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Still experiencing nerve pain 15 weeks after surgery

I am incredibly frustrated with continuing nerve pain, hip pain after surgery and 2 months of PT. I just started back to work and my commute hurts, even when I get out of the car and walk halfway to work. I began forward bending stretches with
PT today and have been in pain the last 10 hours. Had an EMG/NCS last week that showed abnormal response at L5 S1 nerve root with radiculopathy. The pain is better than a month ago, but my healing is slow. My PT thinks I have scarring--I really hope it isn't permanent--I have been walking as much as I could since surgery to prevent that. I suppose I should call my GP or the neurosurgeon tomorrow but I don't believe there is anything they can do to help with the pain. I can't take Neurontin and many other drugs. I still do Lidoderm patches, Tylenol, Celebrex, and hydrocodone but it doesn't help much. I'd really like to ditch the hydrocodone but it usually does help a bit. However, the pain hasn't been good the last few nights and I'm having trouble sleeping again. I realize nerves take a long while to heal, but I am getting increasingly irritated with this darn situation. How in blazes am I going to make it to work and back tomorrow? The driving is horrible. Is this ever going to get significantly better? I thought surgery was supposed to help this!

2cm disc extrusion and fragments at L5 S1 pressing into nerve. Laminoforaminotomy and discectomy October 2012.


  • Humanshishkabob

    Sorry to hear that things havent much improved for you yet.

    It may be time now for another MRI and second opinions.

    Also, the EMG / NCS should state whether the nerve damage is "progressive" (ie ongoing, active) or not.

    These links provide more detail.

    If its active or progressive, then the surgery may not have fully addressed the root cause or reherniation may have occurred.

    My microD did not address my root cause.

    Note: swimming is often recommended to try to soften up the scar tissue be stretching it in a non weight bearing environment.
    also http://www.spine-health.com/ask-a-doctor/herniated-disc/leg-pain-and-scar-tissue-after-herniated-disk-surgery

    Good luck.
  • I'm about 5 months post op and from what my surgeon told me, it's possible you have nerve damage. He told me that the longer I was in pain prior to surgery the longer it's going to take for any nerve pain to come back. That being said I was in a lot of pain prior to surgery and has been dealing with back problems since I was a kid. The nerve pain that I have is in my left foot and has been going on since surgery. My surgeon thinks it might be permanent at this point.

    I also found that the more stressed out I am with normal things (work, etc.) that's when I tend to have the pain.

    I had distecomy/laminectomy Aug 6th on L4, L5, S1
  • odile53oodile53 Posts: 65
    edited 01/23/2013 - 3:17 PM
    Nerves regenerate at the rate of 1 mm per day. To amuse myself postoperatively, 5 weeks ago, I traced the area of pain on the skin where it hurt (psoas pain) using a marker. I do this twice a week. I can definitely see visually that it is slowly but surely improving. I had a L 4-5 XLIF (microdiscectomy and subtotal laminectomy with fusion and clamp,) and the surgeon warned me about "charlie horses" along the psoas muscle of the approach side. I'm still on hydrocodone but only take it three times a day, valium, which I also take three times a day since it seems to be more muscle spasm at this point, and use the TENS unit a couple times a day, which really seems to help the most. I plan to ask him about getting a milder antispasmodic when I go for my first xrays next month, as I really don't like this dopey feeling: Anyone who can amuse herself by drawing pain outlines on her leg is really getting a little whacky, in my opinion--LOL! However, it is providing me with visual confirmation of improvement.
    I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.
  • humanshishkabobhhumanshishkabob Posts: 65
    edited 01/23/2013 - 5:59 PM
    Thanks, everyone. I am just really frustrated about not being better and feeling better. My nerve was compressed for a long time before I finally had surgery. I started different PT over the weekend and forward stretches Monday which sent me into some sort of inflammation response of my already angry nerve. I am stopping PT for a while and definitely the new stretches that triggered this response. My PT said it may take a week or so for it to subside. I also called my GP (who suggested 2 drugs that don't work and I have adverse reactions to) and my neurosurgeon's office. The GP just said that it is going to take time for the nerve to settle down--that's what I've been hearing for months now. The neuro's PA said they still haven't received my EMG/NCS and couldn't suggest anything else to try for the pain. You'd think that medical research would have more viable and efficacious options for nerve pain in the 21st century. I am really discouraged. Maybe I'll take a bath tomorrow when I come home from work to see if that helps after my hellish commute. Water is a good idea.
    Perhaps I should draw on my leg too, although I draw terribly. Does that mean I'd have to shave my legs? Or leg? I seem to have lost my sense of humor in the last couple days. Nerve pain stinks. Trying to go back to work with it is very difficult. I know I should be grateful that I have less pain than I had in October, but this week I just don't seem to be able to have a positive attitude. Am I ever going to be able to drive again without hurting? If I have to endure this level of pain and numbness for months or years, I don't know how I'm going to cope with it. I want my life back. Whine, whine.
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