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xray post op...will it show much?

ouch2oouch2 Posts: 1,270
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone, I am now 4 weeks post op from a 2 level discectomy/decompression. My surgical pain (incision) is better now, but that is pretty much all that is better. Still have the same pain as before surgery (back actually feels worse) numbness in calf and foot, coccyx/buttocks/hip pain.
I have been taking it pretty easy, walking as much as pain will allow.

My doctor is sending me to have an xray. My question is whether this will really tell him very much? Xrays don't show discs or nerves so not really sure what he will be able to tell from a simple xray.Has anyone had an xray after surgery and really learned very much about the success of the surgery from it?

Thanks,hope everyone has a nice pain reduced relaxing evening.

>:D< Karen
>:D< >:-D< : Karen
L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
adr L5-S1 Feb 2012


  • I don't have an experience to share with you regarding an xray after decompression, but I just wanted to say hang in there!

    My first surgery was decompression and it definately took me a many, many weeks to feel better.

    Hang in there! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

    Wishing you the very best!

  • An Xray shows spacing between bones. So if the disc collapses or compresses further. The xray will let the surgeon measure the spacing to see if there is a change. Assuming he took one right before your surgery to compare too.

    Beyond that you correct on it not showing your discs. Usually after a discectomy they can't just go get an MRI. Insurance will give them grief. So they do an xray. If they don't like what they see. Then they can justify an MRI.

    As for some of your new found pain. At 4 weeks out. It's from the surgery itself and/or scar tissue to some degree.

    Get into PT as soon as you can and stretch gently as soon as you can.
  • Thanks Shari and Z06. I am not in PT yet, so will be definately be asking him about that at my appointment.I have been trying to walk as much as I can, but then increased pain takes over.

    Before my surgery, my first surgeon thought that I needed a fusion, but he does not do them any longer. The surgeon I ended up with said no to fusion, but recomended the discectomy. I am so afraid that it is going to end up in a fusion in the end anyway.

    Like you said Z06, xray must be the first step, once again, to see what is going on.I know he said it takes a good 3-4 months to see if I will have had success from this surgery.Just so discouraging, as I was trying to be hopeful that I would at least get 50% pain relief.

    Today, the pain is very bad, but will stive to walk and stretch the best I can today.

    >:D< to all!
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • I'm sorry you are having so much trouble too. I just got off the phone with the NP at my NS office, and she is going to get in touch with the doc to see if he wants to do another MRI. She explained to me that they typically don't do repeat MRI's this soon after surgery (you and I had our surgeries a day apart), because it will just show inflammation of the soft tissues, so they won't be able to get a good picture. I agree with what Z06 said about the x-ray.

    I'm having a tough day today too. Actually the past 2 weeks have been terrible. I developed new-onset left-sided back pain that wraps around my ribcage. Mirror image of previous pain I was having prior to surgery, but way worse and on the other side. Today the back pain isn't even the worst of it (yet). I'm having terrible sciatica in my left leg and I'm having pain and weakness in my left arm. It's really bad and I can only take Motrin, since I'm home alone with the kids. I'm feeling so discouraged. I feel like I've traded one pain for another, and I'm really becoming concerned that it's that other disc that he said has gotten worse in a two month period.

  • Pain relief is very subjective and specific to each patient. What shape your disc was in before the discectomy is the best indicator. For some they have a small herniation or tear. The body most likely will heal. Ones with big tears and/or herniations and/or disc compression. They are simply delaying the inevitable.

    The long you can wait the better. Maybe someone will come up with smart and successful artificial disc before yours gives out. That's the theory anyway...

  • I have been following your posts Kim and really feel for you. I am glad that you called your surgeon and are going in for another MRI. It is concerning to me that you are having sciatica and symptoms in your arm as well.Will be thinking of you as you have your tests as well as starting your new job next week.

    Z06, I think my original surgeon was thinking fusion due to the fact that I had a herniation, but also impingements in three places, stenosis and my facet joints are deteriorating rapidly and ddd although that is mild to moderate. The surgeon that did the surgery said that it would only help my leg pain, but unfortunately alot of my pain is back, butt, hips.Fusion does change everything, so I really did think that it would be good to try the least invasive surgery. I just worry that I am going to spend all this time trying to heal, only to go through it all or fusion all over again.

    Okay enough whining from me,I really do try to be a positive person, just gets to me once in a while.

    It is a beautiful day here today...something to smile about.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • At my appointment with my surgeon this week I had x-rays taken of my neck (surgery follow-up) and my back (it's been bothering me for a long time - pain, numbness, etc). On my neck he could show me how the fusing was progressing because you could see some white (bone) around a black space which is the plastic spacers.

    On the rest of my back x-rays he showed me with white parts showing the arthritis throughout my back. I've gotten a little confused about arthritis, DDD, etc.

    I hope you find relief soon.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • My surgeon had said the discs he operated, the herniations were actually worse than he anticipated. I hear ya on feeling like you are delaying the inevitable. They keep lecturing me on not overdoing it (which is impossible NOT to do given I have three children). He said if I re-herniate, I'm going to have to have a fusion. I'm trying to rest as much as possible. Even when I'm home with the kids, my 10-year old son is a big help.

    Did you go for your x-ray yet? I hope that they can get a good picture of what's going on and why you are still having so much pain. I'm going in for my MRI tomorrow (well, technically today), and I go for a CT scan of the thoracic spine on Monday evening after work. Glad they were able to get me in so soon, and anxious to find out what's going on.

    The icing on the cake....I'm getting sick right before starting my new job. It's all good, though, because I won't let it stop me. I have a sore throat and feel like I'm getting a cold. The problem is that I take after my Dad (thanks Dad!) and I typically end up with bronchitis when I get a cold. I just had bronchitis in the beginning of June, and it was a bad one. Fingers crossed I don't get too sick!
  • Karen,

    The herniation is one thing and depending on size really says a lot. Yeah, size matters... lol... Large herniation means taking out a lot of disc. If you're older that also effects healing and the simple fact the disc already has some compression. With some removed it gets thinner. At some point the spacing between levels gets so close you get bone on bone or you just cause more compression against nerves.

    Honestly the whole DDD argument wouldn't drive me to a fusion until it got unbearable. The nerve compression would. Nerve pain comes from hell and just camps out until you give in. Then starts causing permanent damage as a side affect. That drove me to fusion.

    As far as choosing MIS that is the smart thing to do. Small steps. Anything but surgery first. Then MIS surgery and see if you can heal through it. Like discectomy, laminectomy, etc... Then major surgery. Fusion is major and there is no take-back after. I don't care if they label the fusion MIS. It's BS ;-) Fusions hurt and take a long time to recover from. They don't fix all your problems, period.

    After fusion I lost almost all of the hip and leg pain. A little came back as my body settled. Through exercise I am keeping that at bay. The aches from bones, DDD, etc... is arthritis. It's called getting old. Getting old is not for sissies. Take an Advil and move on. I found Celebrex and all that mess just tears up your stomach and your wallet really bad. If you can get nerve pain under control. Consider yourself ahead and take care of your body. Diet and exercise.

    As for whining. I've seen your posts. Whining from time to time is an outlet. If you were a chronic whiner I wouldn't even respond. Those people are stuck in their own heads. I agree with the path you're taking. It is the most logical, sane, and least invasive.

    Give it some time, do your PT, eat right, blah, blah. If that doesn't work, then it's time to get out the hardware and glue and screw stuff together :-)

  • Karen D , Awesome that you can see fusion begining!That must have been a wonderful feeling to see that. Sorry that you also have arthritis showing in your back.

    Kim, hope your MRI went well yesterday, and all the best at your CT tomorrow, let us know how they went when you get your results. I hope that you are feeling better by tomorrow and that it does not progress into bronchitis. Will be thinking of you at your first day at work, be careful,take breaks to stretch. Wishing you all the best.

    Graham, Thank you soo much for your post. You have really put things into perspective for me. I was really conflicted before my surgery, as far as going the MIS route. My surgeon did say that it was much worse than he originally thought once he got in there, regarding the size of the herniation (l5/s1) and how compressed my nerves were, and how narrow form stenosis (?).
    Yep, getting older too does come into play, turned the big 4-0 this year.

    What I really got from your post though was that regardless of the outcome of this surgery and what may or may not lay ahead for me in the future, I DO think that I did the right thing, trying the discectomies first.

    I have been doing everything right since surgery, walking, walking, not doing BLT's,taking my meds, and resting. I am really looking forward to physio, am working on eating healthy, have been reading up on Tai Chi and Qi Gong (for the future).

    Whatever it is that the future holds for me in terms of revovery and possible other surgery, only time will tell. Thank you again for your post, I feel more at ease now that I did the first right step, not sure what other steps may or may not be in my future, but I will be ready.

    Big >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
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