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4months PO Decompression - still in pain - looking for experieces! Please help:(

Hi all!

I have been a member for a while but have not posted in the last two months. I was trying to stay positive and not read too much into my lack of recovery :(

I am not just over 4 months PO from a minimally invasive decompression of L3/4/5. I had forminal stenosis and two bulged discs.

Sadly I have never appreciated pain relief following surgery. I still have most of the pre-surgery pain and some odd new stuff. To say I feel defeated is an understatement. At time I can honestly say I don't know if I can handle this. I had pinned so much hope on this surgery. I am 43 years old and prior to this disaster I was in incredible health and shape.

My pre surgery symptoms were numbness in my left big toe, sciatic pain in both legs, hips and groin, foot pain, calf pain ect, Riding or driving the car was the worst. Also when I would lie down by butt would go numb.

Now I still have the sciatic pain (mainly in my thighs), both of my feet will fall asleep when I am seated longer than 15 minutes, I still have occasional toe numbness, the front of my thighs and calves sometimes feels like it has sunburn on it, I get calf pains, when I am seated my butt goes numb, on occasion I get strange quick electric shock feelings in my legs, sometimes it feels like my legs are jittery (they don't move) I get odd pins and needles on occasion too. My leg muscles are also often tight. If I stand too long (like at a party) my legs feel so sore I could cry.

I had another MRI last month that showed "scarring and or granulation tissue extending into the neural foramina producing mild forminal stenosis" on L3/4/5
L3/4 broad bulge partial effacement of the thecal sac noted. L4/5 broad bulge and a shallow left posterolateral protrusion partially effacing the vental thecal sac.

I have the post op report and it says nothing about the discs bulges being touched when I had discussed that with the surgeon. I was under the impression he was going to treat those as well as the stenosis.

I had my surgery in Florida but am now back home in PA (we live in Florida for the winters) and I'm at a loss. My surgeon, who seemed great with you in the beginning, is not helping at all. I keep getting the secretary who told me that he said I reherniated and need a fusion. ???? I'm not sure how I could have reherniated when there is nothing in my post op report about disc's being touched and my surgery was for stenosis. She also blamed it on me saying I did too much after surgery. All I did was walk. No lifting ect, I did ride in the car after a few days.... but they never said not to do that!
Now they say don't walk? When all I heard was to stay mobile.
I did attend PT for a few weeks as well (again, at the direction of the DR). They said I need an injection. I tried that presurgery and it made my sciatic pain worse:( They say its now chemical ridiculopthy! Has anyone heard of this?

I've asked about the scar tissue to both the surgeon, PT and a rehab DR and have gotten several different answers. Not sure if that is the causes of the pain or not. Or could it still be the disc's and they missed it? Could the nerves still be healing (they were compressed about 15 months while I tried every non invasive treatment)?

I'm up for any input, stories of success ect. I'm so distressed. I feel like I will never have my life back again.

Sorry for the ramble. I'm not having a great day.

I appreciate everyone's time.


  • You didn't happen to go to one of those laser surgery centers , did you?
    Who are you seeing now, back in Pa, for treatment? Have you consulted with another surgeon at home? Scar tissue can play a role in ongoing pain post op, and it could also be that the nerves are recovering, and that can take months for you to see any improvement ....the thing is, there does seem to be some improvement, since the pain prior to surgery was to your feet and now seems to be primarily at your thighs.....however, it can take months to see where you are going to wind up.
    That being said, there are things that can be done to ease the neuropathic pain, gabapentin, lyrica, topamax, cymbalta and amitryptaline all are commonly used to treat neuropathic pain while you wait to see how the nerves are going to heal.........Injections may help to ease some of the discomfort and pain, as well as the inflammation in the surgical area as well. Physicial therapy or aqua therapy also might help.

  • sciaticjennssciaticjenn Posts: 36
    edited 06/29/2014 - 7:55 AM
    Thank you Sandi for the reply.

    No, thankfully I did not fall in the laser spine trap. I went to a board certified ortho spine surgeon who owns a busy spine center as well as a medical device co. He trains surgeons all over the country. I really felt confident in him. I saw three all together. One was a "concierge" spine surgeon that wanted $75,000 for the surgery. While I'm blessed to have the money if I needed it I was hesitant to spend it as I have excellent medical coverage. Two drs said the same surgery one said wait it out. I was having increasing foot issues and had lost the strength in my big toe and was losing the arch in that foot as well. And of course the sciatic pain.
    I have consulted with another surgeon here in PA. He reviewed the MRI and said it does not even look like they removed much of the lamina. I also went for an EMG on Thursday which was normal. The new DR wanted to see the pre-surgery MRI so I'm seeing him Tuesday with it and to go over the emg.
    At four months PO the nerves could still be healing? I guess I never thought I could still be healing so late in the game.
    The concierge spine surgeon said six weeks I would be good as new. Wish I never heard that :(
    Why don't they tell you this stuff at the DR's?
    I will check out the meds you mentioned. I never took anything after surgery ( I never took the pain meds) and now take 200mg of celebrex.
    I'm just not sure what the right thing to do is. Should I not exercise or should I? Should I ice or heat? This and many question seem so daunting as I don't want to make things worse.

    Thanks again for any input! I'm aware your not a DR and can't give medical info but your own experience is very helpful!
  • be recovering. The thing is, with nerve compression/impingment prior to surgery, then during surgery, muscles , tissues and the nerves are moved out of the way of the surgeon.......just touching the nerve during surgery can result in nerve pain...so you add those things together and you are going to experience nerve related pain post op.
    Nerves only regenerate at a rate of 1-2 mm per month. So depending on how much of the nerve was impinged, and how extensive it is, determines how long it takes to resolve. That doesn't mean that you won't see improvement over these next weeks and months, you will. You may wind up with numbness just disappearing, but more likely, it will be tingling, and then some pins and needles feeling and the areas involved will become smaller......you may not even notice it at first, but one day, when you go to do something that normally has set it off, you will find that it does no longer.
    The neuropathic medications can help to ease the pain in the meantime and when you don't need them anymore, you taper off them and stop.
    As far as ice and heat goes, it really depends on which one helps you more.....I prefer heat, but that's just me.
    Have you been released to physical therapy? If not, stick to taking short walks on a level surface, several times per day......it is better for you to do it that way, then to take one long walk and wind up causing more pain.....several shorter walks, help to build up your endurance and strengthen your legs and musles in the abdomen while you heal.
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