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Exhaustion When Exercising

greenkeyggreenkey Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi everyone,
I am almost 3 weeks out from a microdiscectomy on L5/S1. As directed by my neurosurgeon, I have not sat, only stretched out or reclined. Also, I stand and walk. I have good help from family and I'm unemployed (since October of last year) so I have no issues there. I get up and walk at least every two hours. I walk back and forth on the porch; I figured out that I walk 1.5 to 3 miles a day like this!

So, here is my question: it seems like, as recovery goes on, that I am getting weaker. When I walk now it takes very little time, just a few laps, before I feel utterly and totally exhausted. Like, I could just fall over and sleep right there. And, the other day I walked down to the mailbox when goes down a fairly steep hill, but is only about 40 feet from the front door. I came up very carefully, paying attention to posture, using a cane. But talk about exhaustion! My heart was about to burst out of my chest!

Does this ring any familiar bells with anyone? Why am I getting weaker instead of stronger with all the walking I've been doing? I've been walking more since surgery than I could before.

Thanks in advance.


  • Something doesn't sound right. Are you eating well so that your body has what it needs in order to heal from the surgery? I have made the mistake after surgery where I was so afraid to put on weight due to the inactivity, that I decreased my caloric intake drastically. Of course this in turn zapped my energy level because my body was using everything it could get in order to heal itself.

    Are you on any meds that could account for this?

    Have you contacted your docs office and asked about it? I highly recommend that you contact your doc if you haven't already.

  • Well, I have been trying to eat very healthfully. Lots of fruit/veggie smoothies with flax seed. They are very filling so they've replaced 1 to 2 meals a day. I suppose they are very low-cal which may be why I've lost 8 pounds since surgery. Although, 8 pounds in just under 3 weeks doesn't seem drastic.

    I'm taking cymbalta, robaxin, and lortab.

    But, if this doesn't sound right, I will definitely call my doctor.

    Thanks for your reply!
  • Are you getting sufficient protein from meat, fish, eggs, etc? The spine needs proteins to help it heal. I would encourage you to keep up the fruit and veggies but add in some good quality proteins. Also a multi-vitamin could help.

    There's a good article on this site on nutrition and the spine.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • :D

    If you have spoken with your doctor's office and they aren't sounding any alarm bells, then I'd have to tell you that you are where a lot of people are from time to time on this site, just tired all the time.

    I think you just need to listen to your body and rest along with eating right, drinking lots of fluids, maybe some vitamin supplements and let time past. I had two weeks where I literally stayed in bed due to exhaustion. I was freaked out about it too. The doctor put me on zoloft for anxiety and depression which over time helped me get my energy back. Due to pain, stress over losing my job, worrying about financial future - well, it was like the perfect storm of stress factors that depletes your coping ability.

    We live in this "microwave" society where everything is so fast paced and we're expected to keep up -- well, sometimes your body tells you "hell no" slow down, I'm not a corvette, I'm a corolla (LOL!).

    By the way, the summer heat may have something to do with it -- that's a zapper of your get up and go.

    Take care and feel better soon!

  • Thanks deltalady...my doctor didn't seemed very alarmed. And Trish, I think you also have a point and I have been managing my diet a bit differently.

    Delta, I think that it really is just depression and anxiety (you hit every point that's been on my mind) plus the boredom and tedium of recovery. And the heat has been terrible here the past week or so (I'm in NC). So, sometimes I just mostly stay in bed and get up every so often to take a short, VERY SLOW stroll on the porch, then back to resting.

    Sigh. This Corolla will be so glad when this is over!
  • That's good that you're managing your diet differently now. The healing period is long and tedious and the heat where you are wouldn't help.

    Hang in there and try to look ahead to better times because they do come. I'm 8 months out and I've got my life back again, but it was hard work all the way.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • doing too much .i was walking 3 miles a day after my surgery but it took me 4 years to do that now i carnt walk anywhere like that now its more like 50 meters ! take it easy
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    Three weeks is NOT a long time.
    Everyone is different, but I do know that many doctors do not expect to see much from their patients until the 6 or 9 week mark.

    They will want to start you on physical therapy as soon as possible. But remember, the surgery does effect so much of your body. Many times it takes up to a month just to be rid of the surgical pains.

    I think what would be important is that as each day goes by, you are noticing less fatigue. As you start to exercise, eat properly, go to physical therapy, you body will slowly start to respond.

    For some, it takes what seems forever, for others, in several weeks they are seeing the difference.

    Alot also depends on your physical condition prior to surgery. Many times, spinal patients are so wore down by the time they have surgery, their bodies need more time to recovery.

    In contrast, if a surgery was an emergency, out of no where, and the patient was in top shape, generally their recovery time will be much quicker.

    Dont give up or give in....

    However, what is most important, is that if YOU feel that something is just not right, you owe it to yourself to contact your doctor to discuss everything.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Ron,
    I took note of your comment about the condition my body was in prior to surgery. Weight control has been difficult for several years now due to pain flareups. So, truthfully, I was so gung ho to recover from surgery I was walking a lot more than before. I've most stopped the walking except for very slow strolls up and down the porch.

    As to diet, I've incorporated more proteins into my diet and am continuing vitamin supplements. Still feeling very exhausted. It's unbelievable when I occasionally have to climb or go down a few steps how my legs shake.

    But I feel less exhausted *in general* now.

    I appreciate all the comments here.
  • CAN i am not saying that it will ..but it can take it out of you even long after the surgery is a distance memory you can still have chronic fatigue syndrome {i have been told i have this } but i don't believe them i think that they screwed up on my last surgery but i have no proof.just don't over do it
  • I was always exhausted after my surgery on Feb 2nd. It was always my major complaint on my follow ups with my surgeon. Everything was fine as far as my healing and I was assured it was normal.

    I didn't know what true exhaustion was until I hit the 3 month mark. By that time I had returned to work, but just 4 hours per day, and was off all medications, except Calcium and Vitamin D supplements. I was usually sleeping between 12 to 14 hours each day. It was frustrating since I thought I should have been doing alot more. At my final appointment with my surgeon on April 30th, he assured me it was normal. As he reminded me, all those weeks of drug induced napping were not really sleeping and that my anxiety level about my recovery had lessened with each visit when I could see I was fusing. I had also spent the majority of my recovery in a recliner, with surgeon's permission, since I was unable to get comfortable in bed. I just gave in to it and made sure I slept when and for however long my body told me I needed.

    I had never had major surgery before this. I was expecting the pain, discomfort and boredom. I had no idea about the exhaustion. I still have days where I need to climb into bed when I get home from work but it does get better.

    You're still very early in your recovery. I'm sure you're doing everything your surgeon says and not doing what you shouldn't. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
  • Some things are considerably more strenuous than others. I always found going up stairs post op to just take the wind out of my sails. Over any other thing. I could walk 1 to 2 miles on level ground with no problem. Give me a couple of flights of stairs and oh boy.

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