys and no excersise.

    The last one was about a month ago, shortly after starting a programme of physio and core strength as a long term preventive measure, but likely I overdid it.

    It was quite a severe shift about 2.5" to the right and very painful to even walk. Painkillers didn't help, but a few days of rest and ice and it was down to about 1 quarter inch.

    Its basically stayed at that position since.

    Each day I walk for 30 mins at normal pace. I swim 1 mile 2-3 times a week, I do 30 mins power walk at 5% incline 3-4 times per week. I do specific physio & core strength 3 times per day. I physio & massage at L4/L5 each week. I have D shape back supports on all chairs. I have invested in a proper mattress

    My core is much stronger, Im able to work, my back is 'ok' , manageable other than in the mornings (very stiff) and odd days I need Ice.

    But my navel is still a quarter inch to the right of where it should be and I struggle to put socks on or tie shoe laces, or turn over in bed without pain. Sneezing is complete trauma!

    I take prescription codeine & paracetamol when its really bad but resist the urge to take them daily even though on a average day it makes my back feel normal which is great, I know the pain always comes back

    I'm 39, in good shape and wondering what the best course of action is

  • Craigs,

    Now 5 months post-op and have a similar regime of excercise and core strengthening. I think my current aches and pains are a legacy of all the physio I had to do to get the lateral shift corrected, and whilst I got straight after 6 weeks or so, I recently pulled a muscle (sneezing!)and went shifted again (this time only by half inch, not the 3 inches as before).

    Originally I was not allowed to carry out any core strenghthening stuff until I was straight, because all I would be doing is reinforcing the muscles in the shifted position. This made perfect sense to me, and I waited until I corrected the shift prior to strengthening my core in the correct position.

    Currently nearly straight (again), and then back on the excercise regime. In my experience, time is the greatest healer of muscle problems, and I know 6 weeks is the standard healing time quoted. I was also advised not to overdo the excercise, and taking a day or two off is okay! I am also careful to get up from my desk every hour or so and stretch / walk for a few minutes, and try to maintain good posture when sitting.

    All the advice I have been given has been from my physiotherapists who work as a team with the neurosurgeon who did my discectomy, so I am confident that I am being advised correctly. I have also been told that there is no reason why I can't regain full movement again, although like you, still have a bit of difficulty with shoes. etc.

    I am prepared to have future muscular problems in years to come, but happy to deal with this if the discectomy remains successful.

    Hope this comment helps.
    Ian G
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