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What does your post op pain/nerve recovery feel like?

I am 3 weeks past my microdisectomy, L5-S1. I am pretty much off my pain meds, taking Aleve here and there if I am feeling any post op pain/aches. I still take a muscle relaxer at night to help me not toss and turn (I flail my legs around as I toss and turn in the night).

Here and there I feel pain, really a dull ache, where I had bad nerve pain. In the side of my calf, back of thigh, butt-- esp. the side of the butt. It almost feels like a muscle ache more than anything. 99% better than I was pre-operation!! I am just wondering kind of feelings/pain folks are feeling as our nerves start to recognize that they are no longer impinged and trying to get back to normal? The pain comes mostly when I have been laying down for a while-- like gong to bed at night.

So, what's your post op nerve recovery feeling like? Besides the pain here and there, I feel like I have a new life! Chronic pain had a larger toll on me and my life than I realized, now that I am feeling 99% better!


  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,314
    edited 11/04/2013 - 2:34 AM
    as a bad back .veteran of many years 17 .....3 major operations and countless painful procedures ,can I give you some advice ??
    first a micro discectomy is one of the smaller spinal operation BUT its still spinal and that's always serious ..so take care of your new back and I would say from experience that the leg pain that you suffer with will more than likely reduce BUT I should imagine that I won't go completely ...don't do stupid things when feel better because you will hurt your back .I can't tell you have many people I know that have had spinal operations ..feeling like a new man/woman a few months after then they do something and end up back in theatre .only this time its worse because your fragile back is now suffering with even more damage and that's when the hell starts .every time you have another operation on your back your back will weaken {not my words but the words of one of the uks finest orthopaedic consultants]
    if you feel that you have achieved 99% recovery then class that as a fantastic result .look after your back and remember ITS A REPAIR and you will probably require follow up surgery within ten years ..buy yourself a top end bed and good recliner to rest in .always follow healthy back procedure if you are well enough to work .I wish you well and a continued recovery ..don't do anything to screw it up !! .my life is spent on a recliner or bed and i am many pain killers ..you don't want to be like that ...take care
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Totally agree with backache99! The feeling you have are normal but please please be careful! I went and did too much after my microD and I'm right back to the drawing board.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • Initially I had pain in the same sciatic path I'd had pre op but it was more of a dull ache and only noticeable if I were sitting too long. This gradually receded a little bit at a time and moving towards my trunk until now I have none. All of my current pain is around the incision site where all my back muscles were retracted, along with a heavy feeling in the same area. My main concerns now center around my difficulty walking any longer than 15 minutes without my thigh muscles acting like they want to give up. I had severe compression at L4-L5 for a long time so I wonder if that weakness is indicative of nerve damage that shows in other ways. Sometimes I think I will need PT to teach me how to walk again! My surgery was on Oct. 18 so it's still early times for me but I have twinges of anxiety when I read about other people walking miles and so on, because I know I can't do that yet and worry that my progress is slower than normal.
  • I am 7 days post op for l5s1 fusion. My pre op pain is gone. I have a dull ache near my incision site and I get tired pretty easily but that's it. I had a lot of leg pain pre op and now my legs twitch a lot. My muscle relaxer helps a little but its pretty annoying.
    PILF of L5 S1 on October 29, 2013. Psoriatic arthritis, spondylolisthesis L5 and fractured L5 and DDD
  • I had a fusion at the L5/S1 level just over 6 months ago and have had nerve pain since about 10 weeks out or so. I've been on Lyrica for a little over 2 months and my surgeon states that I am 100% fused. However, the nerve pain is still there, not nearly as bad as it was before surgery. However, my surgeon said that I need to give my severely damaged nerve time to rebuild and heal, so let's give it some more time with a higher dose of Lyrica and see where we go. The nerve pain I have now is NOTHING in comparison to what I had before surgery.
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • 6.5 weeks out of PLIF with hardware at L4/L5/S1. After surgery, all pre-op symptoms were gone. Stopped pain meds at3 weeks. Two weeks later, i noticed numbness (but not pain) in inside of my right calf and across my toes. Nothing compared to pre-op! Surgeon says this can happen but will likely diminish or disappear eventually, can take a year or more. I was worried because it started up after weeks of nothing. But apparently this is normal. I may start taking gabapentin again for awhile to manage it...long term I wouldn't keep taking it for this, but at this point I don't want the niggling worry that comes with any little anomaly!
  • Jessica11JJessica11 Posts: 70
    edited 11/22/2013 - 5:11 AM
    2 weeks out of L4/5 MicroD
    The muscles in my back from the end of my ribs to my pelvis just ache and feel tired all the time.
    The sharp stabbing pain and cramps along the nerve path is gone, which is wonderful. But I still have numbness/pins and needles in my lower leg and foot.
    My foot and ankle have been sore.
    And I've had some minor, deep cramping in my thigh.
    Compressed Discs/DDD - L2/L3, L3/L4
    Major Herniation - L4/L5
    Bulging Disc - L5/S1
    "no healthy 24 year old's back should look like this without a major trauma"
    MicroDisc L4/L5 Nov 7, 2013
  • MollyAkMMollyAk Posts: 114
    edited 11/22/2013 - 7:58 AM
    So funny you would mention others walking for so far and feeling anxious about it! That's been on the top of my list too! I can't walk as far as others even though I'm feeling so much better than pre-op. I got a treadmill specifically for recovery and I'm walking an hour total, give or take in several sessions throughout the day but I'm only walking about 1 mph. Strolling speed. I tried to speed up and increase time because I was feeling behind the curve and it made me feel horrid! So, I stopped doing that. It's always nice to not feel like the only one!
    L5 S1 MicroD - August 21, 2013
    L5 S1 Fusion - October 17, 2013
    44 year old
  • Our surgeries were one day apart (mine on Oct. 18) and similar (mine a one level fusion at L4-L5 after laminectomy for spinal stenosis) so I'm glad to have a buddy to share notes with about my progress. I've been cleared for water based PT and am going for my evaluation on this Monday. My walking abilities are my main concerns right now. I have a treadmill as well but like you I can't go any faster than a stroll. My muscles really need reconditioning. But my pre op neuro symptoms and pain are gone. So I just need to devote myself to rehabilitation and recovery. I'll keep updating.
  • Great! I'd love to share notes, I have some pre surgery nerve damage in my left leg and foot that has caused some other problems with walking and made a tendon want to shorten, strangly enough. I sent you a PM earlier. Thanks!
    L5 S1 MicroD - August 21, 2013
    L5 S1 Fusion - October 17, 2013
    44 year old
  • hey Molly and HOlly - i had an L4/L5 micrdodisc too on Oct 12. so close! i feel the exact same way! right now im up to walking 1mile a day total - thats pretty much walking around my house or sometimes in the yard. i feel like everythime i go do something else, like drive to the store (10 min away) or stand for too long (more than an hour at a time) i start to feel horrible!
    i remember my surgeon telling me id be back to work by now and feelng great. well i do def feel ALOT better than pre surgery but the pain is def not gone. id say im at 60% better right now. i just feel like my recovery is being SO SLOW!
    my dr even told me i could lift my 3 month old baby (13lbs) starting at 2 weeks, but i waited until this week (5.5 weeks) to be safe. well i had a day where i lifted him prolly 5 times (never bending over -just had someone hand him to me) and the next day - oh man i was hurting. i had to ice ALOT and rest ALOT. right now its like 1-2 days good, 1-days bad. im still not doing anythign crazy when i feel good, but like today is a good day so i decided id go to the pet store (instead of my husband) to get the dog food. now i didnt lift anything or even get a cart - i just had someone there get it for me. so i basically drove 10 min and came home...we will see how much i hurt.

    my pain now is still nerve pain (knot feeling, tingling, burning) mainy in my butt and upper thighs. on really bad days i get tingling down to my feet. the only difference is i have it now on both sides of my butt - before surgery it was only the left.
    my dr keeps telling me its normal....god i hope so! i have my 6 week appt on Dec 4. we will see.
  • MollyAkMMollyAk Posts: 114
    edited 11/23/2013 - 9:52 AM
    I don't blame you at all for wanting to take it easy especially with lifting! It must be hard with a little one too, Im glad it sounds like you have help taking care of her or him.

    Not to sound to pathetic.... But I haven't driven anywhere since the first surgery! We have stick shifts and I just imagine some numb footed, gear clashing catastrophe! I'm a little gun shy since the first surgery didn't hold, i don't want to do too little or too much but it's hard to know until afterwards, when you're in pain and saying "I guess that was too much".

    I'm not having any nerve pain per se but the nerve damage is quite annoying. I wonder if I'll ever be ever to wear all my cute heels again?! My red holiday shoes look pretty lonely! I just know I'd take a header though, with half a foot being numb my balance is not flawless. Guess that could add to future holiday stories though.

    I hope you get good news on your follow up and feel better everyday!
    L5 S1 MicroD - August 21, 2013
    L5 S1 Fusion - October 17, 2013
    44 year old
  • My L5-S1 fusion was 2 1/2 years ago and I still have residual nerve pain in my left leg. After surgery it was reduced from a 9/10 to a 2-3/10. My Neurosurgeon said it will probably never go away but the goal is to lessen it enough to improve pain/life. I would have seriously considered checking out if I had to live with the 9/10 pain before surgery. I have come to terms with the fact that I have it forever and that's ok, I can live with it.
    Unfortunately I have had further deterioration at other levels but that's a different story.

    It just hurts. A lot.

  • awalshaawalsh Posts: 33
    edited 11/26/2013 - 6:49 AM
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    is always the most difficult to get rid of. Many times, we never do get rid of it. So much depends on what was the cause of our nerve damage (disc impingement on a nerve root) and how long it was before we had surgery , and how long the surgery was.

    I have permanent nerve damage in my right leg from the knee down. I have a semi drop foot. EMG results indicate the number of nerves that were damage and are dead.

    But on the brighter side, nerve recovery takes a lot longer than the actual recovery from the disc surgery, fusion or not. Many times it can take up to 18 months before things get back to where they should be. There are a number of nerve medications that can help you though this. That burning stabbing pain you can get from nerve damage can be helped to an extent using those medications.

    Discuss all of this with your doctor. She what he/she thinks in terms about the nerve damage after your surgery. We could give you all sorts of information, but your doctor is going to be the one that can provide you with details about YOU!
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Are these nerve medications to help with the pain or help the nerves actually heal?
    Compressed Discs/DDD - L2/L3, L3/L4
    Major Herniation - L4/L5
    Bulging Disc - L5/S1
    "no healthy 24 year old's back should look like this without a major trauma"
    MicroDisc L4/L5 Nov 7, 2013
  • SteveTSSteveT Posts: 178
    edited 11/29/2013 - 9:37 AM
    Nerve medications like Neurontin and Lyrica are to help with the pain. Only time can heal nerves unfortunately.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • Hello Everyone,
    I'm on day 9 of post op from L1/S5 Fusion and Foraminotomy. I know the recovery will be months long, but my concern is the amount of pain in my legs and pelvic region in the morning. It's much worse than pre op and nearly unbearable. My question is: Is this typical at my stage of recovery?
  • Everyone has difference recovery experiences which makes it so hard to determine what is normal. The only way is to call your sugeon and ask. My surgeon has a great nurse that has been very helpful to me before and after all of my surgeries.

    I am shocked at the lack of pain that I have had during my recovery. I really thought that I was going to be in more pain than I have been. I have mostly had muscle aches and a bit of incision site pain (itching terribly at the moment). I have taken myself off the Percocet and I am taking Extra Strength Tylenol. I am also on MS Contin weaning to be off it by the end of the month(per the surgerons orders). I take Robaxin during the day when my muscles act up and at night I take a Valium for the muscles and to help me sleep. Every so often if I have been standing for too long I will have some numbness in my toes and a slight cramp in my calf, but that is just my body telling me I have over done it and it is time to lay down and rest. I am quite please with my results and I am happy that I made the choice to have the fusion.

    L4-L5 Herniated 02-02-2013 (Slipped on Ice)
    L4-L5 MicroD 08-07-2013, Reherniated 10-21-2013
    L4-L5 MicroD Revision 10-07-2013, Reherniated 10-17-2013
    L4-L5 PLIF/TLIF 10-02-2013
    Released From Surgeon & All Restrictions 03-06-2014
  • sleepy20520ssleepy20520 Posts: 111
    edited 12/20/2013 - 10:21 AM
    I am 10 weeks post op today. I wish i could say its all roses but it most certainly is not. I had alot of nerve pain on and off after surgery up until about 6 weeks and it finally started to ease off....which was amazing! I had days where i felt halfway normal but i still refrained from doing anything "crazy"
    usually by the end of the day my legs and back felt sore/tired (not nerve pain) and after a good rest i felt fine the next morning.
    well about at that point, i had an accident and slipped and fell in my living room....bent all the way over trying to catch myself and landed on my back/butt. ever since then ive had on/off nerve pain in both legs/feet. its not as bad as pre surgery still but alot more than it was before i fell. i feel like i took 10 steps back...so frustrating. its been 2 weeks now and the only time i feel good is first thing in the morning, after ive been laying down all night long. after i get up and walk for about an hour (just in my house) back comes the nerve pain and it stays with me all day until bed time again. id say my pain right now is at a 5 (before surgery it was a 10+!)...so im PRAYING i didnt reherniate and perhaps its just irritated...altho everyday i start to lose hope when its just another day without improvement. im stuck at walking only 1 mile a day TOTAL...if i stand up for more than an hour, it hurts. so this leaves me basically stuck at home. i cant even go to the store for more than 20 min because i start hurting again. well all i can do now is wait....i have a follow up MRI scheduled in 3 weeks (thanks to the busy holiday schedule)...so im waiting and praying its nothing requiring more surgery.
    One minute i think, it cant be reherniated because the pain isnt worse than before surgery, or because it comes and goes...my pain before surgery was 90% constant.
    But then I will have 2-3 hours where the nerve pain in my feet wont go away and i start to freak out! I do my best to keep my mind off it but when all i can do is lay down most of the day, its hard NOT to think about it.
    Im even more frustrated because ive been on advil and tylenol to the max for 4 months now and id hate to cause some nasty liver damage and was hoping to ween off it.... i doubt thats gona happen.
    Anyways just a litle frustrated... :(
  • on my nervesoon my nerves Posts: 116
    edited 12/21/2013 - 1:11 AM
    It's so frustrating taking that step backwards. I hope you start to feel better very soon.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • on my nerves-thansk so much! im still waiting for my follow up MRI in 2 weeks... and still having the same pains :(

    Molly - funny you say that, my car is a stick shift (my husbands is not) so my car has been sitting in the same spot in my driveway since i gave birth to my son (my back problem started then too). i havent driven it in 5+ months. lol
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