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Laminectomy and spinal decompression

Hi I'm new here. Looks like a great forum.

I need advice and encouragement if anyone can. Here's my story:

About 12 years ago I had cervical fusion of c4-7 (I think it was 4-7). It was hard, it was painful but I coped and 12 years later still have neck pain but nothing even close to the pain I have now ....

On Feb 8, 2012 I had a "Laminectomy and spinal decompression of L3-5 and S1" (what my chart said) and the pain - four months later - is driving me crazy. For a while it seemed to get better (until about the beginning of May) but I'm not doing great at all now. Most of the pain seems to be "muscular" (like a hot burning sensation in the lower back) and the legs -- especially the right leg -- is really painful all the time; especially walking.

I'm on Tramacet (Tramadol in the US I believe) 3 times per day and the Neurosurgeon tells me this pain is perfectly normal. I've had major abdominal and spinal surgery before so I'm no stranger to pain but this is so hard.

I'm also diabetic. Was on insulin prior to the op but changed diet big time and mange OK now on tablets. Sugar is pretty well managed except for hypoglycemia in the mornings.

Is it supposed to be this painful post op? And for how long?


  • Just reading through other posts and being 1 day shy of 2 weeks post op almost the same identical surgery you had - and feeling 'fair' at the moment - I'm just wondering - did your pain get worse when you started PT? I've read an awful lot of posts where people seem to have felt better, then went to PT and it was all over. My doc already told me this one surgery may not be enough, but then again I don't know everything that he did - the hubs tells me they called him in the middle of my surgery and said not to worry that it was taking so much longer than expected - 'that he found more once he got in there'. I just know I was not expecting this 7-8" long incision. The same as you, I've had major surgery before, but that first week especially was the absolute worst post-surgical pain I've ever experienced. I've given birth without any drugs before, so I think I'm able to take a lot of pain and I think I know pain. I too, get muscular like pain in my left leg once in a while. My back pain feels like incision pain, but now and then I get those old familiar twinges of pain. My doctor told me this surgery would not help the back pain - only the leg pain, but since he did more than he planned, I don't know. Most people that I've gotten to know really well that have had this surgery either went on to have more surgery or had relief of both back and leg pain. I just don't think they can promise relief of back pain. My husband has had two neck surgeries also. First was a fusion using cadaver bone. Second time they replaced a few discs, removed spurs and put in hardware. He didn't have much strength in his arm at all before the 1st surgery and it really helped that, but his doctor said she'd rather have the artifical discs and at that time they were just about to be approved, so she left the others alone - thus the second surgery. He has some neck pain, but not too often. So I'm expecting the same for my back. The hubs also has back problems and we have the same surgeon. He says there has to be at least 6-8 weeks between our surgeries. Since he has no bedside manner and we now realize everybody gets the same medications no matter what, he's waiting to see how much this surgery helps me - another words - is it going to be worth the pain. If I still need pain meds months from now, I'm really going to be angry. I don't understand why in 2012, most people don't get excellent results!

    I'm wondering this though - how long was it before you could lay on your back?
    I am who I am!
  • I was in ICU for about a week - flat on my back the whole time - and thereafter moved to a regular ward. Almost immediately, the Physiotherapist had me on my feet. Lying on the back was still painful because of the staples and drain but not too bad. Initial post-op pain was actually not that bad.

    What did mess me up was the hospital t-o-t-a-l-l-y messing up my chronic medication - some things I got 4X dose and other 1/2 or less. For example, I was spaced out on 4mg-6mg of Rivotril (I take 1mg).

    PT actually made it better... for a while only though. Then after about 10-12 weeks, things started going South.

    I try to walk as much as I can manage - maybe a total of 1km / day everything considered. Pain is worst in the morning as well as the weakness/pain in the legs.
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