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Recovering from second back surgery

imdunn2iimdunn2 Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First surgery, I went to a "top notch" neurosurgeon in my area (has since moved out of state) who had "great hands". Boy was that a joke! I had a fusion of L5 S1 and a laminectomy completed at that time. Recovery was actually fairly easy - a lot of nerve pain, but the incisions healed quickly.

Within a year of surgery, the sciatica came back in spades. Started the process of finding relief again. Pain Management doctors just wanted to keep injecting me with needles, which just made it worse. I finally found a local surgeon, specializing in both ortho and neurosurgery. As suspected, the only solution to my problem was more surgery - less than 2 years after the initial surgery. Apparently this "top notch" surgeon failed to put in enough bone graft to fuse my spine, and the screws were several centimetres too long.

With my first surgery, I was home within 20 hours of surgery (HUGE mistake), with no further testing in the hospital.

This surgery, they went in through my abdomen to place a bone graft into the fusion site, and add a cage which was not there previously. Within hours of surgery, my doctor did a standing x-ray, and determined that further surgery was necessary the next morning, through my back. The screws from the initial surgery were falling out, and they had to make more room for the bone graft that was put in.

I spent 5 miserable days in the hospital, in excruciating pain before insisting I be able to go home.

Unfortunately, it seems that pain medication doesn't seem to have much affect on me. I was sent home with Percocet and Valium, which did not lessen the pain at all. I followed up with the doctor on Wednesday and they changed me to dilaudid, which still doesn't seem to take the edge off the pain. I'm not sure how to handle it at this point. There is also a very good chance of permanent nerve damage from all of the years of my nerves being pinched in my back.

I have given birth to 4 children naturally, had 2 back surgeries in 2009 and had my gallbladder removed in 2010, and I have never felt this level of pain in my life.

HELP! :)



  • I am so sorry you are in so much pain!

    Are you taking anything for nerve pain? Neurontin, Lyrica or Cymbalta? Other meds won't touch nerve pain!

    Wishing you the very best and a complete recovery!
  • I'm so sorry to hear that you are in so much pain. One thing I've heard from multiple people is that often time when it comes to spine surgery, there is no such thing as once and done. Most people who undergo one surgery eventually end up needing more. I may end up being one of the "lucky" ones, as I'm having more pain now than I was prior to the surgery, and it appears to be another disc that is herniated.

    I'm so sorry to hear that your pain meds are not cutting it. I agree with perhaps trying something for nerve pain, if you are not already. I was in the hospital last weekend for suspected infection at the incision site, and prior to going home they started me on Neurontin, which is supposed to be for nerve pain. Unfortunately it's not working for me yet, but I'm hoping it'll kick in at some point, even if we have to increase the dose.

    As for having permanent nerve damage, it really depends on how much time has elapsed since your initial "injury." If you've been dealing with this pain for years and have let it go, then the chances of the nerves healing are slim, as opposed to someone who herniates a disc and goes for surgery within a few months.

    Hang in there. I totally understand how you feel. I went to a top-notch doctor at the University of Pennsylvania, since they are ranked #14 in the country. My issue is that I have multiple thoracic disc herniations, DDD, and arthritis. I had a two-level posterior discectomy, which seems to have helped the right-sided pain I was having. Now, however, I am having left-sided pain that is even worse than the pain prior to my surgery. However, I don't believe it's my doctor's fault. This new disc was herniated to begin with. My theory is that the surgery weakened those two discs and placed more stress on this other disc, and now that disc is acting up.
  • I've been meaning to come back after I initially read your response and reply, but I've been having a very rough time of it.

    The new medication (dilaudid) isn't working either, even with the combination of the valium. Yes, I take Lyrica, and have been for quite some time because it helps prevent my frequent migraines. Unfortunately, it's not doing anything for the nerve pain.

    My doctor's PA called me tonight at 7pm and told me to show up at the office tomorrow and they will squeeze me in to look at my abdomen and talk about other options for pain meds. They don't want me in pain, which is the first time in 20 years I can say a doctor has actually worked with me on this.

    I will be back with an update once I know what's going on.

    Again, thank you!
  • Hi Kim,

    Dangit! This laptop just deleted everything I typed - bah! :)

    I've had problems with the pinched nerve on and off for 20 years, so I don't expect a full recovery - I can only hope for a partial one. Based on your list of back problems, you sound just like me!

    I am taking Lyrica - and have been to help prevent migraines, along with a heart medication for the same purpose. Not doing much for the nerve pain though!

    I am thankful that I found a fantastic doctor who actually cares about my recovery and my pain - his entire team have been extremely supportive of me, and have asked me to walk in to the office tomorrow to take a closer look at my abdomen because I'm still in so much pain. Back pain is still there, but I'd be happy to live with it at a pain level 7 instead of a 10, but it does make it much more difficult to take care of 4 children. I'm just fortunate to have a supportive husband, and a 16 year old that understands how tough this is on me.

    I'll write more as I know more - it's 3 am, and the medication not touching the pain - YAY! I'm hoping I can get to sleep so I can make it to the doctor :)

    Hoping that you are soon pain-free!!

  • After leaving the hospitaI and on major drugs i started taking oral 2 percs ( 10/325) every 4 hours the first three weeks, then switched to 2 vicodans every 4hours ( 10/325) around the clock. After 1month, i am now down to 3 vicodans a day...

    Hope this helps, don't be afraid afraid to double up on pain pills. May give u added relief you need.

  • Thanks, Rascal - the problem isn't taking the medication as dosed - I just have a very high resistance to the medication. My brother has the same problem, and neither of us have taken a whole lot of pain medication.

    In fact, after the first back surgery, I gave up taking the medication after the first week. After gallbladder surgery in October, I stopped after 2 weeks because there was no relief at all.

    My doc changed out the valium for Robaxin today - we'll see how it works with the dilaudid.

    Of course, my docs also give me the lowest dosage possible because I don't take pain meds -
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