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Increased and uncontrolled pain after discectomy/laminotomy/foramenotomy

Hi. I am new to chat rooms so please be patient with my technological clumsiness. I had an extruded (herniated) disc at L5/S1 since May. I moved heavy furniture without help, and then went on a trip where I carried heavy luggage around. I also thought I could deny my pain and "walk it out". My GP sent me to PT without getting an MRI first, and the PT's wrong exercises further herniated my disc so that I was in excruciating pain down my sciatic nerve and I couldn't sit. By the end of June I couldn't stand it any more and got an MRI that revealed a large extrusion (2 cm, 1.5cm, etc--NOT in mm) at L5/S1. I had 3 epidural steroid shots that didn't help much AND I had reactions to the injections. I tried appropriate PT and Hydrotherapy at this point to no avail. I went back to work and my 47 minute commute at the end of August, sitting on ice all the way and breaking up my commute to get out of the car while weeping with pain. I did as much conservative treatment as I could because I fear surgery. I gave up and saw a neurosurgeon and scheduled a discectomy/limited laminectomy for Oct. 3rd. I was told that the surgery would relieve my nerve pain down my leg and eventually help with the numbness and stop the spreading to my other leg. He advised me to take 3-4 weeks off from work and said this was outpatient-- I would be out of hospital within 24 hours.

I had the surgery and he said it was a success, but that my nerve had been completely strangled with extruded disc material, normal arthritis, etc. and he freed the nerve. I was admitted overnight and the next morning I walked around the floor several times with a OT and felt alright, though in pain. However, after I signed my discharge papers and they removed my IV, my pain began to escalate. I had to urinate (my bladder was still not right) on the very low toilet in my room. I had to call the nurse because my pain got very bad. It is now a different pain-PAIN in my pelvis, hip bones, thigh bones, and different soft tissue areas--plus the incision site. The new bone pain is like being skewered with metal skewers from many different angles. The nurse did nothing to help the pain (I had taken a Roxicodone before this happened that didn't work) and the pain continued to escalate, I had trouble breathing, my blood pressure went up, and then I started having the worst chest pain (elephant on my center sternum bone) I have ever had in my life. A"Rapid response" team was called in and they took nearly 3 hours to get a new IV line in after blowing out all my veins because no one had a small (like a 22) needle. I ended up getting a chest Xray and EKG which showed some slight abnormalities. Noone has explained exactly what type of pain attack I had. They finally got some morphine into me and since then, I have had horrible new bone pain.

I was discharged in absolute agony, but I knew I would be safer at home as the nurses did not want to give me any pain medicine (including Advil!) and their computers kept crashing on the floor. I had to beg to get an OT to come visit me at home and have not slept more than 5 1/2 hours a night since surgery. I called my surgeon's nurses to ask for help treating the pain. I have a lot of drug allergies/adverse reactions. Nothing helped. I also called the on-call neuro. at the hospital during intense pain episodes at night. I gave up and went to my GP Friday and started new treatments--increasing the Vicodin (with a lower Tylenol load), and adding Celebrex for bone pain and Valium at night to get me to stay asleep and not wake crying in pain. The past 2 nights I have slept better than I have since surgery so I hope this lasts.

Has anyone else ever 1) Had a bad reaction to lumbar surgery 2) Suffered uncontrollable new bone pain following this type of surgery? 3) Have an educated guess about WHEN I might be able to go back to work?

I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. I do ice down and walk on the 1st floor of my house a lot.


  • Sorry to hear about your continued pain. This is just MY experience as I had the same surgery twice.

    The first time around I had a bilateral discetomy/laminotomy and felt pretty good after surgery as far as sciatica was concerned. I did however have a TON of lower back pain. In recovery they asked on a scale of 1-10 how much pain I was in. If I remember right I either told them a 9 or a 10 so they gave me a shot of morphine. 15 min later they came back and asked the same question and I again told them 9-10 so they gave me another shot of morpine. This happened one more time and not once did I feel less pain until they hooked me upto a pain pump. I was however in so much pain that it took all my strength to get out of bed to walk and use the restroom. The next day I had my PT in the morning and again I had a ton of low back pain but my legs and feet felt great!. The PT came in that afternoon for my second session and I got half way around the nurses station when I almost collapsed in pain. I had pain that shot down my leg and instantly turned my foot numb. They checked me for a blood clot which came back negative. They thought it was just swelling and after the 4th day of being in the hospital with the pain not improving much they sent me home. I was taking oxycontin 20, 2 percocets every 4 hours, muscle relaxors and gabapentin for nerve pain. Even with all of that it barely phased my low back and now leg pain.

    I went back in for my 1 week checkup and told them I was still in a ton of pain and my foot was still numb. They sent me to get another MRI right away which came back somewhat inconclusive because of all my swelling. To make a long story short I went back in for my month checkup and told them I was still experiencing pain and after two Dr's looked at my second MRI again they concluded that they needed to go back in and take a look at things. So 2 days later I was in the OR again. It turns out that my disc reherniated the day after surgery while I was doing PT. My feelings are that because I was so sore and had so much trouble getting out of bed that it led to it reherniating again.

    My second surgery went much better. Hardly any pain and I was able to get out of bed fairly easily. It only lasted a couple months though as now I'm dealing with pain once again.

    Have you had a second MRI since surgery? If not I would request one and see if they can find out whats going on. It could be that you let it go so long that nerves were damaged.

    Good luck!
  • Thank you sharing your history. I have my 4 week follow-up on the 31st so I will bring up a new MRI. What was ludicrous in the hospital was that they kept asking me what my pain level was on their scale of 1-10 (I am NOT a quantitative person) and I would say 8-9, and then they wouldn't give me anything. They only had me on Roxicodone every 6 hours. and very reluctantly would give morphine through the IV when I begged for relief.They lost my records on the computer and then the hospital pharmacy didn't have me in their records so a farce ensued. I wish I had asked for a PCA pump. They were all very surprised that I was experiencing so much pain. Had I been more intelligent, I would have hired a private duty nurse to be with me at all times, especially the 2nd night, in which I was in incredible pain and I kept dropping my darn call button. I called for a nurse for hours and was finally given 10 mg Vicodin (which I am used to) but the pain was so bad that I had to call again and they finally gave me some morphine. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be given Ativan and other drugs due to adverse reactions so I was very awake and able to remember too much. I will ask about the MRI. It is reassuring to know someone else also had difficulties.
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