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20 hr. Post Op. l5/s1, laminectomy, foraminotomy, micro dicectomy

Hi, I'm Sean. I am a 36 yearold Male in need of support, I have had 7-8 years of chronic but liveable back pain. Over the last 3 I have suffered with numbness, shooting pain, burning, etc....below the waist. My wife and I have 4 children between the years of 14-6. For this reason I can't afford to take any narcotic pain relievers. I was prescribed Neurontin 600/3x and Indomethacin 3x for the last 2 years, to minimal relief.
I have Degenerative disc disease, Osteoarthritis, and a few other things going on, The pain had become unliveable, So after years of trying to bury the pain I chose surgery. I'm trying to find the hope that I will be better.
Please if you have any experience, strength, and hope to offer I would be grately appreciative.

Status now.... surviving

thank you, Sean



  • Welcome to the forums! Hopefully I can give you a little bit of support. First, you are posting within a day of op, so thats good! I am 32 and like youself I lived with chronic pain for a long time. But really in the 2 years before my surgery is when it went from bad to worse. Standing became my worst enemy. Waiting in a line anywhere or just having a standing conversation triggered bad sciatic pain down my left leg. Over a 2 year period it just got worse & worse. For a long time sitting or laying down relieved my pain. Through this time and before I use chiro to manage my pain. In the year before surgery it continued to get worse. I finally had a CT scan that showed a large herniation at L5S1. I then moved on to pain mngmt & had 3 ESIs over an 8 month period all providing minimal relief. The last one I had right before a 2 week vacation thinking if I have this one then do not work for 2 weeks its my best chance to avoid surgery. The first monday back at work the pain was as bad as ever, and had increased so much that sitting & laying provided no relief and sleeping was spotty at best.

    After some frustration finding the right doc I had an MRI and was recommended for L5S1 microD. Had my surgery sept 6th hoping for a 2-6 week recovery. Found out the surgery was more complicated than expected due to severity of herniation & conjoint nerve root. Woke up in pretty severe pain but was still able to go home that night. Other than surgical pain I felt pretty good. Was able to take short walks right away. 1st 2 weeks with meds & minimal movement although boring was ok.

    Week 2-4. Started PT & returned to work, easing in. This was one of the toughest stretches. Between weaning off pain meds and returning to activity I was in alot of pain, wondering if the disc was gonna heal, battling anxiety & depression combined for some pretty crappy days. Its hard to explain it all in one post, if you search for my previous posts you can look at all the details. And that pretty much goes for the rest of this too cuz Im gonna summarize quite a bit.

    Weeks 4-10. Continuing PT, working full time still light duty. Nerve pain returning, freking out, depressed. PT giving alot of support & advice. Not feeling like I am getting better or stronger. Surgeon prescribes Neurontin. Take for total of 3 weeks. Helps with nerve pain & anxiety. Try so do light swimming week 5, causes 2 week setback. Then roll right into another 2 week setback week 8 trying to do too much at work.

    In the 3rd month post-op I am finally starting to learn to listen to by body. Im not gonna be able to force myself to get better or make it happen any faster. I also learn that evry pain that I have does not mean rehrniation. These are huge steps for me. I finally start to feel improvements overall.

    4th month till now. Finally finish up PT, most people dont go nearly that long but I def needed it. I can go to gym and do light swimming, light lifting, and play bball (lightly also). I can do pretty much anything at work except lifting of course. Still being very cautios with any general lifting & bending motions. But understanding is key. After every gym session I swell up & feel tingling down leg. I have to ice up and take aleve and rest every time. Pretty much every week from 16 till now which is like 22 weeks I can do a little more at the gym. I can jog on the court and even jump for a layup or jump shot. I add a new exercise in the weight room every week. I feel almost normal about 60% of the time. I think I am about 70% overall and hope to be 100% by summer. I never lifted before surgery so I may even be better than 100%. I quit smoking right after op. i am def alot healthier. And most importantly a whole lot happier. Every time I do something I couldnt do before surgery it feels great and gives me the motivation to keep getting better.

    Overall I describe the recovery as a roller coaster with lots of ups & downs. Its not easy and it is most def not fast. 2-6 weeks? maybe for some but def not for me. Accepting that is huge.

    The longer the nerve is compressed the longer it takes to heal. that combined with arthritis may make for a lenghty recovery. But it is soo worth it. When things are bad always remember what it was like pre-op. If you were in pain all day every day, and in week 4 or so you are feeling down or hurting but for 10% of the day you are pain free that is still a step in the right direction. And thats what it is, 1 step at a time. Listen to your docs, find a great PT. And buckle in for a long ride, the destination is worth it!

    feel free to DM or post here anytime. I check in often and am happy to help. I understand as do many, many others on this site.

    Good Luck & keep us updated!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • NHbackNNHback Posts: 35
    edited 02/23/2013 - 1:48 PM

    my experience has been VERY similar to Ben's. Recovery was not the "3 weeks" you'll see stated in some places for a microdiscectomy... it was 6 weeks to really be able to function, and now at 20weeks post-op there are still days of doubt and issues... I think the biggest thing is the doubt and the worry and the lack of trust in our back when any little symmtom pops up. Give yourself TIME, and dont beat yourself up if and when you feel helpless, overwhelmed, worried, etc Many of us have been through the exact same thing...
  • Sounds like a full complement of procedures. Roto-rooter'd the foramins too!

    Well, my procedures were less involved and even so, it took me a good 6 months to regain most of my stamina. Give yourself permission to take it slow and easy for at least a year. I understand walking and aquatic therapy in the pool help to reduce potential of adhesions (scar tissue).

    The first 3 or 4 weeks are critical for healing the disc. Try as best you can to not lift stuff, sneeze, cough, retch (gag) / throw up, drag stuff, nudge stuff, twist, running, jumping, etc etc. Try not to transfer weight from your arms thru your lumbar spine to your lower body.

    The incision made on the disc (the annulus) needs a few weeks to seal closed with scar tissue. The scar tissue is not as strong as the annulus collagen material so try your best to protect it and not load it too much.

    Let us know how it goes if you feel up to it.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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