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pain weeks after discectomy

lmp81llmp81 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hi all,

History : severe left leg pain only on sitting continuosly for a long time, started from march 2010. No back pain.

From feb 2011, the pain increased a lot and was there even if i sit, stand or walk. Hence became totally bedridden. MRI revealed fairly large disc bulge at L4-L5 pinching the left nerve. Tried bed rest for a month, oral steroids, PT but nothing worked. There was only a vry minimal reduction in pain. Hence went in for microdiscectomy as per surgeon advice on 17 march 2011. Till until upto 3 weeks after surgery i did not feel any leg pain, though always had a considerable tightness feeling on my left foot. Started walking right from the day after surgery as per doc's advice. Did no sitting, bending, weight lifting until now. Started excercises from 4'th week onwards. I started experiencing a pain in my left butt anf left pelvic area from 3.5 weeks after surgery, this pain comes when i get up from lying position and start walking, for initial few steps it hurts to keep every left step due to this pain, it fades off when i walk around a little. But comes back the next time i lie down and get up. At times i can feel this even while i am lying on bed though its very very minimal then. This pain has been bugging me for weeks now and at times i am not able to do exercises because of it. During a bad spell of pain, it becomes dificult to move once i have lied on bed for sometime. Activity wise from the fourth week i have started sitting for very less time, moving around and cooking. Am about to join work nxt week. Desk job. Please advise if there is nything going wrong thats causing this pain.


  • I avoid lying down on bed much during the day, i have noticed that once i lie down on my back for sometime the pain becomes more intense probably due to inactivity?

    Would love to hear your views...
  • Hi there..

    I've had 2 MDs at L5S1 (needed a revision).
    What I found is that as you increase activity, the pain may temporarily go back up. But be careful on bending/twisting/lifting going forward. I'm over a year out and still have to be careful on this.

    Are you going for PT? It might be helpful to ask your doctor to prescribe it because they really helped my body mechanics and exercises to safely rebuild strength without risking injury.

    In general I do not sit for more than 1 hour because it is not good even if you had a good back. So I drink lots of water at work to remind me to walk every hour even if it just for a few minutes.

    And yes, in the morning, I am quite stiff and leg is tight. But once I get moving I'm in good shape. Again, what I did here is drink water before bed so I get up in the middle of the night to move around. The other option is an 8-hour tylenol or aspircream (my incision is completely healed) overnight so I'm not as stiff in the morning.

    You are still pretty new out of surgery. Have you had your 6-week post-op? If not, bring up your pain with the doctor then. He may offer prednison b/c maybe you have some inflammation that is putting some pressure back on the nerve after heightened activity.

    If you already had your 6-week, ask for a 10-week post op. If you are really worried, tell the doctor that you would feel better if you tried PT to see if it helps and then if not, would he consider doing an MRI just to be sure everything is still 'good'.

    You may always have intermittent residual leg pain.

    I hope that's all it is.
  • thanks dnice!
    I did tell my surgeon about the pain when i went to see him 5 weeks post op. He keeps telling me to give it time to heal and to continue exercises and a lot of walking. I went to PT 4 weeks post op, he gave a set of almost 10 exercises to do three times a day, every day. Am doing the same now. I walk around the house a lot but still not sure if the walking i do is sufficient. Yes, i am taking care that i dont sit for more than half an hour at a stretch - do one round of walking in between. Also one more thing, am not if others also feel this one - as long as i manage to keep moving the pain is bearable, but if i'm inactive for sometime (i.e. I'm lying down on bed) then the pain starts getting very bad the moment i try to get moving or walking, this settles down to a bearable pain after some walking around... Also i feel generally i'm better off in the mornings. Again the pain is so random and different always that its so hard to explain :(. There are also times when the pain is not there, though such times are very limited. I keep getting worried. I dont wanna get reherniated :(. I dont lift any weights or do any bending or twisting. Its been 3 months that i havent lifted my 2 year old and i dont plan to for a long long time :(
  • I understand your fear.
    I try to be really cautious on replying because I was the statistic. The surgery didn't work the 1st time.

    That being said. Unless you fell or know you lifted or did something, they do like to wait to the 3-month mark before doing another MRI.

    Walking is really good for you. It keeps scar tissue from adhering to the nerve. Don't walk too steep a hill.

    Yes, if I sit for too long, stand still for too long, or lie down for too long, I tend to stiffen up a bit.

    Some tips:
    - drink plenty of water
    - walk, walk, walk. When I recovered from the 2nd surgery, I walked 4x/day. 10-15 mins each time on the treadmill. Then when the weather got nicer, outside b/c they say the real 'ground' is better than the treadmill b/c you use your core muscles.
    - check with your doctor but it's ok to take Advil/Ibuprofin (anti-inflammatory) and/or Tylenol (pain reliever). I came off prescription meds but found the OTC stuff is good for the various pains I have.
    -Remember that you are very aware of your pain now that you had surgery. One thing I realized is that I was focused and worried about all my pain. Then I remembered I had pain long before I herniated my disc. So now I really have a better sense of what is back/leg pain vs. just normal 'i'm getting older pain'.
    - Ice. If your doctor said it's ok, ice your back. It's good to keep inflammation down.

    And, if at the 3-month mark you are still worried...definitely tell the doctor you would have peace of mind if he sent you for a re-MRI.

    NOTE: Not sure if he told you but lower backs take a LONG time to recover. It can be 3-6 months after the MicroD.
  • Hey hey... First post... 26 years old 5'9 195lbs

    I just wanted to let you know that I have the EXACT same issues as you did.

    Felt almost pain free for first 3 weeks... went back to work very part-time (head server)... did not lift or twist.. minor side to side bending dropping off glasses and cups...

    I have seriously the same issues as you.. I'm goin back to the doctor on Tuesday for some advice/help. He wanted me to wait 6 weeks before starting PT. (40% disc removal left side)... I'm more worried now that I'm starting to get pain on right side now too...

    I'll keep you updated and hopefully give ya tips!
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