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Laminectony/Discectomy post-op pain

I had outpatient laminectomy/discectomy ten days ago. Although I've had improvement as far as pain is concerned, I'd hoped to be much better than I am now. I had my first post-op follow up two days ago and my steri-strips were removed. The doc says everything "looks good" and I should continue to take it easy and start taking short walks, but nothing more. My issue is that my live-in girlfriend can't understand why I have so much pain still and thinks I need to get "more active". It's starting to create some tension between us. She is a very active person and thinks the answer to everything is activity. She gets frustrated when I spend significant periods of time on the sofa or recliner and/or napping (am still taking oxycodone 5mg) and thinks my pain is mostly from inactivity. I try to explain to her that it's going to take time to recover. My question is, how long can I expect to have this much pain (usually in the "5-6" range) and how can I help her understand? She makes me feel like a lazy slob sometimes....


  • 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
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey Doug,
    Are you kidding me, only ten days out. You do indeed to take it easy and follow Dr's orders. Take GF to your next appt. also to help her understand what is going on. I am an overachiever and remembered back in 2006 after my laminectomy how I decided to walk a little further than I was instructed to. I almost had to crawl the rest of the distance home, felt sick the rest of the day, and set me back a few days in my recovery. You may think you are being too conservative with your activities but if in doubt I'm sure your Dr and staff would be happy to answer any questions you have. You don't want to ruin their repair work and have to go back in to have it fixed because of ignorance. I learned the hard way, patience is a virtue.
  • anjsmilesaanjsmiles Posts: 52
    edited 04/14/2013 - 8:59 AM
    I found out the hard way this healing process is very slow. 10 days post op I got out and walked a mile and then awoke the next morning in dire pain. I ended up having to call my doctor and they put me on a steroid dose pack to get the swelling down. I did too much too fast. Mind you before my hernia I walked a mile most every day. It wasn't my lack of ability to walk the mile, it was my body's lack of healing to be able to tolerate it. I am 3 weeks out now and doing better. I have ups and downs. Rain always is preceded by an achy day of nerve pain. Some days I need a 200mg Ibuprofen in the mornings and/or night. Some nights I still need a muscle relaxant. I am considering going back to my PT job after this week if this week goes well. I see my Dr. tomorrow so we will see what he says.
    Angie 46 yo
    Post Discectomy for L5/S1 herniation on 3/22/13. Also have bulge at L4/L5 and minor facet syndrome in one joint.
  • BpainFree39BBpainFree39 Posts: 127
    edited 04/14/2013 - 11:49 AM

    I agree with whats been said. REST REST REST. People who get on us about inactivity clearly have never had back surgery, or real back pain.

    I am day 4 from my second fusion, and I am listening to my body, and not doing any more than I think I can. When I had my first surgery the PT specialist came in a 6:00 AM the day after my surgery, got me up, and tried to get me to walk up and down the halls, and the hospital discharged me the same day. This was a big mistake, and I refuse to allow people to dictate my activity now.

    The PT folks are correct in wanting to get us going and a lot of recovery stems from getting up and going, however they have no clue what kind of pain we are feeling and need to be told how we fell and what we will do and not do.

    The day after my second surgery, again at around 6 or 7 AM here came the PT folks, trying to get me up. My answer to them this time was. "Not today" I will work with you tomorrow. Sorry, but I was just operated on and I'm not getting up.

    I don't want to tell you how to respond in your personal relationships, but if my wife got on me about how much I'm doing, and I'm lazy, I'd tell her to #$^%$^%$^ off.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents, and get well soon Eric-
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • Thank you all for your comments. This has been a long, frustrating six month experience, as I'm sure it has been with each of us. I intitially injured my back in a slip and fall at work last october. If anyone else has dealt with workers comp, you know what I've been going through. The length of this situation adds to the frustration my girl and I are both experiencing and I think we both had hoped to see quick results from the surgery. Which was a bit unrealistic when we look at it logically. After my original post and reading over these comments, she and I had a nice discussion. It's hard for someone who has never endured this kind of thing to relate and a lot of her demeanor stems from genuine concern. I'd hoped to be able to discontinue the pain meds by now, but it looks like I may have to have them refilled. It's reassuring to have the ability to discuss these issues with others who have and are going through the same ordeal.
    Which leads me to another question. Before my surgery I had a lot of painful tingling in my feet and legs, especially my left side. Since my surgery, it has been replaced with a less painful feeling that feels like I'm wearing a shoe two sizes too small. Has anyone else experienced this and does it ease or go away?
    Thanks again!
  • Doug,

    It sounds like nerve pressure / incision related. Have you tried to ice the incision site a lot? I found this to be helpful. The swelling on the inside can really play tricks on the nerves and sensations we get after surgery.

    I had sciatica and tingling in my left leg after surgery, and never had issues with either on my left leg at all. I was worried the surgery damaged something else, when actually what happened was the swelling was pushing on the nerve root, causing both issues. This went away after a few months,

    I hop that helped. Eric-
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
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