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Pain after L4/L5 laminectomy, discectomy & cauda equina decompression

Mink2389MMink2389 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Spinal Stenosis
I am a 23 year old female, who due to a fall 3 years ago injured my back severely. It got progressively worse, settled for a while then 6 months ago came back with a vengeance. I had an mri which showed 3 slipped discs, protruding so badly into my spinal canal i had approx 5% nerve function remaining. I was told due to cauda equina syndrome one more fall/slip/violent sneeze & i would have no control over anything from the waist down. So here i am today 3 weeks 2 days post lami/discectomy/decompression. And i was feeling FANTASTIC with no pain except from the muscles & incision site, until 2 days ago. I woke up with a dull ache on the right side of my back, that hurts with movement such as getting up & lying down... Since my surgery ive done nothing but rest & try to stay patient! But i am absolutely terrified that i may have twisted in my sleep & caused some sort of injury!!! Currently im taking oxycontin SR 5mg (just been changed from
10mg by gp) as well as oxycodone 5mg every 4 hrs as required & meloxicam (anti inflammatory).
If anyone out there has any words of advice or similar stories please tell me! Im facing another sleepless night because of the pain in my right side & i think mentally its more tolling on me than physically!
Thankyou in advance!!!


  • Welcome to spine health.

    I would imagine that the sugeon bathed the area with an anesthetic and it finally wore off. That is what happened to me when I had my lumbar fusion. Of course I was in the hospital with much stronger meds for about 5 days before coming home and then I was heavily medicated as well.

    My advice is to take your meds as scheduled and follow the advice of your doctor. If you pain is out of control let the doctor know. I found it handy to keep a journal and a basket with my pills next to my bed so I wouldn't loose track of when I could take them.

    Hope you start feeling better soon.

  • Hi
    Having had a re-do of a lumbar deCompression on Monday morning, I came home today!

    I'm worried about every pain & twinge I get as was told I had a sub dura tear which they think caused me to have vomiting and headache for 2 days post op and kept me in hosp til this morning! I still feel nausea and don't wanna eat much at all.

    Am sure you'll b fine but make sure you contact your GP if your worried - did the hosp give you a number to call?

    The lady in bed next to me was also 23! And skinny! So much for me thinking this was an older persons problem and my mum telling me to lose weight! (she's 86 and thinks I'm now cured!)

    Doc said next op for me will b a spinal fusion but he's hoping I'll get some relief and time b4 that's necessary - me too!!!:)
  • Wow, i was in.my early 20's as well, acute cauda equina double lami, discectomy l4-5.

    Bee over 20 years and im still sore fro time to time and i just tweaked it on the weekend. Not an old persons thing at all i guess.

    Hope everyone has a speedy recovery!!
  • Thankyou so much for your kind words & advice, its definitely not an old persons or overweight persons issue! Im healthy & fit!!! Its now 6 weeks post surgery & im honestly feeling fantastic!

    Im taking it really slow as thankgod i have the luxury of being able to stay at home! I drove for the first time since surgery yesterday & no pain or stress on my spine! My wound is looking really good & will eventually age into a pencil line!

    But i must say to anyone out there reading this, if you're put in a similar situation & need surgery - DO IT - i cannot stress that enough, googling my injury before surgery made me panic as all i read were horror stories & failed surgeries! But do remember that its unlikely for people who have had success with their surgery to post about it!!!!
    (much like how its much more common to read a negative experience than an amazing one!)

    For the first time in years now - i am pain free & feeling amazing, i owe my life to my neurosurgeon & cannot wait to get started!

    If you have any questions please dont hesitate to message me, i felt so alone when i found out & none of my family or friends knew how to react but knowing there are so many people out there who have been through or are going through the same thing helped me to believe & get through the bad days!!!
  • It is really reassuring to hear your story! I'm recommended surgery for a severe rupture at L4-L5 (even by the pain management anesthesiologist who did my injections!), and I'm a nervous wreck about it. Many people are telling me not to wait too long, because the nerve issues in my lower left leg may become permanent. I'm trying very hard to wait, though, and give much less invasive methods a chance to work, first.

    BTW: I'm just 29! Definitely not an old person's thing! LOL
  • I appreciate your post & can completely understand what you're going through it is a truly terrifying thing to be fronted with. After my injury my osteo & physio told me surgery was always a last resort & i knew no better, so I waited 3 years & someone must have been watching over me because even my neurosurgeon had said it was a miracle my spinal canal was as wide as it is because otherwise paralysis would have already occured. If you want to wait, i definitely recommend getting either a ct scan or mri every 4-6 months just to make sure that your condition isnt worsening!
    Surgery is a last resort - but if i had put it off any longer, id most likely be a 23 year old in a wheel chair with no control over my bowel or bladder & sexual dysfunction!

    So i feel for the scary tasks ahead of you!
    I'm always here if you need advice :)

    * my advice is only from my own experience as i am not a medical professional*
  • Hi mink. Just want to say I am real happy for you and your successful recovery. If you dont mind me asking can you tell me how well you did in weeks 3-5? I just had a bilateral laminotomy/microdiscectomy in L4/L5 three weeks ago. The surgeon removed a disc fragment that was crushing the nerve and dented it. I had some incremental relief initially but symptoms have been getting progressively worse since then. Seems like surgical pain being replaced by sciatic pain - in buttock, hip, and sometimes leg. Am concerned this is a failed surgery . Doc has me going in for a MRI with contrast as a precaution t make sure noherniation because of severity of symptoms.

    If anyone has had similar experience and has anything to share it would b greatly appreciated. I really wish everyone who is going through a painful situation that they have better days soon.
  • Hi Greel,

    I am sorry to hear about your pain, I was perfect after surgery (just with general surgery soreness) UNTIL week 3, when i woke up with pain...Just out of the blue, Your surgery sounds alot like mine I also had a disc fragment removed. Weeks 3-5 were uncomfortable but settled! My surgeon told me it was completely normal to have pain for up to 8 months after surgery considering that decompression of the nerve is major work. ( thinking about it, and knowing how sensitive nerves are, just imagine how much it must irritate them when during surgery they touch & move them!!!.) I didn't drive for 6 weeks after surgery or bend, i pretty much lay down every day & gradually increased my walking ( at the shops & around the house).

    Fingers crossed you haven't had a reherniation! I am now in my 8th week after surgery & have just gotten back into Pilates & walking, and although i am starting incredibly slowly i still get pain at night time. (minor , but slight sciatic pain to just above my knee)...pre surgery it was into my foot). I do wish you all the best, please keep me updated on your progress!!!

    This website was what gave me hope when i was having pain, so if i can help in any way i will!
  • Thanks a lot mink. I am starting to suspect that I have irritated the nerve by overdoing it. I thought I would be able to get back to work after two weeks so I pushed myself to walk every day despite the pain that started in my low back and radiated to my legs after 2 minutes. I have been standing and typing on my computer five minutes at a time and. I have also been walking a lot as I have been worried about scar tissue and been trying o help my poor wife around the house. I will talk to doc again about that, to anyone reading this post pls make sure you get clear instructions for post op. I have asked the pts and surgeon numerous times what it means to not "push it" and they say if you feel pain stop. I do that, but the problem is I get pain so quickly that by the time I get to the bed the pain has doubled from the walk. And I was clearly told it's notvgood to lie down all day so I tell tge doc I get up a lot and he said good. He said I wont be able to stand for 10-14 minutes but he didn't say not to. And he has tiold me to try to sit for 10 minutes at a time and he seemed surprised that I cannot sit for 2 minutes.

    You know, as I read my own post I wonder if I am being a complete idiot and i have complicated my own recovery with my routine. Sorry, enough rambling, going to bed.
  • I only just saw this post now, so sorry for the delayed response. The one thing i clearly remember my surgeon & doctors saying was 'BE PATIENT'. And it was one of the hardest things for me, i lay down for 30 mins at a time then got up for 5 mins and lay down again.... You need to remember that its all raw in there & fresh! So your body just needs time to heal. In my situation my Doctor said the only worry they had recovery wise was that i didnt lie down for 4-5 hrs at a time! So please dont over exert yourself, i cant imagine going back to work after only 2 weeks. Your body has been through alot & you owe it to yourself to just take it easy... And more than anything listen to your body!

    I hope your pain is settling & you're feeling better!!

  • Thanks mink. Glad to hear you're doing better. It's always good to hear succes stories.

    As fo me, I just spoke to the doctor to discuss néw MRI. Strange,no reherniation but doc says there s something on the nerve in area he worked, could be capsule of something that formed as part of the healing process, or a tiny fragment, or possibly part of a dissolvable suture. Says it will dissolve by itself. I am dumbfounded and dont know what to do. I forgot to even ask how long it might take. I am debating whether to see another surgeon (the surgeon I ALMOST went with at NYU Langone, arrrrggggh) I am concerned that the HSS surgeon missed a fragment. He doesnt want to do another procedure. I am still in a lot of pain and cant sit. Running out of options

    To all who are reading - I agree with mink that surgery is right option for s lot of people. As for me, I had no choice but to do this because my whole right leg burned and was numb a lot and if anything I waited too long. Maybe that is part of my problem. My frustration is that I am still in a lot of pain but I might just be unlucky r maybe I hsve other things wrong with me that are not caused by the disc. I have spoken to about a half dozen people who all knew someone who had this prcedure and it gave them their life back. One friend of mine felt great the moment he got up and never felt leg pain again. Sob stories like mine are what you usually reafd on these forums but it doesnt mean there are not people that get better - and they go back to their normal lives and don't post here. Every one has to make their own decision based on their pain and the advice of their surgeons.
  • Oh i feel for you, i can't imagine the prospect of having another surgery so soon. Please keep me updated on what happens. I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Mink, I have a question. I'm about to have a 4 level laminectomy, have some bone spurs removed and he said he will likely use rods and screws to stabilize everything. Not removing discs, just trimming them, but I'm going to ask him about replacing my discs with artificial ones since I have DDD.

    But my question is this - if you could only lye down for 30 minutes at a time - does that mean at night too? If so, how long am I in for no sleeping 6-8 hours (or staying in bed that long - but actually if I take my muscle relaxer and pain pill at bedtime, I usually can sleep through the night). This only 30 min at a time sounds scary to me!

    And how are you doing now?
    I am who I am!
  • Oh dont be stressed, nights are fine!!! My medication made me so exhausted i usually passed out at around 7.30 & got a good 12 hours! Hardly moving at all the entire night!
    But what i would recommend is a body pillow,
    I feel you can position yourself with alot of support & i was really comfy with one, it was a life saver for my first 2 weeks after surgery!

    I feel fantastic now, i can confidently say i have no pain!!! Apart from random muscle tightness in my back when ive over done it a little. But i do wish you all the best, please keep me updated on your progress, ill keep you in my prayers!
  • Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I was afraid that meant getting up every 30 min at night and I'd never sleep! LOL, should have known better. It is refreshing to hear how good you are feeling and that gives me sooooooo much hope.

    I sent you a PM

    Thanks again!!
    I am who I am!
  • Mink2389 said:
    Oh dont be stressed, nights are fine!!! My medication made me so exhausted i usually passed out at around 7.30 & got a good 12 hours! Hardly moving at all the entire night!
    But what i would recommend is a body pillow,
    I feel you can position yourself with alot of support & i was really comfy with one, it was a life saver for my first 2 weeks after surgery!

    I feel fantastic now, i can confidently say i have no pain!!! Apart from random muscle tightness in my back when ive over done it a little. But i do wish you all the best, please keep me updated on your progress, ill keep you in my prayers!
    Hi Mink,
    I just wanted to thank you soooooooo much for the advice and all the support. You've made me feel much better about the upcoming surgery although I don't think you ever stop being nervous and apprehensive about back surgery. I'm so glad we've become friends, you're the experienced back surgery patient so you are my mentor! :)
    I am who I am!
  • Morris56MMorris56 Posts: 1
    edited 05/31/2013 - 5:29 AM
    I had an L4/L5 disectomy and laminectomy four and a half weeks ago and started physiotherapy at three weeks. Since I've been doing the excercises I've started to get discomfort and 'scratchy' burning sensations around the oporation site and, although I'm doing exactly what the physiotherapist told me, I wonder if I'm overdoing it. Also, although the scar has healed well, it still feels irritated, especially when I'm lying on the bed doing a pelvic tilt excersise. As well as this, after walking a good distance I get a lot of stiffness in the lower back, and my question is are these sensations normal 4-5 weeks after the oporartion?
  • Three months ago I had an L-3, L4 & L-5 Laminectomy for severe Sciatica. No fusion since I had no spinal instability. Aside from stiffness in the lower back, I've had very little discomfort. Within a few days after the surgery, I was walking a couple thousand feet a day. By the end of the first week I was up over a mile a day. I did three weeks of rehab and now go to the gym 3 days a week. I'm back to doing just about everything including cutting firewood, shoveling gravel, mowing the lawn - all things that I was unable to do for about a year before the surgery. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a successful surgery and such a quick recovery. Not all back surgery is a dismal failure. I still have some stiffness in my lower back, particularly if I sit for any length of time. And sometimes my thighs feel like I've climbed 10 flights of stairs. But all that's improving with time. And it's a helleva lot better than the Sciatica I endured for a year.
  • I had a lumbar disc decimpression which is a laminectomy from L3 to L5 on March 19/15. Tomorrow will be 4 weeks. It was done as a day surgery. I had so much nerve pain with walking plus numbness in my calves and feet. Before I left the hospital I had to get up and walk to the bathroom. Even though I was half out of it the first thing I noticed was no nerve pain. I felt like I died and went to heaven. I got better each day, however I noticed this past maybe week I get a dull ache just above my left knee and my back where I had the surgery is warm. I had 25 staples which were taken out in two stages. I don't know if there is inflammation inside my back which is causing the throb. I know it is from the nerve I can tell. My back is sore quite a bit but I think it is normal with them cutting your backache, pulling your muscle open and cutting some of the bone and soft tissue that was pressing on the nerves. I iced it today. I only took pain meds (perks) for 1 week after surgery and am taking Advil for the past 3 weeks whenever it hurts too much. I find the incision is sore when sitting and driving because IT rubs the incision and the surrounding area. First post op visit is April 22. Before the surgery the doctor told me I would be able to sky dive after 4 weeks.
  • hairy harryhhairy harry Posts: 4
    edited 07/25/2015 - 10:04 PM
    Hi all i had my first discestomy on l4/l5. All was well initially. Just the odd trobbing in my back were i had surgery. As i live alone it was hard to adhere to post op treatment but i was pretty good. Only failure was if friends called. they cldnt iunderstand not been able to sit so i may have sat some days for too long. i did go walking and had no pain. In bed some nights i would get a twitch my knee on my right leg were i had the surgery. i was doing very well i thought. Then i had a personal tragedy in week 8. stupidly took up smoking again and have been smoking since. On week 9 of my post op treatnent i was coming down stairs,lost my balance and fell two steps grabbed on to bsnnisters to break my fall.Once i got to bottom of stairs, thought no more about it even went for walk. did shopping next day which involved lifting, this was week 10, went walking agn about a mile. most of week was similar. until one night i got up to go to toilet and my leg seem to give way, limped to bathroom but was not able to sit down on toilet due to extreme pain in my right buttock.all that day and night my leg and bum were so painful went to gp next day. he gave me arcoxia. but the pain got so bad he then put me on ixycontin 10mg. no help. Made appt eith surgeon he couldnt understand why mso much pain as he had got .r.i.me to move leg etc but he said he would send me to a hospital near me for a m

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  • Hello. I recently had a laminectomy of my L4 & L5 with the spinal fusion and all the fun toys that come with that!

    I'm 5 days post and had the most horrible pain in my left butt cheek that I believe I have ever experienced. It almost dropped me to the floor and I hobbled and limped back to my bed as quickly and calmly as I could. That Jeff wouldn't let me beat any weight. Having never had this surgery before, I was hoping I might find some advise before I go off half cocked! I took to oxy at 10 pm and abother at 2 am. I'm not sure if this could be where they harvested my gaft perhaps, I've always had severe issues in my right leg - which feels fantastic btw - but never in the left leg. I have a wonderful doctor who calls to check in ne abs his nurse called another along with hospital here. They gave an orthopedic hospital , so their staff is trained to handle special issues.

    Well, I'm done. Hope someone can calm me down. Still can't lie in my left side and I've never had that problem.
    Julie Love
  • Hello, thank you all for sharing. The first 4 weeks I felt pretty good. I just noticed a stiffness and pain which has me terrified I have reherniated the disc. Then I remembered how surgeons often bath the area in anesthesia or steroids. I am hopeful that is all it is. I can't imagine having another operation. I hope this will improve over time. I am looking for a PT person now. Or even Pilates to strengthen my core. Thanks again
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
  • I also had emergency L4/L5 discectomy and laminectomy due to caudal equine syndrome. I am 37 and my surgery was almost 3 months ago. My surgery and recovery were a breeze and I am so grateful to have my life back! I would consider myself pain-free but I have been experiencing an aching pain in my hips/pelvis at night. It is keeping me awake and gets pretty bad at times (although compared to my previous pain it is very mild!) Has anyone else experienced this? I wonder if the change in the structure of my spine is causing some sort of misalignment? I see the surgeon agin in 2 weeks but he only seems concerned about whether I have sciatic pain or any loss of sensation (thank God I don't!). When I went to the ER I had lost sensation below the waist and the neurologist told me the next day that when he saw me he wasn't sure if I would walk again. As he told me this I had already taken a walk through the halls of the hospital. I was 4 hours post-op. Soooo, I feel like I received a miracle and I can definitely live with my current pain, but the surgery has also taught be that I don't necessarily HAVE to live in pain.
  • slgibbs2003sslgibbs2003 Charleston, SCPosts: 1
    I had this same surgery and situation. I'm now 3 weeks into recovery and experiencing hip pain in my right side too. How are you now and did you find out what was causing the hip pain? I'm worried I've possibly overdid it as I'm constantly walking up and down stairs at my house and have a puppy that I'm raising. I'm terrified to do something to cause me a) loss sensation again or b) have to have another surgery. As this was the scariest thing I've ever been through but so grateful to have regained feeling in my legs and saddle area after surgery. As well as to have had instant relief after the surgery! 
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Hello sigibbs2003 !
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Good luck with your continued recovery!
    Just curious..did doctor give you any restrictions with your actives post op?

    You may be interested to read...Recovery the Most Important Phase.
    You can find with search, upper roght on page.
    Spine-Health Moderator
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