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Can back surgery lend itself to depression?

Lil421LLil421 Posts: 2
edited 04/04/2013 - 4:25 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, I am new on forums - I messed this up before and then realized you can't delete them! I'll try again.
I had a multi level fusion 6 weeks ago, T11 to sacrum. I have made progress, oxy meds reduced. Walking 10 min. at a time.This surgery seems better & worse. from previous 3 fusions. A little history: had 5 back surgeries &1 neck fusion. I had bad back pain for years, soI am somewhat frail. I tried just about everything - pt. meds, accupuncture, so on… that fit in with my demanding job (oncall 24/7). I have other chronic health problems: dystonia and rheumatoid arthristis. Been a big struggle to work FT. Right before my surgery I decided to resign my fulltime job as I felt it was so unhealthly physically and emotionally. I had no other life, I've lost my support system and social life. My current problem I need advice with this current depression. I know my focus should be to recover, but I feel lost and so isolated (Dr said I can't drive for at least another 3 weeks or more). I don't remember feeling depressed with the other ones. Anyone had problems like this? Unfortunately I can't drive, so can't get to a therapist. I also can't seem to get a thing none around the house. any insights or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Diane Larson


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • hi there we need a little more information in order to answer your question ??
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Lil421LLil421 Posts: 2
    edited 04/04/2013 - 5:01 PM
    This time I have much less stabbing severe pain & stiffness, infact I can move around TOO good, my clam brace reminds me if I bend or twist but not before I"ve done some, gained 2 inches in height. I feel more alert and like I have healed quicker. On the other hand I have severe thigh nerve pain, feel like my legs aren't the same length or something when I walk, tired, anxious and can't sit for more than 20 minutes before my back aches.
    Diane Larson
  • I have lower back pain,numbness in right foot,three toes,side of lower fight leg and now my legs are throbbing along with burning like there on fire so yes it goes along with depression any anxiety..
  • I'm at 11.5 weeks and depression has been an issue for the past several weeks. This was my first surgery, so I don't have anything to compare it to. For me, I think a lot of it is just the wondering if it will help, how much it will help, how long will it take....all those uncertainties.

    ((hugs if wanted))
    1/16/2013 Minimally invasive TLIF with rods, screws, and cage on L5/S1 joint to treat grade 2 spondylolysthesis, pars defect, degenerative disc disease. Dealt with chronic pain & nerve issues since at least 2007.
  • I think depression rears it's ugly head in situations like ours pretty much alot.
    Most of the time it's short term so try and look at it that way maybe.
    You can also call a friend or family member to visit or on the phone, write down how you're feeling daily.
    I'm hearing so many worries in your post and so sorry for that. I can tell u the stuff around the house will still be there although I get how it drives us nuts. Do you have things at waist level or a little higher? that will help and otherwise I don't know that it's a good idea to push too hard as you need time and don't want to hurt yourself...
    I had some depression after my double fusion because it seemed to take forever post-op but as it failed I became major depressed and isolated myself, even from the 3 people I live with! My point is you are not alone. I too had to resign my job and cannot work it's a piece of me still but that is not my new normal.
    The depression and coping section here is fantastic. I find it helpful when I am having a crummy day. I go to a shrink take a little cocktail of depression meds and go to therapy. I've gotten much better. You will too
    Remember you had MAJOR surgery, mine is nothing compared to that. On top of the other diagnosis you have it's ok to feel a little down nobody asks for this.
    Ask your doc for activity instructions as you move along and maybe PT as soon as possible. They may be able to get you in the pool for some walking etc. its a start so you might inquire about that. I started in the water and graduated to land after about 6 wks. I also think I should have been doing that much sooner, that's neither here nor there now.
    Sorry about the carrying on I just feel for you and can relate.

    take care
  • Hi there, Lil:

    I don't see where you mentioned if you are on pain meds or not. Sometimes, those can cause depression. If you are, you may want to check it out - or check out the dose to see if that could be the culprit.

    Also - you said you cannot drive for another three weeks and therefore cannot get to a therapist. Can you take a cab? I couldn't drive for 6 weeks after surgery and if I had to get someplace and a friend was not available, I took a cab. I don't know where you live, cost, etc - but you don't have to be stuck. Many don't think about a cab as an option when they have a car sitting in their garage, but it might help knowing it is there. Heck, I even took a cab to get my hair done! That TRULY lifted my spirits - 1) I didn't feel trapped and 2) my hair stylist was so willing to work with me as I needed to have my hair washed. I have a neck fusion, so she let me bend over the sink when it was time to wash my hair. She was great!

    In other words, there are options so you don't feel so trapped.

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • Any long-term physical problem can lend itself to depression. I see many people in my practice every day that are struggling with chronic pain issues. As for myself, I also suffer from mild depression and anxiety. The idea, I think, is to recognize that your mind, body and spirit are all one. You have a lot going on, and since you can't control your body, it is best to try to work on changing negative thought patterns as well as any judgments that you might hold about yourself and others. In addition, look at your expectations of healing? Do you have some beliefs about yourself and what you "should" be doing that you just are not able to do right now? We all go through changes in life, and you need time to heal. You can't "fake" being better and pretending that nothing is wrong. You might end up bitter, disillusioned, and probably ashamed. I could go on and on...but, the idea is to be nice to yourself. Keep doing your best...every day is different, so todays best will be tomorrows half-ass.

    "My Blood Type is Be Positive"


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