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Pain from overdoing it 10 weeks post-op

I decided to drive home from appointment with my surgeon (hour drive). Although I stopped halfway home for dinner and stretching, my pain level has increased. That's the longest I've driven since laminoforaminotomy/discectomy for agonizing extruded disc (greater than 1.5 CM-not mm) at popular L5-S1 pressing into nerve. When I saw my PT the next day, she said I overdid it and needed to listen to my body. I just started PT but was walking almost 1.5 miles a day. Not today.
My right buttock and thigh pain never disappeared after surgery, but has grown slightly less and changed position. I have a lot of new bone pain since surgery in the hip/iliac/sacral region. The surgeon says that I am improving but it will take time. First, of course he said I was doing great and had no restrictions, but then he said that I need to build myself up again slowly and not to twist or sit too long. If I haven't improved significantly 6 months post-op, then he wants another MRI. I still have numbness in toes, slight foot drop, weakness in leg strength, buttock/thigh/knee pain. I am not in the constant pain I was before surgery, but I still have hours of it on and off every day. The pain has come down a couple levels, but I am afraid of re-herniating or afraid of permanent nerve damage. I know I should expect occasional setbacks from reading other posts, but I don't even know if my surgery was successful.

I am praying that I can return to work mid-January even though I have a 45 minute drive. Does anyone else have experience with a large herniated disc and this type of surgery? I was told that most people (85%+) get real relief from thigh/leg pain after surgery but that hasn't been my experience. Would appreciate anyone else's experience with same problem.


  • Did you have this before surgery? If I read your history correctly, you had this foot drop before the microdiscectomy.

    Has this improved yet? Are you doing specific exercises to strengthen those muscles? Have the muscles started to work again? Are you going to a spinal rehab PT or physiatrist that is experienced and successful in foot drop rehab?

    Why hasn't an EMG been done to establish whether there is ongoing nerve damage? Why hasn't another MRI been done?

    I feel for you and understand your your pain and the frustration with the actual health issue and the pressure you feel and the work front. However, I am troubled by your situation, your foot drop may not have I proved, you may have ongoing nerve damage.

    We have had a few posts recently, where members have had raised the pain they are experiencing with their surgeons and had MRI's and found reherniation. 25% of md's with large herniated fragments have reherniation at an average timeframe of 3 mths.

    At few mths post my md, I began to realise I needed a second opinion. I got 3 others. All agreed (after and due to MRI, EMG, ongoing pain and ongoing nerve damage) that the 'wait and see' approach of the original surgeon was not in my best interests.

    I would suggest a talk to your surgeon about what could be the cause of this pain. It has been nearly 3 mths and you indicate that you are not satisfied with the improvement. Some of the recent posts have discussed how to have an effective dialogue with the surgeon that prompts the surgeon to suggest reasonable diagnostic action. So I won't try to duplicate it, as other members have done it better than I can here. I recommend using the search function to do this research. A couple of links below may provide incentive for you to do this research.

    I am not a doctor and maybe over reacting, however, i wonder whether "the she'll be right" approach is a bit too blasé for your circumstances. Better safe than sorry. If all's fine after doing diagnostic testing, great. The downside consequences of permanent nerve damage is not bright.

    Wish you luck.
  • Dear Dave,
    Thanks for writing back. I'll check out the links-thanks. My foot drop is much better since the surgery but my right leg is still slightly longer. When I walk, my stride isn't back to normal--almost, but not quite. When I tried to do the PT at the barre on Friday, I couldn't do it so I has to go over to the small step. I'll find out if my PT is specifically a spine PT--she's the best one I've tried since my herniation. I have been contemplating getting another MRI or nerve study-EMG and I might call my surgeon today. If I get no response from him, I'll contact my GP and see if I can get another opinion from another NS that was recommended. I'll be at 11 weeks post-op this week and from what I was told to expect before surgery, I feel my progress has been unusually slow. I just get really discouraged about losing almost all of 2012 to this. Thanks.
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