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Pain and Depression

I had a MicroD last Nov for L5 S1. Dealt with sciatica for 3 years before that. The surgery did wonders as the pain is not near where it was. Now I'm 7 months post op and every ache and pain sends me into a tail spin. It's like it intensifies everything I feel. My wife tells me I'm fine but the anxiety of thinking the pain will come back breaks my heart. I'm only 30 and a war vet and popular belief says that I should be tougher than this. My back hurts more now than before but the leg pain is slight. I do feel better when my mood is good but when I'm alone and not supported by my wife my pain breaks my world. Is this normal to feel like this after spinal surgery. I start back pt today in the hopes of exploiting any weakness I might have left. I want my life back.


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    Yes, it is very common to worry and be a little depressed after having back surgery. It is mostly due to a combination of fear of the pain recurring, doing something that could set off the whole issue all over again, and of course, the recovery period after having back surgery is tough, no matter what.
    Have you discussed your concerns with your surgeon? What has he said about the chances of reinjuring the disc?
    Of course, we have to do our part post op and be far more careful about how and what we lift, or bend or twist, but also need to continuously work at keeping our core muscles strong, our weights down, and getting excercise, all help .
    Hang in there, as time goes on, you will find that you are able to make adjustments in how you go about things, and are able to get back into living without the constant worry of doing something to worsen things.
  • I can totally understand your fears. I am post op 4 months. Another spinal fusion-L3L4. My first was 21 years ago L5S1. Although the surgery resolved some of the pain I was experiencing I still have a lot to pain in my lower back. I, too, live in fear of doing something that will really hurt or damage my recovery. I am in PT and see a therapist once a week. I highly recommend seeing a professional to deal with the feeling, emotions and fears related to our conditions. My friends and family are very supportive, but, I feel like they are getting tired of hearing me talk about my pain. It helps to have a safe place to talk about how I feel without any judgment. Please look for a therapist to talk to about how you feel. Ours feelings and emotions can influence our recovery. Good luck to you.
  • First, thank you for your service. My family is so excited to celebrate July 4th this year! We always have a good time, but I also try to remind them even from a young age what sacrifices it takes.

    Second: a quick story... I had some major spinal repairs last summer, afterwards I spent 10 days in ICU NOT from infection/complication etc... but my body just crashed because of the extensiveness of the surgeries. Truthfully, I don't remember most of it, and some of what I remember is positive (like finding out I was FINALLY going to be an Aunt after years of prayers, and later finding out I was going to be an Aunt to TWINS)... but the negative I remember...is brutal. I try not to think about it. Since last summer I have had three more surgeries (gall bladder evicted, and two much small scale spinal surgeries). NONE of this compares to the few days I spent with my daughter in the hospital in May. She's a severe asthmatic and we had a few very rough days. While at the hospital with her, I was fine, calm, collected. The next week it hit me and I threw up every day, couldn't eat... The children's hospital is in the same complex as the main hospital. Yesterday we drove by it on the way home from our first Baseball game as a family (It rained, my son threw up... we had a great time! No seriously, we did....lol). Anyways, we drove by there (and I've been by there so many times as my surgeon's office is there) and all of a sudden I started having an anxiety attack...something I *almost* never have. My chest tightened, I couldn't breath, I had to put my head between my legs, I broke out into a sweat and chills together. My husband who was merging onto a major interstate started freaking out and finally I manged to say, "anxiety"... and he started saying thinks like, "She's fine... can't you hear how loud she's singing, she's fine, she breathing fine." After I FINALLY calmed down I ended up confessing to him that I wasn't even thinking about her (sadly) but just pain of last summer felt like it was washing all over me again. We've all been there.... hang in there. Time helps. I tell people all the time the emotional aspect of spine issues is far worse than the physical.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • the waves of sudden anxiety and fears can crop up out of nowhere and we don't always know how to handle them or respond when they do. Back pain , surgery, prolonged recovery and fear of debilatating pain all over again can overwhelm anyone, no matter how stable we may be in ordinary circumstances.
    Find a good chronic pain therapist, they are out there, and let them help you to find some peace and ease some of your fears. Also talk to your surgeon about steps that you can take to try to minimize any future injury.
    Hang in there, we are here to help.
  • Hi,

    I know exactly how you feel. I am going through the same at the moment. I managed to avoid surgery thanks to an alternative therapy which cost me loads of money but I think it was worth it. Now that I am almost pain free I finally realised how bad I was. Unlike you I have absolutely no one in my life who would give me any support where I live so consider yourself lucky. I managed to get rid of sciatica in my left leg and now I can laugh without any pain. It feels amazing. I still have a bit of back pain and have the same fears 'what if it comes back?'. I don't like the fact that you think because you're a war vet you're supposed to be tough and have no feelings. Quite the opposite I would say. You might be more vulnurable. Anyway, what helps me is the way I think about how I injured my back first. It didn't happen overnight. I was ignoring my body for a long time and making it go to the gym. Eventually it got really bad but it took a year. The fact you listen to it more now is a good sign and I do the same. If something doesn't feel right, I don't do it. Thanks to the therapy I had I can do most things except for running and crazy body combat classes I used to do a lot. Have you been given any exercises? I keep on doing mine and I still have loads of tight muscles in my leg so doing lots of stretching to stay flexible. I have only been pain free for two weeks but it looks like you have been there for a bit longer. I think we all need psychological support regardless of where we are with our pain issues. Back pain is terrible. It's like a natural disaster because it affects almost every part of your life. It's a bit of a post-traumatic stress disorder. If nothing helps then maybe try anti-depressants. They do stop bad thoughts. I have been on them twice in my life. Good luck!
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