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L5-S1 post op headaches

I underwent a L5-S1 micro discectomy four days ago after four years of leg left leg pain.
Post op, the surgeon told me they had accidentally punctured my duramater but had quickly patched it up. Nonetheless, the surgeon placed me on 24-hrs flat bed rest in case there was any CSF leaking. After getting up they released me home. No back pain no headaches.
After I got home I noticed increasingly painful headaches when sitting or standing. My surgeon told me to go immediately to the ER fearing a CSF leak. An MRI thankfully dispelled those fears and the doctors are stumped as to why I continue to have headaches.
I'm in day four now and have to eat, drink, and spend all day laying down. A trip to the toilet results in a pounding headache accompanied by dry heaving. I have been eating more now, but still down in spirits.
Anyone else experience something like this. I'm just taking extra strength Tylenol.


  • So sorry to hear about your problems. I have not read any posts like this so sadly I have nothing for ya. But if you doc does not have answers for you its def time to seek out more opinions!!

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Thanks for the response Ben. My doctor is stumped and says it'll take time.
    I think it's just a mixture or trauma, dehydration, and those strong meds that cause it.
    Other doctors told me something like this can take anywhere between 48hours to 2 months to get better.
    I'm hoping it won't be that long.
  • Daniel -
    I've had a very similar situation, minus the puncture of the dura mater and the blood patch. You aren't alone. I had an L5-S1 ALIF on 2/22/11. The night of the surgery I had such a severe headache that my nurses called my surgeon in the middle of the night to express their concern. He had no explanation for the cause, but he kept me in the hospital for another day.
    I do have to say that my recovery on that surgery has not gone well. My L4 vertebra has moved retrograde and fallen off the fused segment, which has resulted in facet damaged and spinal stenosis. I have sciatica and other nerve damage. It's a mess, but Workers Comp has been calling the shots. nothing has been happening in a timely fashion.
    But back to the subject at hand...
    Since the surgery any time I do anything to aggravate my spinal nerves, such as overdoing it (that doesn't take much!) or riding in a car too long, I develop a very severe one sided headache. The pain is on the same side as the aggravated nerve and just moving at all causes the pain to throb. I don't have nausea with it (I hate throwing up so it takes A LOT to induce nausea in me) but I am very sensitive to sound and light. My pain management doc has diagnosed them as migraines. I had never had that type of headache before. I'm on narcotic pain control plus Zanaflex and topomax, which is written for migraines as well as other types of pain. The only way I can eliminate the headaches is to lie down with my spine in a neutral position. My physical therapist has helped me find the right position to use for this. If I can relax, breathe deeply, and take the stress off the muscles and nerves that are aggravated the headache goes away. Sometimes though I can't resolve it myself. I have had to go for injections of Tordol or to see my PT.
    I posted about my problem with these headaches two years ago and didn't find anyone else who had experienced them. Apparently they don't happen often, but you and I both know they do happen. Hang in there. Let me know how you do.

    Pat Gibson
    L5S1 ALIF 2-22-11
    Now L4 Retrolisthisis
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