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"pain-insane" - poor post-op info in the UK - microdiscectomy L5/Dural tear

stripeysockssstripeysocks Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello there,

My surgery seems so small compared to what some of you guys have endured and I feel rather humbled asking you about it, but this site has been so invaluable to me, I could not think of anyone else I'd rather ask.

I'm 43 and underwent a L4/5 microdiscectomy 3 wks ago in the UK. I know we do things a little differently over here, but does this sound right to you?

Immediately after surgery I was admitted to a ward for recovery. I was told I could not sit up for 24hrs but not why. Whilst enduring horrific headaches, I snuck a peak of my notes as they had been left within reach (by mistake). Here I learned of a dural tear. I had been warned of the risk - but in a very off hand manner 15mins before the Op! I waited all afternoon and evening for my surgeon to see me so I could ask him, not just about the tear, but what kind of state my back was in, after all, he'd seen it up close and personal. I never did see my surgeon whilst recovering, just one of his team so he could sign my discharge paperwork 36hrs later. (Hospital care was poor and a whole 'nother story, I now have a life long fear of bedpans!!! - got home as soon as allowed)

3 weeks later I am still waiting to talk to someone about the actual surgery. (I have a follow up appt in March.) I am about to start PT but am experiencing huge pain episodes in what I thought was my good leg. I can walk (short distances ie to the kitchen) but cannot stand or sit upright for more than 4/5 mins before pain in lower calf puts me back on the floor. New pain has also appeared in both legs, where none had been before (pain, not legs that is!!!)

Are dural tears kept quiet in the USA or are you guys made more aware of them? Could the tear I sustained account for the amount of NEW pain I am in now experiencing in what was my good leg? - I had very little pain here pre-op.

Any advice would be wonderful - especially if you've gone through a L4/5 Microdiscectomy yourself. What would you ask the surgeon for peace of mind and assurance that all went well?

I always feel better after reading posts on this site. It's selfishly reassuring to know I am not the only one going through this and there are others out there going "pain-insane" aswell.

Kindest regards and pain free times to you all
Mandy aka stripeysocks



  • :OO Forgot to mention meds - I'm taking approx 300mg Tramadol, 150mg Diclofenac daily and Co-codamol when more reqd.
    Prior to surgery, I was taking 400mg tramadol and full daily amounts of co-codamol
  • Hi,

    I believe a dural tear is not uncommon. If it happens, it will let some spinal fluid leak which is probably why you had such headaches. Typically the headaches are an indicator that happened if they didn't notice it during the surgery.

    Anyhow, in the US, they will share (from what I know). I had a MD on L5/S1 and was fine and actually standing/walking to the bathroom within about 5 hours post op. It is normal for them to tell you to keep sitting to a minimum as a general rule b/c it does put additional load on your spine.

    In my experience (USA), I had a 2-week post op appt and a 6-week post op appt and then I believe around week 10, was 'released' from care. I had the surgery 2x b/c mine failed the first time and this was how both surgical teams handled my post-op.

    I started PT at week 6 but I've heard many start around week 4 so I think it's subjective.

  • I am in the UK too. :-) Where abouts are you?

    I haven't had a microdiscectomy, I had a fusion with decompression last March on L4/L5.

    I think the no sitting rule after any spinal surgery is normal. I am surprised that no-one explained to you that your awful headache was caused by a dural tear. Lying down flat is also required to allow this to heal.

    I totally sympathise with your now life long fear of bedpans! I also had all sorts of problems with them, and wish I had had a cathetar fitted!! :O

    It is surprising what we can learn from reading our medical notes. I discovered that my surgeon had started to remove bone from the wrong level!! When I tried to discuss it with the surgeon, he said he had to remove more bone than he had planned because my stenosis was so severe. :?

    The surgery report said he had 'inadvertantly' cut a window into the incorrect level where there was no stenosis or spondylolisthesis and so then he tested for the correct level and started working there.

    If you are getting increasing symptoms that are new since your surgery, I would definately contact your surgeon. You wouldl have been given a phone number for emergency contact when you left the hospital. It may be due to swelling which is compressing your nerves, but the surgeon should be aware of it.

    I do hope that things settle down quickly and that the rest of your recovery will go smoothly.

    Welcome to Spine Health. You have found a great place for support and information. :H

  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i have several spiney friends in the Uk. one in northern ireland and another in Wales.. it is so good you dropped in as well!! you have been given alot of good advice already so i will just say hi and hope you feel better soon!! good luck with your recovery! stop by anytime! Jenny :)
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