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pain but no reherniation 3 months post op

ShanCBSShanCB Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a laminectomy/discectomy Sept. 3, after a painful spring & summer. I'd fallen in April and tried to "tough it out" with predictable results. I had 2 herniated discs and a third has an annular tear. The surgeon was willing to operate on one disc. However, after my operation, the pain intensified from an average level of 6 or 7 to 8 or 9. The doctor's office kept saying my nerves were upset and to just let the healing occur, but there was absolutely no improvement. I took the oxycodone my family doctor gave me 3 at a time, and lived for an entire month flat on my back, in pain, but so wasted from the drugs I was completely useless (and didn't care if it hurt!)

Calling the surgeon's office accomplished nothing. I eventually had to drive the hour to their office to see if there was some treatment to help the pain, and so I could get off the opiates. The PA seemed to think I must be a drug chaser, because I said I needed more oxycodone (they had NEVER prescribed any before--it wasn't like I was constantly demanding it. I had in fact turned it down prior to surgery.) But I nearly became hysterical when she tried to deny me some. The PA then decided to try an Xray and saw nothing wrong. Seeing that I was about to lose it, she scheduled a nerve root block, and gave me the oxycodone.

After several days the nerve root block worked (the one prior to my surgery did not) and dealt with most, but not all, of the pain. I stopped taking the oxy and went back to work. For 5 weeks I was more or less fine.

But for the last 10 days or so, the nerve block has evidently worn off, because the pain has returned, gradually at first, and then more quickly, until I am back at level 5 pain, pretty much every second, with spikes up to 7 or so when I sit or bend or stand in particular positions. I had to demand that the surgeon's office deal with the problem, and they reluctantly sent me for another MRI.

They say there is no re-herniation, and that there's nothing wrong with me. I get the sense that they're saying that since they did the surgery there couldn't possibly be anything wrong. The other herniated disc and the tear are not addressed at all, even when I ask them, they say they see nothing wrong. Did they heal?! The PA doesn't know, and the surgeon WILL NOT call me. Ever. They think my nerve is still upset.

Could this be the case? The PA said it was outside the range of normal for it to be inflamed this long. She wants to try another nerve block, but only because I am not being a good little patient and allowing them to pat me on the head condescendingly as they say "there, there." I am seeing a neurosurgeon on Tuesday, but I hope someone here can give me some information on what could be the problem here.

The PA also put me on Ultram, and will not prescribe oxycodone. The only thing that has helped with the pain was oxycodone--it's not like I WANT to be all hazy and sleep all the time, but she really seems to think that I'm a drug abuser. I have absolutely no history of drug use and barely drink alcohol. Is this normal--do others encounter this sort of problem with doctors thinking they are just looking for drugs?

I apologize for the lengthy rant here, but I'm at the end of my rope. I've already had to delay my doctoral program, losing my funding, and have missed out so much work that I'm broke. I simply have to be able to function at a basic level, or I don't know how I will afford basic things like food for my family. The frustration is killing me--and I can see by many of the stories here that I have it easy!


  • Shane you need to get a copy of the MRI report at the very least, then take it and get another opinion. I would actually try to get your full records from this MD. Try to keep an on going set. Some people have organized 3 ring binders. That would be great.

    What kind of surgeon did the surgery? Also what levels are problematic? Did you have any other test (EMG, Flexion Xtension Xrays, Meylogram)?

    Make sure you see a fellow ship trained NS or OS. In the mean time can you go to a pain manager to handle the pain meds?

    Feel Better,

  • Hi Julie.
    I went to an orthopedic surgeon, and my L4/5 was the one operated upon, the L3/4 disc is torn and the l5/s1 is also herniated. AT least I think these are the ones--I'm short one lumbar vertebrae and different doctors have given them different labels.

    I didn't realize how much I wasn't told until I started reading this forum. I think I do need to get my records and keep a file. And I now see all the questions I should have been asking, but didn't KNOW even existed!

    I've only had 2 MRI's and one set of Xrays (not extensions, I think, because I just laid flat) none of the other tests. I will work with a pain dr., but I just don't feel like I'm getting clear answers from him either--I know surgeons have a reputation for lousy bedside manner, but I have never met a more uncommunicative bunch of people! I have to prise every word out of them with a crowbar, it seems.
  • I agree with Julie. Would be good to get another opinion so that you can get help your pain.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • my new neurosurgeon found scar tissue from the first surgery that was impacting the nerve just as much as the original herniation. He's going to try and fix it next week. Not sure how more surgery won't just create more scar tissue, but he assures me it can be lessened.

    This surgeon has been so much more thorough and explanatory that I trust him more than the first guy. Though I had trusted the first guy until he was so dismissive, rude and appeared to have actually made matters worse!)
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