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Laminectomy and microdiscetomy

jcec28jjcec28 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi i just wanted to write about a positive case of back surgery. I've been having terrible back pain and leg pain for a little over a year. I tried everything, from physical therapy, chiro to epidural injections with no improvement. at the beginning it use to hurt more if i seated, it was hard to find a position where it didnt hurt and standing up brought some ease. later it hurt more if i walked for more than 5 mins and stayed that way until i explored having surgery.

I refuse to take narcotics as a solution for the rest of my life so i explored and did some research to select my surgeon. let me backtrack a bit. My PCP did some tests and it showed a herniation between l4/l5, and thats how got into epidural injections. they were amazing but they only lasted for 4-6 weeks and i would be going crying to the Dr for more. and the more i got the less it lasted. so i decided for surgery.

I just wanna say, dont settle with just one opinion. get second and third opinions, like i did. the pain Dr recommended surgery, so the next Dr (ortho) but he was more interested in cashing in so I moved on to a Dr with good patient manners that at least made me feel confortable. Im not a science dummy, I am a former pre-med with a PhD in Bio so i understand a lot about biology, medicine and the human body. so the next Dr took the time to explain what i already knew about the procedure, explained the risks, benefits and left the decision to me instead of shoving it down my throat.

So I went ahead book surgery and as everyone here, i too was very nervous. so the day came, they walk you in and they bring u to the OR, butt naked and when u wake up you are in a bed with a little pain and discomfort and all drugged up with a drug pump if u need more pain med. in bed i did not experience the numbness i usually felt while laying down. Im not gonna lie, you cant even push yourself in the bed much less raise your body. the meds help a lot with the pain. the next day or the same day they make u get up and its painful but you can definitely walk, it hurts to sit a lot but it gets better as you sit longer, without help i was able to get up the bed, sit but you cant do it with ease. when i took my first steps, i almost cried, no pain down my leg and i knew that that pain was weakness leaving the body. you have to pump the meds with the button and it hels but it makes you sleepy.

again sitting hurts but it gets better. once you go home getting on and off the car hurts like a bitch but you feel much better once you get to bed and sleep it off. backtracking a bit, when the therapist came to see me they made me walk up the stairs, go to the restroom, sit up and down and try to get on and off a mock car before clearing me to be discharged. my ride home was just 20 minutes but had to go to the drugstore and i walked like an 80 yr old terribly stiff. thats how pretty much is the first 2 days.

you have to take the meds as frequent as u can in my case i was on percocets two pills every 4 hrs. that kept my pain under control. its just discomfort but you can def walk, sit with some discomfort and sleep. the drugs makes y sleepy, and i tried to walk up and down and inside the house as much as i could. walking didnt hurt, just stiffness. i didnt have a brace just a dressing with some tape. the area was stapled and they kind of hurt while laying down for the firts 3 days, then u get used to it.

by day 5 i decreased the percocets and muscle relaxers and by day 7 i was up, not much pain and i walked 3 mi with no pain down my leg. i came home no pain, got up next morning no problem. now i get up the bed almost as normal but still im very careful.

ohh and i almost forgot, u cant shower for 2 weeks. i hate sponge baths so i wrapped myself in saran wrap and take and carefully showered without wetting the incision.

ohh i also read that there could be residual pain due to the jerking of the nerve during surgery, but i had none of that. if your surgeon is good he'll know to be careful and gentle.

I wanna recommend everybody to consider surgery, dont be afraid, just get the best dr u can. i did some research. my dr at johns hopkins university was voted top 50 by his peers and jhu is pretty good also. i just happened to live in baltimore but this days there excellent Drs in every state. do your research, ask questions.

I am a healthy 31 yo male, 220 lbs, healthy. all the way thru my surgery i worked out even with pain. i did pilates so i had a strong core. it helped with my recovery. i never let the leg pain regardless of how hard it was to control my life. i jogged, walked on the threadmill, tour cities even with pain. i learned to ignore it but i refused to live in pain forever. maybe its too early to call it victory but now on ill be careful and take care of my back to prevent re-herniation.

I decided to publish my story because somewhere i read someone complaining that everything he read was mixed and very seldom succesful so i wanted to bring my story to the light to give hope to those in pain like i was. i know its a terrible disease so hang on and get surgery with a good surgeon. and be careful with the post-ops recommendations. if you guys have any questions just ask, ill be glad to answer them. Best of lucks! Julio


  • Hi there...glad to hear you are doing well.
    It is nice to hear of success stories with surgery.

    I think surgery, especially back surgery, is a personal decision. It's good to hear how you came to your decision and your success to date.

    Keep pacing yourself. The first few months are the riskiest with recurrence.

    Much like you, I do not like meds but contrary to you, I don't like to jump into surgery and if I do, I prefer as conservative as possible.

    I totally agree that folks need to do their homework.
    Talk to different doctors - understand the options, the risks with each option, what next if the option presented doesn't work, what other options if you don't take the doctor's advice.

    Also, sounds like your doctor was very clear on teh recovery process. This is key. Microdiscectomy, discectomy, laminectomy, whatever...it is so key not to push it but to walk to keep scar tissue off the nerve. It's key, like you said, to be careful getting out of bed. Twisting, bending, lifting, sitting are all the back sufferer's nemesis.

    I was in amazing shape before I ruptured my disc. Unfortunately I was an extreme case. They actually thought I'd do well b/c of the shape I was in and unfortunately I ended up with a 2nd surgery. I faired a bit better with the 2nd surgery because I did a lot that you did...I took more time with my decision.

    Never too early to call victory - as long as you are wise (as you sound) on protecting your back through modifications in lifestyle.

    Keep us posted on your continued progress!!!
  • Hi there,
    THanks for your comments. I'm still doing well. I agree, surgery should not be the first line of treatment and it is a very personal decision and a very important one that shouldn't be taken lightly.

    I am walking more and more but I notice some occasional pain on my hips and my lower back, but the pain is different, more like muscle soreness. I guess since the muscles are still recovering from the surgery the surrounding muscle groups are compensating for the work. I tried not to sit for too long, but lately I have and its part of the soreness, it is more stressful to the back when compared to standing up or laying down, thats part of it.

    I do get some leg pain here and there but its like a 0.5-1.0/10 and it goes away as soon as i rest and after i take a muscle relaxer before going to bed. My buttocks feel sore after walking for ~2 miles in the same spot where it used to hurt but no nerve pain there. I guess the nerve is waking up after the surgery (I read they dump some numbing meds and other stuff in the wound, and that after 1-2 weeks the nerve wakes up and if it was damaged by being compressed for too long it would hurt), but I do not feel the searing pain that I use to feel daily (8/10). I do feel a ghostly feeling pretty often reminding me where it used to hurt so bad.

    Today i had the staples removed and my back feels awesome, the incision is completely closed and healing normal...shower time!!!. It feels much better not having something poking you while laying down or sitting. I think the staples were grabbing on something cause walking doesn't hurt as bad as it did before. The PA told me I was doing great, that I should take it easy with absolutely no bending twisting or lifting for at least 2 months. I have read that the residual pain should go away in a matter of months, but even with that little pain, i feel like my quality of life has improved dramatically.

    I do feel some instability in my back, which manifest itself when i lay down...when i try to turn in bed i feel like my pelvis position/spine/discs is/are out of whack and the disc or something in that area pops more frequently but its not painful, just some discomfort, no biggie.

    I think surgery should be the last resource, but in my case I tried everything written in the book: drugs, therapy, epidural injections and nothing seemed to work. Its too early to call victory cause my chances of re-herniation are 10% so I am taking no chances/risks...I keep proper posture, I get up carefully, i do not push myself to the point of pain. and the only workout at the gym is walking, no running yet.

    I'll keep you guys posted. I'm having my second post-op in a month from today. I hope I keep doing well, cause re-herniating my disc would be devastating, specially because of the time off necessary for recovery. The PA told me this story about a guy that was doing great after 2 weeks and went and lifted a canoe and blew up is disc, needing an emergency surgery. So guys don't push it, you'll feel very able to do everything but don't try to lift, cause it can make things worst.

    So far so good, I'll keep my fingers crossed. To all of you guys, I hope you find relieve in the many different treatment options available. Some individuals are lucky after physical therapy, quiropratic or epidural injections...not me...

    Take it easy and Happy Holidays!!! May the New Year bring health and relief to all of us!!!
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