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Post microdiscectomy July 17 - 4 days in

Had stabbing pain in left hip and running down left hamstring to Achilles. Got to the point where I could not put socks on and function normally with the family. Went from active runner/triathlete to being unable to run at all in a short time. Tried epidural steroid injections and felt they gave me no relief at all. Saw two surgeons and both recommended surgery. To add to it all I recently lost my job and so needed to get functional again as i need to get paid.
Surgery was successful. Leg pain is gone, although I do have some numbness in the left foot little toe and round the left side of the foot which I did not have before. Have walked every day and although my gait is a little off, made it a mile today with no issues. Have got through today with no Vicodin needed, although plan on taking a couple tonight to try and sleep through the night.
Main issue I want to ask about is lower back pain at the incision site. Has everyone/ anyone had issues with this? Getting some pretty good spasms when I remotely twist or lean forward. PT in hospital said no twisting so I am doing my best, but sometimes just adjusting in a chair makes a little jolt of pain at the incision site. I am assuming this is normal and a result of the surgery on the back and surrounding muscles, although I have not seen much on the message boards of people commenting on this.
I feel I am getting better each day, but need to be patient judging by what I have read. It's accepting its going to be a long process before I am running again.
Any input on the lower back issues much appreciated.

Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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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
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/21/2013 - 10:22 PM
    Are you only 4days post surgery? Already walking a mile? I would slow it down a bit. I know everyone is different but I'm sure a dr would not recommend walkin this much 4days after. Not sure how you are doing that...lol. I'm good just to my mailbox and back. Anyways. I'm 9 days post surgery and surprised that I can bend and twist my waist with minimal pain. Not really feeling any spasms at all. My incision is very tender, but that's about it. My annoyance is still my leg. Still flares up with walking or sitting long periods. Hoping that dies down with time. Really can't go back to work unless I can sit comfortably. Hope someone else chimes in.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • IronmanmattIIronmanmatt Posts: 9
    edited 07/22/2013 - 1:55 AM
    Was told to walk by surgeon after my procedure. He talked of walking "around the block" as long as it doesn't hurt. I had extensive talks with him regarding how active I was prior to the injury. I was running 5 miles 4 days a week, along with weekend bike rides and swims, and was in training for a half ironman in September. The mile walk was split into two, 1/2 mile in the morning and 1/2 mile in the evening so only about 15 minutes each time. Rest of the day is spent on a recliner as sitting gets uncomrtable after 10 minutes or so. I do have a sore calf today and think that's down to my gait being different. Going to take it easy today, only walk once this evening I think. Had the best nights sleep yet last night, 2 Vicodin and slept through from 10-6:30. Also managed to sleep on my side for the first time since surgery.
    Still have the foot numbness. Scared of bending and twisting due to the chance of reoccurrence, so trying to avoid that. Especially as I have to find a job now.
    Thanks for the response and I will follow your recovery and posts in the other forums closely

    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. Microdiscectomy L5S1 July 17
    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • Well then, I guess it makes sense that a 1 mile walk is "resting" for you...lol. I'm 55 and was pretty out of shape before all this happend. Was making headway at the gym before my back injury, but had not been in 3 months before surgery for fear of injuring it further. I'm really anxious to get into PT to find out what kind of exercises to do to rehab my now weak leg and to not re-injure my back. I'm sure walking will be part of it. I will likely do this at the gym on the treadmill where I will have bars to hold on to.

    Good news on the sleep. That has not been much of a problem to me, thankfully.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Pam,
    Thanks for the response. Is their a way on these forums to search for your posts? Did you make an initial post or just comments on others. I tried to find one but had no luck.
    Working out was a big part of my life. I would run during my lunch hour at work, and looked forwards to weekends when I could get out early on long bike rides. So to me, doing nothing is very difficult. I should be happy having walked a mile but am not. More frustrated than anything that i am so far away from where I was. This is a mindset I need to get out of for a while I am going to recover successfully. I am hopeful I will be back in the near future to triathlons and marathons. Fingers crossed.
    I am also anxious for PT. see the doc for follow up this Friday and then will go from there. I have read a lot on these forums and its clear each case is very different.
    I turn 40 next year so want to celebrate with Ironman triathlon if possible. It's a good target to have I think.
    As for work, i am applying and hoping that this does not affect my chances for positions.

    Hope you are having a good day.
    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/22/2013 - 10:31 AM
    I have not started any topics. Just generally post on things I can relate to. I post occasionally on the July buddy board...I think you would qualify since your surgery was in July. everyone is very welcoming. I also look for newly posted topics and answer if I can so they are not left there hanging. It's a good forum, but it takes participation to make it really good.

    I got up today, made my bed and did a little easy house work. I'm alone today so I'm on my own. I made a grocery list and really thought about driving the mile up there to do the shopping in the electric grocery cart they have, but then I have no help when I get home to bring it in and put it away. I decided to wait till my husband gets home to take me and help.

    I was up and moving for a good 2 hours on my feet and it felt pretty good. Better than sitting. Sitting hurts the most, oddly. Time for a Horizontal rest :). I get on my iPad, check Facebook, twitter, enter sweepstakes (a hobby), listen to my police scanner ap (weird I know...lol). Time seems to pass.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Matt
    I'm had much the same experience as you the first couple weeks. I was walking roughly 3 miles a day doing 3 separate mile walks, by the end of the day my hips and calfs were very sore due to my awkward gait. You have to remember they moved your back muscles aside to get at your spine so those muscles need to recover and you will have pain for awhile. I am 3 weeks post surgery now and things are a lot better. I still have lingering pain in my back muscles but not near as bad, and my gait is back to normal so walking is much easier. Had my first post op appointment last week, told the surgeon about my walking and he told me that was great. He told me I couldn't walk enough as long as it wasn't overly painful. Told him I still have lingering sciatic pain but he said not to worry much because the nerve will be inflamed awhile due to him digging around in there. Like you i am a very active person and truthfully am getting really stir-crazy due to being very limited in what I can do. But there is hope, two of my friends I play hockey with had this same surgery two years ago and we were playing together last year. I have had the benefit of their experiences and it has really helped. Basically they both told me to be patient, you WILL have bad days but that is part of the recovery, the end result will be to get back to life as before just a little more aware. Hope that helps, anything I can help you with as far as my experience I would be happy to, I log on every couple of days so feel free to ask.
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/22/2013 - 11:09 AM
    Thanks for the positive outlook Cliner. You should pos on this topic asking for good outcome stories!! Just copy paste this :). I'm so glad to hear this leg pain/annoyance will eventually go away!!
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • thanks for the post. definitely an improvement over the last couple of days. soreness in my hip and left calf still from the strange gait, but the walking has improved so I am hopeful that pain will go as I continue to walk somewhat normally.
    sitting is still uncomfortable so am trying to limit that to 10-20 minutes each time.i am lucky to have my wife home - she is a school teacher and does not work summers - and she has been great in helping and also making sure I am not doing too much. she knows me well and knows how much I like to workout and how much I miss it. she has threatened to take away my running shoes and bike wheels if I do things too quick! Cliner - I totally understand the stir crazy feeling, especially as where I sit in my recliner I seem to have a stream of runners and bikers going by my window tormenting me.
    did you get an ok to get into a pool yet? would love to get in and water walk. guess the incision has to heal first. any idea how long that takes on average?
    heading to the library today for books on yoga and pilates. any experience with that and back issues?
    I am hoping you are both having good days today. patience is definitely the key.
    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/24/2013 - 6:15 AM
    Hi Matt, my last 2 days were pretty good. Felt like I turned a corner and have a little more energy these days. My leg pain is either improving or I'm getting use to it. Just not bugging me as much lately. Went to my doctor yesterday. He approved me to begin PT. Also I can drive and go to my gym to do walking only...no running (duh), or heavy lifting of 10 lbs or more. Said I will be out on medical leave for about6 more weeks from work.

    I still need about 1 to 2 Vicadins a day. That's down from about 5 a day at my peak. Glad you are doing well Matt and that your wife is there to help.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Have not gotten in the water yet, i was told only walking and light stretching so far. I have my 4 week appointment tomorrow so i will ask him about swimming and let you know. I think my incision is healed so hopefully i will get the ok. Before the surgery I was doing some pilates excercises and yoga stretches to strengthen my legs and core. They seemed to really work for the inner core muscles that wrap the spine. I had no previous experience with either so I had a physical therapist line me out on which excercises were good, she also told me that some of the excersises(especially yoga) can actually do more harm so be a little wary. I dont know if those "harmful" ones will apply to post op excercise regime but hoping he gives me the ok to start therapy tomorrow so i can ask. I will let you know what he says tomorrow.
  • I heard there is a video called " Pilates for Fragile Backs" I'm going to check out.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Pam; Glad to hear your doing well. How did you feel right after surgery? Some wrote that it wasn't too bad and was much less than sciatica and some wrote they felt like they were hit by a bus. Some wrote the surgical site itself felt really strange and painful and they were very weak. My concern is that I am 50 and not in the best shape. I used to work out a couple of years ago but since this back issue, I have been basically not doing much at all for over a year. It is an effort to walk at all these days.
  • start pt monday, super excited to do something active hopefully will take care of lingering nerve pain once muscles are loose and strong again. let you know what the therapist says about swimming.
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/27/2013 - 7:18 AM
    Cathy....I actually felt pretty good after surgery. Had some immediate relief in the leg from the nerve pain which was thrilling. I had also heard some stories of having pain when they breathed, difficulty changing positions, etc. Not so much for me. I slept on my side the first night and had one of the best nights sleep in weeks....cuz the darn leg pain was gone!!! It was painful getting in and out of bed....just have to do it VERY slow. Once up, I was fine walking, etc. I borrowed a walker for night time potty trips for stability. Used a cane in the daytime. overall.....much less pain than I expected. My back pain at the surgical sit is pretty minor. My issues with recovery is lingering nerve pain in my foot and hip pain when I walk...as well as general weakness in my right leg.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • IronmanmattIIronmanmatt Posts: 9
    edited 08/01/2013 - 1:51 PM
    Apologies for not posting sooner. Decided to stay off line for a little while during recovery. Lost my job a couple of weeks before surgery so don't have the iPhone anymore to be connected 24/7. I actually really like it, and life does go on as usual without access to the Internet!
    Things have been up and down for me both physically and mentally. Recovery is going well, 10 day post surgery visit was good. Things healing nicely and only small moments of discomfort in leg and lower back, especially if I over do it a little. Still have the foot numbness which I don't like but that's just a wait and see thing. Going on vacation July 16th and so go back to surgeon on 9th to hopefully get the ok to go in the pool. Fingers crossed.
    I am bored out of my mind at home. Trying to be careful but sitting around is not my thing. Have taken my kids to the pool as they are active and I don't want them sitting at home all summer. They walk with me am and pm, and we do about a mile each time now.
    I didn't realize how hard mentally this would be. I think it's a success so far, but I feel so far away from what I used to do, and I am having a hard time looking ahead to see me there again. My wife even said today that I seemed a little depressed. I think it's just been a bad day of being indoors,it rained all day, not being able to play with my kids like I want, having some other pains from sitting or sleeping funny. I have a very sore neck and back muscles and a numbness in my left elbow???
    Combine that with not having a job and not certain when I can function enough to apply and interview, just a bad day.
    Sorry to moan. Need to be positive that the leg pain is gone and I am on the uphill part of recovery.
    Hope everyone is having a good day and getting better.

    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • IronmanmattIIronmanmatt Posts: 9
    edited 08/01/2013 - 1:54 PM

    How was PT? What did they have you do?
    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • Cliner157CCliner157 Posts: 8
    edited 08/02/2013 - 7:42 AM
    pt is good, they just have me doing some light abdominal work and hamstring stretching right now. the bad thing is i am so tight that it is painful and actually agrivates the nerve, but after the excercise i ice down and the nerve pain goes away so it must just be inflammation. took some ibeprofen for the first time yesterday and it helped greatly. don't really want to start taking it but if it helps reduce the inflammation like that i might have to think about it. had not taken any pills since day 2 post op mostly due to stubborness and hoping my body would take care of itself. on a whole i am doing good, i do feel better since starting the pt although it is surprising how tight and out of shape i became in those 4 weeks of inactivity, but it is definately a mental boost doing something pro-active for once. next week start work on the total gym so right now just looking forward to that.
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 08/02/2013 - 1:05 PM
    Turns out my PT doesnt begin until 8/12...1 month from the surgery date...ugh!! I suppose he has reasons, but I feel like Im sitting around wasting time.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • IronmanmattIIronmanmatt Posts: 9
    edited 08/12/2013 - 12:13 AM
    So things seemed to be going well with recovery until about a week ago I started to get stabbing pain in my hip when I turned a certain way. This is happening mostly at night when I am in bed and try to turn over, or when I am sitting in a hard chair and try and get up. It is particularly bad in bed when I try and turn over and get comfortable. It's a quick shot of pain in the hip, then dissipates a little once I stop the movement. Once I am up and moving things are ok and I can walk around pretty well. Saw the surgeon last week and he said its just the nerve correcting itself/ scaring, but just to keep him updated. Anyone else experience this type of thing returning after things seemed to be going well. I am afraid I my have reherniated but the surgeon seemed confident it was not that and just part of the healing process.
    I am definately better than I was pre op but the shooting pain is about a 7/8 for a second or two when it happens.
    I am still walking a couple of miles a day and have the ok to get in the pool now so doing water walking as well.
    Matt. Father of two boys aged 3 and 6. L5S1 microdiscectomy July 17, 2013
  • I had L5-S1 far lateral microD on 7/18/13 and have certainly had my ups and downs. Lately I'm doing better but I too have shooting pain if I turn the wrong way (also mostly in bed at night). I haven't asked anyone about it yet and am assuming it's part of the healing process. My leg pain has improved a lot and I'm walking pretty much everyday. I still have some numbness/tingling of my left foot but rarely any lateral calf pain which is where my predominant peroperative pain was.

    I do have (as I've posted elsewhere) a tubular lump running perpendicular to my scar. It's about 3" long, 1 1/2" wide and is raised about 3/4". It's not tender and is kind of firm (feels like a small cucumber under my skin). It is a little tender just below it. I called my MD's office and the nurse told me that "it happens sometimes and is a collection of fluid and blood from the surgery and will eventually go away." I was just wondering if anyone has a similar thing.
  • I have had some hip pain that comes and goes, but can't say that it is at a particular time. It would make sense to me that if you are shifting in bed that maybe something presses on your nerve as you shift and it gives you a jolt. If it goes away, especially when you are standing/walking, etc. I would figure it as nerve pain and not a re-herniation. I really think that if you re-herniated, you would have more leg-involved pain and constant. A couple of people on here have had this happen and it does not go away....it is constant pain. Feel so bad for them.

    Glad you called the doc about your back lump. I wonder if putting ice on it would help reduce the swelling? My scar area is completely flat now, except for the scar itself. I'm really feeling good these days. Went shopping this morning for about 2 hours. I was really tired after. I have been noticing that my upper back muscles are hurting a bit...most likely from being used more these days. I am clear to start PT. Need to call Kaiser tomorrow to see if they got my doctor's orders and to schedule. I think I will be out from work for another month or so.
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
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