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Return of pain, post discectomy - Is it normal?

pavlovthecatppavlovthecat Posts: 3
edited 10/17/2013 - 11:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all. I am a lurker, but never posted before.

I have had back pain for several years, but in the last 18 months or just over, it increased and slowly, slowly prolapsed l5/s disc was diagnosed - central prolapse, but not impingeing significantly on the sciatic nerve at the first MRI. Pain increased in left leg, to the point of not being able to walk, but also my back kept giving way, lost feeling in two of my toes and edge of foot, and my muscles were in constant spasm. Second MRI saw prolapse had worsened, and when I finally got to see the neurosurgeon he diagnosed a misaligned vertebrae which he believes caused the disc to prolapse over time by pushing it out, and that is why it was getting steadily worse. He took x-rays but said he would unlikely fuse it, would just do discectomy this time as he felt the misalignment was not significant enough to risk fusing yet (but could not confirm this until the X-ray results came back).

I only saw the neurosurgeon once before surgery. He then removed most, but not all of the prolapsed disc. he removed it from the left side, but not the right (due to the way it prolapsed it was both sides, something like that), as if he did that he would have to fuse it (laminectomy on both sides would make the vertebrae too unstable, he told me something like that when I was high as a kite following surgery!) and the right prolapse was not severe.

Anyway. I had surgery mid June 2013. I have still not had my 12wk post surgical follow-up due to horrendous waiting list and not due to see him until at least christmas which will be 6 months post surgery. My GP is on that.

I was typically sore for a while, but up and about surprisingly quickly, and got back to normality really well, I had no leg pain AT ALL, just some expected back pain. But my back still kept giving way, I presumed that was normal. And, I returned to exercising, some cross trainer, swimming, pilates (slowly, not all at once!), with the guidance of a private physio (still waiting for NHS referral following surgery!).

By 12 weeks I had a few days of almost pain free. I've done it! I thought, this is it, I am on the mend! But, slowly, a couple of blips, the odd day of increased back pain, my back continuing to give way (poor muscles says physio). Slowly some pain in my legs returned, then in my feet - both legs, both feet, but no numbness like before, no pins and needles.

Now, after two weeks or more of this slowly increasing, my legs are in a lot of pain, walking hurts as the pain is shooting into my feet, I have to wear my trainers all the time now, not even work flats are any good. Where I was gaining movement and mobility I now can't bend backwards At All, and the pain when I lean forward makes me cry (just a short bit foward and back, once I am past a certain point I am reasonably ok on the down and the up). Sitting makes it worse, walking makes it worse, standing makes it worse - the only position that helps is sitting with my knees to my chest, or, weirdly leaning in my poang chair at an angle (i know, posture, posture, but it helps!).

I am worried that something is wrong.
a) scarring - can that happen at this point after surgery - internal scarring (fibroid?)
b) could it be related to the misaligned vertebra?
c) could the disc have re-prolapsed/right side prolapsed? (hope not, he said he would need to fuse if that happened)
d) something completely different?
e) this is perfectly normal and it's probably something like change of weather and will ease again.

I am hoping lots of people will come along and tell me it's e) but I am not expecting anyone will even have a clue, I am so used to being in the dark, feel like that's happening all over again. GP is chasing neuro appt and pain clinic appt.

I can't believe I had surgery and I am still in so much pain :(

Thanks for reading my epic post. Sorry.


  • oh, and I can't twist at all, or lean across in a reach, as any of those type of movements has me on the floor in a heap as my back gives way, or stood still in a fixed position while waiting for the pain of my back popping to subside.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 10/17/2013 - 11:40 AM

    Well here I am to answer your post, but I'm afraid that I can't tell you what has happened.
    I do think though that you need to let your surgeon know about all the pain you are in.
    It doesn't sound like e) to me!

    I see that you are in the UK as you mention the NHS. I am in the UK too and have experienced those loooonnnnngg waits.
    I also see that your GP is chasing up neuro and pain clinic appointments.
    I think if I was you I would contact your surgeon's secretary and let them know how much your pain is increasing and how bad it is now. I think that he needs to know about that and he may well want to see you sooner than Christmas. I am sure that you would like to see him before then too!

    Good luck and please come and let us know how you get on.

  • Thank you for replying. I say I am due to see him; I haven't got an appt yet, that's predicted. The surgeon's secretary has told me that I cannot make my way up the waiting list quicker unless my GP writes asking for me to be expedited. He is now doing that, following me going in and crying (for the millionth time in the last 18-20months!). The appts team said the secretary can expedite me, she says the gp has to do it, he has now written, but that's going to take two weeks he reckons before they even read it. And yes, UK, loooong waits - I waited 17wks and 5 days to see the surgeon from referral (the guidelines are 18wks!), I kept my job by the skin of my teeth then. I am not sure I can do that again.
  • Shyshay2006SShyshay2006 Posts: 3
    edited 10/19/2013 - 6:03 PM
    I hope you find out what's going on, soon.
    Shannon ostrander
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