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6 weeks after discectomy lots of pain and very depressed.

I had a discectomy on April 15th. I am now 6 weeks out and in severe pain. Is this normal? I hate to admit it, but I am a 25 year old guy and I cried until I. Fell asleep last night. Not because the pain was that excrutiating, but the despair of still having constant pain. I haven't been able to do very much for months, I can hardly help out around the house, and usually the things I do tend to.cause flareups.. (I waited several months before surgery attempting conservative therapies).

My surgeon seems impossible to get ahold of. Other than my 2 week postop appointment that was grossly concise mixed with an hour or two of painful waiting and a totally unnecessary xray . I have spoken to several medical assistants who constantly tell me inflammation, normal, inflammation etc... They also want me to stop taking pain killers. (5-6 months of Norco 5-7.5, 3 weeks of 5mg Percocet and now gave me 60 10mg Norco to "wean off" two weeks ago.)

I need to call them today. My next appointment is not until June 17th. I feel like I am being not being taken seriously, I don't know how to just say I need a new MRI and actually SEE someone. I am out of pain killers later this week,, but I am afraid to even mention that to them! I don't know how to talk to these people anymore. It seems like everyone I talk to there is desensitized and just doesnt care.


  • So sorry to hear about your continued pain. There is no reason to be pained in the admittance of sadness and despair. I think I was right around the 8 week mark when I nearly completely broke down at PT. Things werent getting better, I was having continued pain, I was still some what in the mindset of a 6-8 week recovery and I was simply defeated. Thankfully I had a great PT who really helped put things in perspective and over the next few weeks really helped me over the mental slump i was in. It was the roughest time frame in my recovery.

    So that kind of leads to my questions for you.
    Are you in PT yet? I started at 2 weeks but some do not start until 8. I def believe that the PT takes over where the surgeon leaves off. Not only do they help you understand whats OK & whats not movement & activity-wise, but they also report your condition & progress to the surgeon.

    Also, when you call the surgeons office is there a specific person you are supposed to contact. I was never able to talk to the surgeon when I called the ofiice. But my surgeon had a "head nurse" who was my contact. I did not always get her right away, but she always called me back same day to answer any questions I had.

    As for your overall recovery, I am almost 9 months post-op. I consider myself about 90-95% "recovered" My biggest complaint with the entire process is the thought that recovery from micro-D is a 6-8 week deal. That may be so for the best of the best cases, but at 8 weeks I was absolutely nowhere near "recovered". My recovery has been very chunky. !st 2 weeks all good, meds controlled the pain. 2nd 2 weeks was ok, but there was increased pain with increased activity. I started PT & returned to work light duty at 2 weeks. 2nd month was pretty terrible. I was doing PT, getting nowhere. Had a setback in that 4th week that took me off track for the entire month. Then a week into my 3rd month I had another 2 week setback. UGH!Finally in the 4th month I felt large steps happening. I was finally getting some strength and mobility back, the pain becoming less & less. I had similar large steps in month 5. I did PT from week 2-16. Then in months 6 & 7 I kind of evened out. I started again having small sciatica issues that would come & go. Its hard to summarize all this, all along the way I had issues here & there. Eventually I did get a 2nd MRI after a 2week bout of burning sensations. Thankfully all was good. Between inflammation, swelling, and the nerve healing recovery can be very, very frustrating.

    I hope it is all part of the normal process for you. We def need the professionals to help us though. Call your surgeons office, tell them everything thats going on. Write down everything you want to say, dont let them cut you short. The same goes for when you see the surgeon also. I got to the point of carrying a binder to all of my appointments. I like my surgeon very much, but he could be very short and un-explanatory at times. You basically have to be like a hound dog with them at times to make sure you get the answers you need.

    And as crappy as it feels at times, if you are still in constant pain you should not be doing ant physical activites that are not controlled. Sweeping or vacuming or even washing dishes may not seem like physical activity but you could def be irritating the nerve. Yard work should not even be on your radar right now until you get things straight.

    That is best best advice for you right now. I hope you can get some better attention from your docs & nurses!

    Good Luck!!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Thank you for your response.

    Yes, I have started PT, surgeon prescribed at 2 weeks and I started at 4. I did about 8 weeks preop to see if I could help myself, so I returned to the same therapist. She instantly noticed an improvement in a few areas, but was rather concerned about the swelling around the incision area, as well as some significant muscle loss in my glutes and a few lbs of weight loss (I am a pretty skinny guy at 6'3 165-170, I have a weird metabolism and my weight seems to have always fluctuated about 5-7lbs since high school).

    She has me icing regularly at home and doing some light transverse abdominal exercises. When I'm there I get a thing sort of like a TENS unit and some ice, she evaluates my pain and I usually do a few minutes on the treadmill or the arm bike to get my legs moving, for a while this helped my pain at home, but lately it has been making it worse. A few light core exercises and some stretches and that's about it. I really tried my butt off to beat this without surgery, so I'm pretty familiar with all of the exercises, glides and stretches already.

    My surgeons office has about 17 different doctors there. When I call I can either talk to a receptionist or leave a message with the medical assistants. I have called them about 6-7 times so far and have spoken to mostly different people. One of them (I'm thinking my surgeons assistant is slightly more helpful). I called and left a message for them to return my call. Last time I called them it wad Monday at 9:00am and I recieved a call back Thursday at 2:00pm.

    I started a journal a little while ago to record my pain levels, when I take Norco, Ibuprofen or Aleve, how much and why. Hopefully I will be able to iterate my condition to them better this way. I am a pretty young guy, and I know this is a long road, but I really need my life back. I am so very tired of being in pain. It's changing the way I act around loved ones and putting stress on the relationships in my life.

    I also don't want to be dependant on pain killers and I feel like I already am. I have been taking short acting meds for months now, and usually take them right at the prescribed 4-6hrs (never more, but occasionally less, I also tried to just quit them before and after surgery but failed to. No severe withdrawals, but copious amounts of NSAIDs and persistent pain). This is one thing I am terrified to even bring up to doctors, and when I do I feel like some kind of drug seeker.

    Sorry for being so long winded. I am just a little distressed and trying to get my thoughts out.
  • It def sucks that you would have to wait 3-4 days for an answer. Some docs & nurses can be very dismissive and un-sympathetic, and that does not help us at all. Maybe you can specifivally ask for that "better" assisant? Or even ask "who is my contact?' that way if they do not call you back its not just " noboby called me back" Its " Janet never called me back" (just a random name btw)

    Having your journal def helps your cause in many ways. I do not think many drug seekers have the mindset of having a med journal and your docs should understand that as well.

    I fully understand you distress. I also tried for 2 years to beat it conservatively. When battling it for so long it is even easier to get tired of it after surgery. Stress on relationships, depression. I can def relate. Its really hard to just live life when in pain.

    Have you had any nerve meds. I took neurontin from week 5-8 and it did help. It was a really crazy drug though & is def not for everyone. But I did feel like the anti-anxiety aspect of it helped me as well.

    It is a really hard road, esp when we want our lives back so bad! For me the realization of a much longer recovery and accepting that was a HUGE mental step. After what I dealt with for 2 years pre-op I had to accept that it was gonna take some time. I try to tell people on these forums to allow at least 4-6 months before thinking they are near recovery. Of course everyone is different though.

    I also lost weight after surgery, but I also quit smoking. It took about 4 months but I gained it back plus like 5-10 lbs, doh!

    It is scary to think about being dependant on the pain killers, but it is also part of the process to have to take them. It is a fine line, but as long as you are concious of it and continuallly working with the docs you will be OK.

    Your PT also sound alot like mine. I did have to back off quite a bit in those hard weeks, even sometimes when the PT wanted me to do more I said no, lets back off a bit this week. No matter how good they all are only you understand exactly how you are feeling. Maybe even take a week off PT and just walk like in the early stages. Another thing thats easy to say but hard to fully learn is Listen to your body! When you can get your body & mind on the same page that def helps too!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • SonialSSonial Posts: 6
    edited 05/28/2013 - 6:08 AM
    Thank you very much. It is very easing to talk to someone who actually knows what it's like! I really appreciate your advice ans will continue to exert all of my energy towards patience and dilligence! It's just tough, man. I never knew I had so much reserve emotion in my tank, if you know what I mean!

    EDIT: No nerve meds yet. I did a Medrol pack about 6 weeks before surgery as my regular "pre-spring asthma surpressor" that helps my allergies and reduces my need for albuterol etc... and it was of course an additional bonus to fight inflammation for a while.
    Also sorry for the minor typos, I have a wicked crack in my phone screen and the computer chair is way to brutal. (Spent a lot of my youth in a hard metal scene, probably a part what led to the bad back and referring to everything as "brutal")
  • ben_indianabben_indiana Posts: 288
    edited 05/28/2013 - 7:52 AM
    All good dude, DM anytime
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • sandiegostevessandiegosteve Posts: 47
    edited 05/29/2013 - 1:01 PM
    I'm at week 4 today post lamiectomy on my L5-S1. Did you have a lot of pain leading up to week 6, or is it starting now?

    I had a lot for the first 10 days and it declined steadily. Now I feel very good in the pain department, but the numbness and muscles challenges are slower to recovery.
    L5-S1 herniation (10mm), April 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy May 1st 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy April 18th 2016

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