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hemilaminectomy L4/L5 ...a mistake?

pennyannetteppennyannette Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi. I am so glad to have found this forum and to know that I am not alone. I never had low back pain in my life until about 1 1/2 years ago. (I'm 46) It started as pain that radiated down my leg and was not constant until about 6 months ago. Did the physical therapy for 6 weeks, then got an MRI that showed a large herniated disc at L4/L5. I was still seeing my family doctor at this point. He would only prescribe naproxen 500mg and robaxin for pain. I was able to function and work but the pain was always there and more uncomfortable at times. The pain began to interfer with my sleep so I called my doctor to try to get something else for pain. He said no but sent me to get a series of epidural steriod shots. I had about 1 month of improvement from the shots. Pain came back with a vengence. Family doctor referred me to nuerologist who looked at my mri and did a strength test by pushing on my toe while I tried to resist. He said I needed surgery and would not allow me to wait. I was shocked because although I did have pain, it was not excruciating and I was still working and functioning. i have the entire month of June off from work and wanted to wait until then but he said no way. Scared me to death by saying I'd risk permanent nerve damage etc. I asked around and my surgeons group has worked with many people in my area and everyone of them said how glad I'd be once I got the surgery done. They said I would get immediate relief etc.
So, I had the hemilaminectomy on February 3. My goal was to try to return to work in two weeks. (doc said 2-4 weeks recovery time) I'm in a fairly new postion and did not want to miss much work. Well, at almost 3 weeks post op I'm so depressed because I feel that I am in more pain then before the surgery. I dread going to sleep at night because the morning pain is so bad. I keep calling the surgeons office and they keep saying it is normal. I can tell from my latest refill scripts that the doctor thinks I should be weaning off the meds even though I keep telling his office that I am still in significant pain. I am currently taking Lortabs7.5mg every 8 hours (although, I usually can't wait that long), flexeril every 8 hours, and neurotin300mg 2xdaily.
I have new numbness on the outside of my right foot shich makes me wonder if something hasn't happened to the L5/S1 disc.
I am so afraid that I have moved in some way that has reherniated or messed something up. Feeling like I shouldn't have rushed into surgery but the doctor scared me so much that I felt I had not options...particularly without something to manage the pain.
Forgive my lengthy post. I think it is theraputic just to vent.


  • You are doing well and we are here to encourage, not many patients keep to any rate of improvement, expectation or optimism, this site is full of those disappointed in either what they planned for or the realisation of just how long recovery even at its very best takes.

    I would prefer to be told realistically how long it will take, enhancing that duration only bring disappointment sometimes with oneself when we have done nothing wrong, if the doctor said six months then any time before that we would be pleased with that progress, in your heart do you think it is realistic to be fully functional in the prescribed timescale.

    Be kind to yourself, it will take longer if we worry, it is hard to measure any improvement daily, once you feel better you can increase the pace and intensity of recovery, many are where you are now, we understand, it is not as easy as we initially imagined it would be, time........

  • Thank you for your encouragment. I'm trying to stay positive.However, sometimes it is difficult when I am in pain and read about so many folks that have had to have multiple surgeries and are still in pain. I do try to remind myself that people are more likely to post bad experiences. Typically, when all works out as expected a person would not be seeking out a sight such as this.
    That being said, I do feel that I am beginning to improve and am going to try to go back to work on Monday.
    Choosing to stay positive!!!
  • I bet if you polled everyone who has gone through spine surgery, you will find that most if not all have experienced the same fear early in recovery. "OMG did I move wrong and mess up the new repairs done by the surgeon?" I found that generally around that time or shortly thereafter, things finally start to kick in and heal quite rapidly.

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