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Recovery ups and downs, more downs than ups? Moan!!

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi all,
I know some of you will remember my details but here they are again! (Not sure how to do a signature, bit of a forum dummy).
May 2006 Acute sciatica diagnosed (wrongly I now suspect) as piriformis syndrome, most symptoms greatly relieved after about 6 weeks. Cramps (Charley horses) in affected side's calf, hamstring etc ever since though and no one made the connection!
April 2009 Sciatica returns, this time MRI reveals disc herniation L5S1 and symptoms are awful for a good three months. Then some gradual improvement so I decided not to have the PLIF on August 4th. About 6 weeks later constant pain in my other hip so end up going for surgery on October 16th.
Recovery has been really slow (I think anyway!). I got a wound infection 11 days post op which didn't need cleaning surgically but it lasted for about 5 weeks and leaked like crazy. The surgeon restricted all my activity so that I didn't drive the infection inwards.
I finally got to start exercising in earnest about the start of December! I took it steady, building up the distance I walked and swimming a little bit and had the usual ups and downs.
Back to work as a teacher 4th Jan. I was on half days for the first two weeks then back to full days. This was a real down time for me. The first month or so I would go to work then come home and rest. All I can say is I am lucky to be part time so that not all the days were full days. Work provided little support and as I teach Science a lot of my lessons are very active. I spent February half term holiday in a lot of pain again!
Then I had a fairly good spell. I managed to increase my swimmimng distance to post injury levels and could swim, work and walk the dogs all in the same day! I felt really positive! Some days I didn't even need paracetamol.
Easter Sunday and Monday- a massive downer! I think my psoas muscle went into spasm (although I didn't know it at the time) and I spent tow whole days in bed back on the codeine! I went for a bit of physio which didn't do much but found out on the forum it was likely to be psoas so did a bit of stretching by myself. By the Wednesday I had managed to walk the dogs again but didn't dare try swimming.
Then my Mom (who had secondary breast cancer) suddenly hot a lot worse and had to move to a hospice. That meant that I had to drive there and back every day (50 miles each way) for the next 11 days. Obviously this wasn't good for my pain but I had no choice. She died after 11 days and then the pain got worse again.
I ended up having to have three weeks off work sick as work made it difficult for me to have time to help with funeral arrangements and I was pretty stressed out.
Anyway, since then I had a few days where my pain wasn't too bad but the last weeks or so I am back to being in a lot of pain.
All across my lower back, round my hips, into my lower abdomen and some pain down the front of my thigh. I have also had a bit of aching round my knees and ankles. This pain isn't like the pain of sciatica (the codeine does actually help for instance) but it does really hurt!
I can't lean forwards from standing or kneeling so it is quite restrictive and I get sudden sharp pains when I am walking about.
I tried not walking the dogs for two days but then when I went again I was back to my immediate post op pace (ie hardly moving!). I haven't swam either. It doesn't seemt to get better with rest or with activity. And the psoas stretches just hurt too much! I haven't walked the dogs for three days again now.
I can't take codeine and function so I just have to grin and bear the pain at work but it is hard to be patient with the kids when my back hurts like this.
So, I am 8 months post op and feel like I did when I was 2 months post op. I am sooooo fed up right now. I wonder if you can store grief in your back and that is why I can't shake it off. All I want to do is sleep. And wake up and it all be better. I am worried in case something has gone wrong inside and just so frustrated at the pace of my recovery.
And, yes, I know it could be worse. I know that the pain I had last year was worse pain but this pain still hurts and it still restricts what I can do.
Sorry to moan on but I really needed to vent. I am going to see my GP this morning and hope that they can help.
Thanks for listening guys.


  • Well, I went and saw the GP who, I think, is from the stoneage! She told me that as I have had a back operation I have to expect constant back pain for the rest of my life and that is that. Well, I am not sure that is right is it? I am sure that my surgeon never said that in the many consultaions. Also, why had did I have a period with no pain only for all this pain now? It just makes no sense to me.
    Oh and she also told me I have moderate depression. Well, Doh!! I could have told her that. Bet she hasn't spent the last year in pain!
  • Sorry that you're still hurting heaps and I believe stress/grief can increase pain levels.

    Are you walking your dogs on leads? That will constantly tug on your back. I have dogs and am lucky that I have a big park which is also a dog exercise area and they can be off lead. I drive them there and then let them out of the car. Are you able to do this?

    I would leave off the psoas stretches for now because they could be aggravating your back. I really like my physio but some of the exercises he gave me really hurt my back. Some I could do and others I had to modify. I've now started some Tai Chi and that helps.

    When do you see your neurosurgeon again or have your been signed off? I was signed off at 6 months but by then I had fused. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction and I fall into that category.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Hi Trish! Yes, thankfully, there is a nice place 10 mins drive away where I take the dogs. They are pretty awful on the leads (so probably how I ruptured the disc in the first place!) so I have been going there for a while now.
    I have left off the stretches and pretty much everything. I am just trying to listen to my body and it really seems to be telling me to rest so that is what I am doing!
    I am going to start seeing a new therapy person next week and I have an idea that she will be able to help. I have heard good things about her approach although I might be in a "got to get a bit worse to get better" situation. Apparently she does IMS, something with needles that helps to release muscle spasm. I sure hope so!
    I don't see my surgeon again till October and, tbh, I don't think he would have much to say. Whenever I have moaned at him about muscle type pains he just sort of shrugs like it is par for the course.
    Thanks for your thoughts.
  • That's good that you're going to see a new therapy person soon who has a different approach. I don't know anything about IMS, but anything that helps to release muscle spasms would be great.

    For several months, I was getting severe muscle spasms in the thoracic area, above the fusion site and couldn't sit for long. I'm very much better now, and I'm glad that I worked in with my physio and found ways to relieve that area.

    That's so good that you've got a nice area to exercise the dogs. I think part of my trouble was all the constant lead pulling with my dogs over the years too.

    Keep listening to your body and resting when you need to.

    Let us know how you go with the new therapist.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Nel,

    I am sorry about the loss of your mom. What a terrible thing. I can only imagine this has moved your recovery back somewhat. I think any time we carry a great deal of stress, it effects our whole body. I hope the new therapist can help. If not, can you see a different GP or explain the differences in your pain levels to your Surgeon? Not that it does me any good with my surgeon, he sounds suspiciously like yours. Either way, keep us posted.

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