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4 days after surgery....is this normal?

As a BRIEF background on myself, I'm 25 and have been dealing with constant back and leg pain for a year. I herniated 2 discs last year, and have not recovered since then. After multiple injections, medications, and tests, I continued to get worse and pick up new symptoms of leg numbness, pain, motor function loss. After my visit to 3 different surgeons, I found one brave enough to take the girl with the "too critical and too unique" case that others refused. My NS decided to start with a multilevel open discectomy and hemilaminectomy in order to relieve the spinal cord compression that was down to a mere 3mm around :-(

I went in and saw this man, and within a week I was having surgery. (He came in on his day off to do this surgery because of the pain I was in.) 11/26/10 I had the surgery. I did have a few complications during surgery. Due to some medication I had been on pre-surgery, my lungs were not strong enough to make it through the entire surgery. The surgeon chose the worst level (l5/s1) and then got out. From open to close I was in surgery for 3.5 hours...on one level! That is NOT including recovery room time! My lungs would not have made it another six hours!

I woke up in recovery with nurses pushing morphine, no morphine pump. I think my throat and lungs hurt worse than anything in my back. When I made it into my hospital room, I truly felt sore, but ok. I think I had a total of 6 morphine injections in my iv before I was discharged.

I felt all went well...less pain and numbess in my left leg, incision pain only in my back, and the worst thing for me was getting in and out of bed! Because I was doing so well, I was discharged earlier than expected, and have been at home since the 28th.

My back and left leg feel great, but I'm developing a new symptom that I was wondering if anyone knows if it is normal, or something serious. Pre-surgery I had NO right leg pain or numbness. Currently, i m having INTENSE right thigh pain that feels similar to nerve pain, but its on the top and outer part of my thigh. It is not electric, does not travel down my leg, but. It is deep and throbbing pain. My thigh is somewhat swollen, but is not red or hot. I cannot even rub my fingers over that part without feeling nauseous! Is that normal to have pain switch legs after surgery? Is it nerve pain? Or a possible blood clot? With the exception of this intense pain, getting in and out of bed, and the fatigue of surgery, I feel like a million bucks! Anyone experience anything like this?

Thanks for reading,


  • based on your surgery I would worry about DVT. Don't stress but be very cautious and call the doctor.

  • Welcome home and I'm glad you got through the surgery ok.

    From my personal experience, you may feel a lot of different things in the next few weeks that don't feel normal. For instance, after my TLIF at L4/5, I was ok for a few days after I got home (I was also only in the hospital for two days) then I had such awful nerve pain in both legs that I couldn't walk, but it was worse in the right leg than left. I had to use a walker for about a week and a half and for a couple of days, even that was difficult. The odd thing was that I hadn't had that kind of pain before the surgery, but it slowly got better and went away.

    You're still very early in your recovery from major spine surgery and the first few weeks can be pretty rough. Try not to worry, hang in there and let your body recover. Those nerves in your back get really ticked off after surgery and as they try to get back to normal, sometimes they like to scream at you.

    With that said, call your surgeon for ANYTHING that concerns you so that you can at least have peace of mind that this kind of thing happens and that the surgeon isn't worried about it. And keep an eye on it, maybe keep notes, and see if anything changes for the worse. But again, don't ever hesitate to call your surgeon for confirmation whether you should see them or not.

    You've got a long row to hoe, but I know you'll do fine. At least the surgery is over, you're home and it's all recovery time now.

    Take care Emily and vent here and talk all you want. We're here to support you and help when we can.

  • please call your doctor. Dont try to guess what it might be.
    4 level posterolateral fusion L2-S1 with rods and screws and cadaver bone. Spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, sciatica, DDD, facet disease and arthritis. September 2002
  • and call your doctor to let him decide what you should do.

    Please let us know how you get on. :-)
  • If you haven't already, you need to call your doctor about this...it is not normal, and sounds like a possible blood clot.
  • Hey there...like others said, call your doctor. You don't have to "go in to his office" to get advice. They are there for you post op.

    After my 2nd microdiscectomy, I did get a blood thinner shot in the belly. I did not after my 1st.

    Pain can be from many things. Over compensating when you walk, how the had you on the operating table, or something else. I would call b/c the doctor's office will be able to ask you better questions.

    Sorry to hear they only did part of the surgery but very glad that it went well and the surgeon didn't gamble with your lungs.
  • Thanks for the advice! I waited an extra day then called my surgeon. When I talked to him, he first tried to pass it off as a bruise or sore muscle. Once I started explaining more symptoms to him, he was a bit more concered...especially because of the pre-surgery medicine lung weakness I had. Within 30 mins I was admitted into the hospital radiology department. They performed the ultrasound/sonogram test on my leg. The tech did not see any clots in the entire leg, but thought my thigh was suspicious looking. For as much Relafen that I'm on (2250mg a day!), she said I should not have this much swelling. It literally looks like a football is stuck to my outer thigh! Its not retaining fluid, or red, or bruised. Weird, huh! Anyway they sent me home from the hospital and my surgeon is supposed to call in a day or so with his thoughts on the findings.

    Has anyone had ANYTHING like this? I don't even know my next step...do I just let it go and hope that it just goes away? I've been doing all the walking I'm supposed to, withOUT over doing it, but it is to the point of causing pain when I walk. I TRULY do not feel that it is nerve pain because this is such a localized concentrated area and the size of a football, and I don't have pain OR swelling anywhere else. I'm stumped....any thoughts?
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