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nervous about lumbar laminectomy L4-5 in 2 days

I have been reading this forum for the past couple of hours and already found a great deal of useful information. I have lived with chronic back pain for several years but have been able to manage the pain fairly well by using naproxyn, doing stretching exercises, and being careful about lifting, moving stuff. I also have DDD, osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis.

About a year ago, I began having pain in my legs which didn't go away with my medication. I assumed it was my arthritis getting worse. I went through several accupuncture sessions which helped alleviate the pain temporarily; at first the relief lasted several weeks but as the year went by, the relief was shortened. My doctors prescribed different medications and pt. Nothing seemed adequate--my condition worsened. I called my doctor to see if I could get an MRI to find out what was going on in my body; as luck would have it, she had just left on vacation. The pain was getting so bad I could hardly walk; I went to the ER. They wouldn't do an MRI because I had no traumatic injury but they gave me hydroxodone and flexiril. I finally got in to my doctor who sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed compression, bulging, loss of alignment and the doctor referred me to a neurosurgeon. Additionally, my doctor prescribed tramadol for pain relief.

When I saw the neurosurgeon he wanted to take the conservative approach, so I went for pt again, and had an epidural. Several years previously I had an epidural for back pain and the injection helped tremendously. This time I felt a little relief for about 4 days. Now I'm scheduled to have surgery at L4-5 to relieve the pressure on the nerves and at the same time have fusion done. the doctor said I should have relief right away from the leg pains but the relief for the back pain is about 50/50. At this point, any relief would be wonderful.

Of course, the neurosurgeon really didn't emphasize the time needed for post-surgery recovery. I discovered what that might be like by reading through this forum. I am glad to get the information but I'm still nervous about the surgery. After all I am not a young chick; I'm a silver haired granny.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/15/2013 - 12:11 PM
    I totally understand your nervousness so close to your laminectomy and fusion!

    To try to reassure you, I had a lumbar laminectomy and fusion of L4/5 over 3 years ago.
    My surgeon told me that the surgery would help most with the bilateral sciatica but hoped that it would also help with the lower back pain. The surgery gave me wonderful relief.

    The recover was not easy, but it was not as bad as I had feared. I was 53 when I had it and recovered well. I did follow the rules that the surgeon gave me and the things I had read on here. I am very pleased that I decided to go ahead with the surgery and it gave me back a more normal life.

    I have since had two levels of my neck fused. That was an easier surgery to recover from but it has not given me as much relief.

    Do read the thread at the top of the Back and Neck Surgery thread on Useful Items for Post Surgery. Don't be scare by how long it is. It is referring to neck surgery as well as back surgery. If you can't find it let me know and I will post a link to it.

    Do get your home prepared for your return after surgery. You don't have long, but make an area where you will be able to lie comfortably with lots of pillows to help get you comfortable. Also have a firm seat where you can sit. You won't be able to sit for more than 20-30 minutes at first and will probably only sit to eat meals. Walking is about the best thing you can do, but only take short frequent walks. I used to get up and walk, sit for a meal, get up and walk then go and lie down to rest for a while before repeating. Things will get easier and you will be able to be up for longer, sit for longer and take longer walks.

    Place things that you use frequently and some clothing (loose) and wash items at a height where you can access them without bending or reaching.

    You will need a grabber. I hope you have one already.
    Will you have someone with you for the first week or two to help you? I hope you will, because it will make things much easier for you.

    Do ask any other questions that you have.
    Good luck. I will look out for news of how you get on.

  • I had surgery on July 17. Immediately after surgery, the pain in my legs was gone. However, the pain at the incision was horrible. I was in the hospital 3 full days. by 24 hours after surgery I was able to get up and walk without assistance. I was surprised at how bad the pain was even while I was on the narcotics.
    It is now almost 2 weeks post op; I am still taking hydoxydone, flexiril, and tramadol. I can take care of myself--grooming, dressing, etc.I'm actually more comfortable sitting in my lounge chair than anywhere else but I get antsy and have to move often. The pain changes--low level soreness when I am very still to dramatic jolts of pain when I move or try to lift something. I have followed my doctor's instructions carefully but I feel that I did not have adequate information about the post op recovery. I was on so much pain medication before surgery that I didn't really think about doing the research so I didn't find this forum until close to surgery. Luckily, my husband was able to be home with me for the first 2 weeks and he has been wonderful. He is even taking me on a cruise in August to give me more time for recovery--and for him to rest also.
  • It sounds like you are on the way to recovery.
    A cruise sounds like a lovely place to continue this.
    Where will you be cruising?

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