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Pain, walking, pain meds after lumbar fusion HELP!

Help, I am struggling! I am 4.5 weeks post op from fusion, and trying to wean off hydrocodone. I started with 12 percoset a day the first 2 weeks over which time I reduced to 8 per day. Then I switched to hydrocodone. I was able to reduce to 7 per day last week, but had trouble over the weekend when taking care of my young child and bumped back up to 8. I started work from home today and tried to just take 6 but was totally miserable all day and took one more in the evening. I know walking us very important so I have a pedometer and walk about 3.5 miles per day. I have bad nerve pain on the right side that flares up throughout the day. I am curious to know how soon others have weaned off of pain meds and what is normal and what I should strive for. I am still in ALOT of pain but want to get off these meds, should I just be tough and grind through the pain? What is the right balance? Am I being too aggressive on the walking? Is it ok to keep taking 7-8 hydros a day for a few more weeks? All opinions, thoughts, and experiences are welcome!!!! Please help!!!
Persistant lumbar pain for 5 years. Nerve pain in legs with numbness at times. Herniated disc and DDD at L4/L5 with nerve impingement. Tried physical therapy, yoga, chiropractor, steroid injections, etc. TLIF and decompression scheduled for 2/20/2014


  • Teelee1TTeelee1 Posts: 23
    edited 03/25/2014 - 7:35 AM
    Would love to hear your thoughts!!!!!
    Persistant lumbar pain for 5 years. Nerve pain in legs with numbness at times. Herniated disc and DDD at L4/L5 with nerve impingement. Tried physical therapy, yoga, chiropractor, steroid injections, etc. TLIF and decompression scheduled for 2/20/2014
  • RubyTuesdayRRubyTuesday Posts: 195
    edited 03/25/2014 - 7:57 AM
    I'm 3 months post-op from a lumbar fusion at L4-L5. You must really be in terrible pain because I don't think I ever took more than 4 or 5 hydrocodone a day even right after I got home from the hospital (10mg at first, then5 mg). What's being done about the nerve pain? Does your doctor have you on something for that? I have a nerve issue in my left foot and I'm on gabapentin for it which really helps with the pain from it (Neurontin is the brand name). If you could get your nerve pain under control, do you think you could take fewer pain pills?

    Don't make yourself miserable with pain, that will only delay your recovery. You're only one month out which isn't long at all. Take what you need to live your life and take care of your family. I didn't get out and walk because of the weather in January and February and I'm doing just fine. I know lots of people on this site are walking 3 and 4 miles a day, but if you can't do it, don't push yourself. Do what you can do and don't make yourself more miserable and more apt to keep having to take the pain pills. Slow down, be lazy if you have to be and take care of YOU! :-)
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • First, what milligram hydrocodone pills are you taking? 6 pills of 5 mg is one thing but 6 pills of 10 is another story. Also understand that there are different types of pain. If you are having nerve pain, no amount of narcotic medication is going to help. You will need a different class drug med for that. Only your doctor can tell you what type of pain you're having.

    You should walk only as much as you can without causing too much pain. Each person has their own pain threshold so trying to say what you should be doing is pretty tough. Your doctor who operated on you is the best to guide you post op until he/she feel your ready to move along. Only a month out from surgery you should be making some progress but make sure your not doing any BLT stuff.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Don't rush with reducing the meds. Being in pain unnecessarily won't speed up your recovery. Work with your doctor on finding the right balance in both medication and activity. I think you should book an appointment with your surgeon ASAP because you sound really unsure of what you need to be doing. The surgeon is supposed to make these things clear. It is difficult, especially with exercise to find a level that will help your recovery without aggravating pain and setting you back. A referral to PT/rehab may help this if you are struggling with it.
  • Don't be in a hurry to get off the meds especially when you're still in pain, which is normal. 4.5 weeks out is very early days and it usually takes about 6 months to fuse. Small amounts of walking throughout the day is good, but don't overdo it until you're stronger. My surgeon didn't tell me anything I needed to know about recovery, it was people on this forum who helped me out. Have you read Ron's "sticky" at the top of the page on How Long Will it Take - lots of good advice.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I responded to your email message regarding gabapentin, but there were lots of posts and mail lost because of the most recent issues on the website. I hope you saw my message before you talked to the nurse.

    What did you decide to do?
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • Don't know if I can add much, but possibly. With some past experiences with my operations I pay STRICT attention to my doctor's orders. I'm sure you're aware of no bending, lifting, or twisting (BLT), ya gotta do this or trouble will be knocking on your door with a vengeance. In addition, I have also learned that although I can wean myself off of my medications, I will never do that again, it caused visits to the ER and out of service for many months. So, long story short, do EXACTLY what your doc tells you otherwise - the knock will come. I'm a 1/2 marathoner and can't wait to run again, but believe you me, I WILL NOT do any running until 1 year passes. I WILL come back, because I AM following my doc's orders this time. Sorry for the rant, but thought I would share with you my thoughts.
  • Did you have the trufuse.com m done to you?
  • Hi. I am exactly six weeks post TLIF for L4/L5 and. L5/S1. First of all I can only repeat what everybody ekes says and I know is true .. Very early days. Secondly, insist on reviewing pain meds. Take what they tell you .. And It can help to keep a diary of what you take, what time and your pain level out of ten when you take it. It is probably too soon to see any obvious pattern ... Even now at six weeks though I have finally reduced the OxyContin from 10 mg to 5mg twice a day, there are still some days where I need the 10mg and cannot work out why. You don't say what dose of hydro odour you are on ... Talk to your doctor Today I have woken up feeling exhausted ... Not really sure why, you just have to accept days can be good or less good. I still take a nerve painkiller amitryptyline at night ... Which I was on pre op and my surgeon says this will likely be the last to go, many months ahead. I am taking diazepam 2mg, 3 times a day. I swear this helps me to rest after lunch every day and my body obviously needs the rest as it is a very small dose but I do actually sleep up to around 90 minutes. I am crashed out by 10 at night .... I found once I gave up mentally fighting I was actually less miserable. This is a long recovery and the restrictions are difficult, but DO NOT bend, lift and twist and wear your corset however much you hate it as it is there to restrict you. I am learning the hard way as we all do .... Getting in and out of cars can set up a pain spiral, walking too far ... Better several short walks than one long one, in my case I have learned that having my grandchildren sit on my lap is as much of a strain as though I had lifted them ...
    Having said all that ... I AM improving ... Having a coffee out can be a good treat without doing too much .... But keep a pillow with you as all the chairs in different places can be a problem if you don't have support for your back. And I learned the hard way on car seats .. When somebody offers to take you out, if you strain too much to get up in the car, say politely, sorry, I cannot manage to go out after all, let's stay home.
    Wishing you luck, but get the meds sorted and mostly sounds like you need a nerve painkiller as all the others will not deal with nerve pain.
  • is an awful lot of percocet, even in the immediate post op period......I assume that you were taking two every 4 hours around the clock before the switch to hydrocodone.....even 7-8 is a lot during the day, since that would mean that you are taking them around every 3 hours, and that is too much......what does the dosage on the bottle say?
    It is important that you follow the dosing directions exactly as they are given on the bottle and do not exceed the dosage. There are many other means to manage an increase in pain, stretching some, changing position, the use of ice or heat, which ever helps the most to ease the muscular pain , walking in shorter spurts, several times a day, and resting, all need to be part of your overall pain management needs at this point. Most surgeons only continue pain medications for a short time after surgery, before expecting that their patient is either off them or they are referred to see a pain management doctor for further treatment.
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