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7 weeks PO from Decompression still have nerve pain :( please help!


I've posted before and truly appreciate it when other members take the time to reply!

I'm seven weeks PO from an L3/4/5 decompression for forminal stenosis and a not so severe hen inaction at L5.

I'm still having sciatic pain in my thighs when I sit down (not all the time but after 15 mins it's a sure bet) I get in the car, and when I lie down I often get a numb behind. In addition I'm having so odd sensations in my lower legs I did not have before surgery. At night my calves are sore too. My incision still has swelling but nothing crazy.

I've been walking daily and just recently started PT and have been able to ride my bike on short trips around.

My surgeon, rehab md and PT all keep saying to give it time but frankly I'm scared as hell. The surgeon said my nerves were completely flat, red and inflamed. My rehab md said nine months at least. My PT said I'm over doing it and not letting myself heal.

Are they just telling me what I want to hear or does it really take time to heal? My anxiety is off the charts :(

I'm 43 now and have been very active my adult life. If I can't return to marathon running I'll be ok with that if I can just go back to some sort of sport/exercise. It was a huge part of my life. I feel useless and weak. I'm so depressed. Sigh....

I'd appreciate any help or advice you guys have.

Many thanks!


  • LC84LLC84 Posts: 599
    edited 04/10/2014 - 3:34 PM
    Just saw your post, I sent you a PM. You could be having some muscle pain too from all the activity. You know I believe that nerves can take a long time to heal. What does your surgeon say about your activity level? You don't want to push too soon and have setbacks.

    Keep your head up! I'm still sending thoughts and prayers your way.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • MaximummyMMaximummy Posts: 77
    edited 04/10/2014 - 10:20 PM
    Hi .. We have 'met' before on the forum. I am 7 weeks post op today ... Two level fusion and also a facet joint removed, cyst removed, nerves decompressed etc ..... I also am getting more sciatica than a few weeks ago also sore cal sea and this week have had quite a few really 'off' days ... All very demoralising and I swing between thinking " what have I done?" and just accepting that this is all part and parcel of the long healing process I was told about but did not understand before.'
    I'm trying to walk every day ... Slowly and with my dog, so I stop/start but I still cannot go far. I also find getting in and out of cars aggravates pain and soreness and also now take a pillow out with me to sit on or put behind my back to support me ... Every cafe has a different chair ... None made with fusion patients in mind! Perhaps you have increased your pt and bike riding too early? I understand the frustration, but for now perhaps you could just up the walking?
    I know I have made progress ... Have reduced the OxyContin from 10mg twice a day to 5mg twice a day, but still need diazepam and amitryptyline for the nerve pain. I am pleased with that but then get depressed at the up/down of it all ... So I suppose we both need. Good dose of PATIENCE!!!! Good luck ... I keep a pain/meds which helps keep track. I also suspect that all the little movements we make during the day ... No real BLT stuff, just small movements, add up and occasionally I try to analyze whatitisi am doing and remind myself I should be even more careful ... We women have so much to do and find it hard to stop wiping around counters, tidying up etc .... Lethal!
    Keep your chin up and let me know how you are ..

  • sciaticjenn said:

    Are they just telling me what I want to hear or does it really take time to heal? My anxiety is off the charts :(

    It really DOES take time to heal, unfortunately. If your nerves were flattened as badly as your surgeon says they were, you've still got a lot of healing to do. I'm at 14 weeks post-op and am starting to feel more "normal". Listen to your doctors and don't overdo it. Don't get ahead of yourself. Rest and relaxation can do wonders. As for getting in and out of the car, I have a trash bag on my seat that helps me slide in and out easier.

    You say you've "been very active my adult life", so I'm sure it's hard to you to take it easy, but just slow down, take it easy and it will get better. It might not be at 3 months and it might not be at 6 months, but I'm sure you'll be seeing some progress soon. Remember, you've had a major surgery. Allow yourself to heal without trying to push it.

    Wishing you all the best!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • I thank you for all the replies. Your kindness is very much appreciated.
    I don't know what I'd do without this board.
    The personal stories and support help so much.
    I wish I knew when I could expect some progress. The waiting and worrying is torture. I truly expected to be free from the sciatic pain by now. I guess I just had unrealistic expectations?

  • Hi - hope you are feeling better today. Today I overdid it ... spring sunshine beckoned me this morning and I walked, very slowly, but too far. Came home and lay down with a small dose of diazepam for the pain going down the back of my right leg ... it will not go at the moment and has been bothering me all week. Then I had a few, very easy, bits of cooking to do which I did ... leaving the washing up and clearing up for my husband. Pain getting worse - another small painkiller and crashed out sleeping for 75 minutes on the sofa with my various pillows and cushions to give me support, heating pad on ...
    A bit better. It is really hard to do NOTHING and very hard to live with the after effects of doing just a few small things.
    Tomorrow is another day ..... and it is!
  • Thanks for checking in on me Maximummy! I wish I could find a way to be
    optimistic about this. I swear my own negative energy is hurting my recovery. I know it could be SO much
    worse than it is. I have to try and find the positive in this recovery process.

    If anyone out there has been down this road and was successful I'd sure like to hear from you!
  • Sorry. Hit send too soon before I could ask how you are today !
  • Hi ... Sorry not on the site for a few days. Like you I feel a bit stuck ... Cannot seem to jump mentally to a positive frame of mind and fed up with having one reasonable day which I pay for for two or three days before I can have another 'good' day.
    So ... My advice is ... And it is easy to say to others rather than follow it yourself! I have had a difficult week or so ... Nerve pain down my leg, sciatica, which feels just he same as pre-op. However, the really awful pain in the immediate surgical area of my back has definitely improved. My right knee which needs a replacement has been awful and I had 30mls fluid drawn off last night .. Third time since January .. I dread it bring done as it is annum pleasant procedure and I had a bad night because it was aching and irritated.. So that is demoralising as I know it will come back and now the rheumatologist is saying I probably should think about dealing with it when I am about six months of from this ... I can't stand the thought of another op and all the recuperation. Then ... The better things I a trying to hang on to I order to feel more positive ... And for you! I am looking out, the sun is shining and I have a truly beautiful Magnolia tree in full bloom in the garden. Just as I was writing this I stopped for a while because my son rang for a chat .. He always makes me cheer up and I adore him. First thing my daughter rang me ... Last Monday night I went out to her for dinner, my very first evening out as usually I am really tired by sixish and have a pain dip. I forced myself and as a result I also agreed to go to friends for an early, easy dinner this Saturday night. I can sit the way I want and leave at 9 if I am tired.

    I see my home doctor this afternoon for my two weekly meds. Review .. So perhaps there will be some encouraging help there.I need to know if I should push through any pain and tiredness to walk more ... On Monday of last week I did a bit too much and set off another downturn.

    We made a final decision to cancel our upcoming holiday ... Door to door would have been a nine hour day of travelling. I know it would set me back but what is the point in that and spending hard earned money to lie in bed on a holiday? So life feels very small, boring and hard to see progress.
    I think the mental fight of this long recuperation is a very difficult challenge and very hard for other people to understand ... So keep using the forum so we can support eachother ... Recovery will come .... Others do it and so will we! We are women and we are very strong. Write me again if you want ... I am not likely to be out skydiving!
  • At 5 weeks out, I think we can all encourage each other to be patient. Those of us that were very active before, make the worst patients... always trying to push it!! Like I said, I try to put in a good walking session (so darn boring to me) every day, but then wind up spending a lot of time on the couch, with my legs up, and a heating pad under me.... feel like such a veg... but realize that the body NEEDS TO HEAL :) So, I also have the sciatic pain in my left leg (even when lying down... constant), some of you have said that Lorazipam helps with that? How does that work? Maybe I should look into it.
    Have a wonderful Easter everyone... heal, heal, heal :))!!
    Melanie E. Feilzer
  • Lorazepam ... I was given Diazepam. Basically, they act as a sedative and muscle relaxant. For the nerve pain down the legs I have been on Amitryptyline for years ... No dude effects and a safe drug which helps with the nerve pain spasm. The diazepam is great but can be addictive so you don't want it for longer than necessary.
    I live my heating pad too ... A simple and vy effective comfort.
    I also find the walking a bore ... But actually bring uptight is good and I am told walking is really good in promoting the healing inside and lying and sitting too much I grind just as boring and more strain, especially sitting. I am now 8 weeks post op and there are badly designed chairs everywhere I go ... I take a full size squashy old pillow with me in a carrier bag ... Coffe shops, car, friends etc as I need support as well as a surface I can bear to sit on.
    I still struggle mentally, but I have been able to reduce the meds quite a lot now and know I get tired and sore around six in the evening and need help then with a painkiller .. You begin to notice patterns emerging. Keep hoping ... Very early days gor both of us in terms of the total recovery time. I am aiming god six months now to see any significant progress ..
  • Hi, I am almost 5 weeks po from an l5s1 fusion. Are you totally off pain meds? I am still taking 5-6 Norco a day.i am also on neurontin for nerve pain. I was going to try to wean myself even more off pain meds but it still just hurts too much for that. Are you driving a lot yet? That seems to hurt too. I have a 6 week check up in a week and I really can't see myself back to teaching 4th graders all day yet. I feel so guilty.
  • MaximummyMMaximummy Posts: 77
    edited 04/24/2014 - 11:11 PM
    Hi ... Basically ... Now nine weeks post op two level fusion, decompression etc., etc ... Had a lot done. At five weeks I was still on a total of 20mg OxyContin daily, total 6mg diazepam for muscle tightness, 30 - 40mg amitryptyline for nerve pain. I cannot say what your doctor would tell you ... But pretty sure it is too early to expect to drastically reduce your meds. I see my family doctor every two weeks to go over my meds ... Found keeping a pain diary a good way of charting what I took what time and what pain levels out of 10 was ... This way you can show your doctor how you are doing. Worth it .. Just buy an extra pocket diary or keep a pad. At about 7 weeks my doc. suggested cutting down the OxyContin from 10mg slow release morning and night to 5mg twice ... At night no problem and since then have stopped the night one altogether . However ... In the morning still take the 5mg and now and then I get medium to bad pain break through depending on how active I have been and then take 1x10mg oxyNorm immediate release ... A wonder drug but one my surgeon would like me to be able to stop by 12 weeks.
    So at 9 weeks I am down from 20mg OxyContin per day to 5mg and no diazepam. Doing well there ....
    My advice is not to wean yourself off ... I realised after a while that the meds are there not just to get rid of pain but to stop pain BUILD UP! Take your meds as prescribed and the rule seems to be on time and often ...your doctor should help you with this ... Not really for you to make the decision.
    I only started driving this week .... Think if you can turn to look behind you ... I am still in a corset and you should not twist.
    Rear mirrors etc are a help but I did not feel up to driving because I knew I would get too tired walking around shops, sitting too long anywhere etc. I did drive to a lunch on Wednesday this week ... 20 minutes each way and a three hour lunch/meeting where I sat while, got up, sat, got up. I had a rotten day yesterday and today have woken up with nerve pain in my right calf ... Can only assume I did too much! So, another day ahead feeling stuck and a bit miserable ... This is very major surgery, long recovery where every day can be different and where a day where you moved around too much can still take two or three days to turn it around .... Very frustrating and demoralising! In terms of full recovery you are in the very earliest stages so you should not expect much of yourself ... Move around without the bending , don't lie in bed all day as lying in bed too much is no good, but you should make sure you rest properly as well as this is when your back can relax and begin healing .. At five weeks I was still going to bed for a couple of hours after lunch and then staying up as long as I could into the evening and bed time ...
    Good luck and let me know how you are doing ..
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