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New Here and Surgery Recovery Question

Hi! I am 35 years old and today marks 5 weeks and 2 days since my microdiscectomy/laminectomy on my L5/s1 disc. I was in extreme, unable to even sit upright pain before the surgery and immediately afterwards, the pain was completely gone. I had what I would consider to be an excellent experience recovering from the surgery, with very minimal pain (nothing compared to what I had been experiencing prior to surgery) and my incision has healed beautifully.

Up until about two days ago, I had not experienced any real pain since the surgery, but I am wondering if I have either over-done it or re-herniated the disc. (The prior herniation was, to quote the neurosurgeon, "Massive" and almost completely compressing the nerve root.) I have been very good about not lifting anything over 20 lbs (usually not even close), have tried very hard not to twist or bend and have tried not to overdo it, but I have done quite a bit of walking/standing over the last two weeks. The problem is, I feel fine, until I don't. It is usually the next day before I know I might have done too much.

Normally, if I had any tingling/numbness, I took it as my sign to slow down and that had been working for me. This time, though, I have nerve pain like before the surgery running down my left hip/buttock/back of my thigh that burns if I stand/walk and is relieved by sitting. Since it is almost exactly like what I experienced before surgery, I am understandably rather afraid I've re-injured myself (especially since I don't know how I injured my disc in the first place).

My question is, does this sound like classic over-doing it 5 weeks later or is this something to be more concerned about? I will call my surgeon's office tomorrow morning either way to check, but I guess I could use some "been there...done that" reassurance in the meantime.

Thanks for any advice!
Christina
Christina
Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
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Comments

  • Hi Christina,

    My spinal fusion was 4 weeks ago and I am still having intermittent nerve pain as well. The pain for me was WAY worse than before my surgery so I was concerned too. My doctor told me that it is completely normal to be experiencing this kind of pain as the nerves are still adjusting to the major surgery you just had and the fact that they have been "disrupted". My pain was behind my knee as well as in my calf. I found that alternating between icing the pain as well as massaging icy hot onto it helped a lot. Of course, if it continues to bother you you can also ask your doctor to prescribe a nerve pain medication. Hang in there, the pain will get better! I was in constant fear that I had done something wrong too, but it has gradually gotten better! :)

    Rachael
  • Coltsfan78CColtsfan78 Posts: 182
    edited 07/07/2014 - 5:01 AM
    Rachael86 said:
    Hi Christina,

    My spinal fusion was 4 weeks ago and I am still having intermittent nerve pain as well. The pain for me was WAY worse than before my surgery so I was concerned too. My doctor told me that it is completely normal to be experiencing this kind of pain as the nerves are still adjusting to the major surgery you just had and the fact that they have been "disrupted". My pain was behind my knee as well as in my calf. I found that alternating between icing the pain as well as massaging icy hot onto it helped a lot. Of course, if it continues to bother you you can also ask your doctor to prescribe a nerve pain medication. Hang in there, the pain will get better! I was in constant fear that I had done something wrong too, but it has gradually gotten better! :)

    Rachael

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I did call the surgeon's office this morning and am waiting for a response. I think I'm really scared because I had zero pain until now and all of a sudden it's pretty intense again and I never want to be as incapacitated as I was prior to the surgery. I'm trying to stay calm, but it's hard. It helps to hear that others have had similar experiences. I hope you continue to heal perfectly and get better each day!

    Christina
    Christina
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • I called the Surgeon's office and they called in a 6 day pack of oral steroids. I'm on day two today. I've been having trouble sleeping because my left hip/buttock/upper back thigh have been so painful. However, I do feel like maybe it's a little better today.

    I'm torn because I'm scared of overdoing it but I know too much sitting isn't good either. Trying to find a good balance is hard because I have young kids and things have to get done. I just hope and pray that the steroids address the problem completely and I can go back to being pain-free.
    Christina
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • Hi All,
    I just had microdiscectomy, hemilaminectomy and foraminotomy l4/5, l5/s1 on June 24, 2014. My surgeon was extremely optimistic and made it sound like I'd be able to return to my prior activity level rather quickly. Prior to surgery, I weight trained 4-5 times/week with a personal trainer and enjoy running. I particularly enjoy distance running and ran my first half marathon in October 2013. I've also had ACDF with plating done in 2011. I guess I'm reading some of the forum and seeing that it takes much longer to get back into running and physical activity than I may have been lead to believe. Can anyone share with me a realistic time frame? It's only been two weeks and I'm getting a bit stir crazy already and want to get back to my exercise routine.

    Thanks!
  • The restrictions and activity limits are something that you really need to discuss with your surgeon. Most spine surgeries lead to not being able to run........in part, because of the impact of pavement and rough terrain on the spine.......too much jolting.
    The surgery is just one small part of the process of getting back on your feet.........now, is where your work begins, in sticking to those activity limits and restrictions until your surgeon clears you to resume doing things, and then it is a
    process of getting back into those activities.

    http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/practical-advice-recovering-back-surgery
    http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/rehabilitation-after-spine-surgery

    Too much, too soon often leads to complications and surgical failures.......the nerves, muscles, and the alignment and anatomy of your spine is changed, permanently , and now those tissues need time to recover, and heal, and that can take many weeks ......scar tissue needs to form, and the disc needs time to heal.
  • Back surgery has varied recovery patterns. From what you wrote, there is no way to know if your new pain is part of your recovery process or something else going on. I had pain revisit me awhile after my surgery, go away, return, and go away again. Your body is healing itself. Could it be something else? Sure, that is why you need to work with your doctor. Your doctor best knows your case. You need patience and to work and follow your doctor's advice. What you are experiencing could be part of a normal recovery process, but no to know from what you have written for sure.
  • JIMOFVIRGINIA said:
    Back surgery has varied recovery patterns. From what you wrote, there is no way to know if your new pain is part of your recovery process or something else going on. I had pain revisit me awhile after my surgery, go away, return, and go away again. Your body is healing itself. Could it be something else? Sure, that is why you need to work with your doctor. Your doctor best knows your case. You need patience and to work and follow your doctor's advice. What you are experiencing could be part of a normal recovery process, but no to know from what you have written for sure.
    Thanks. I am working with my doctor and half-way through the steroid pack he prescribed. I don't know if it is helping or not. I'm still having some trouble sleeping at night from the discomfort in my hip/buttock, but overall the pain, while similar and very likely nerve pain, is not anywhere near as severe as pre-surgery and does not seem to get worse with walking, so hopefully it is "healing pain". I'm willing to be patient..no problem with that at all, I was just surprised to have sudden new onset of pain after being completely pain-free for weeks. But hopefully this is just part of the healing process.

    Christina
    Christina
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • staceyt said:
    Hi All,
    I just had microdiscectomy, hemilaminectomy and foraminotomy l4/5, l5/s1 on June 24, 2014. My surgeon was extremely optimistic and made it sound like I'd be able to return to my prior activity level rather quickly. Prior to surgery, I weight trained 4-5 times/week with a personal trainer and enjoy running. I particularly enjoy distance running and ran my first half marathon in October 2013. I've also had ACDF with plating done in 2011. I guess I'm reading some of the forum and seeing that it takes much longer to get back into running and physical activity than I may have been lead to believe. Can anyone share with me a realistic time frame? It's only been two weeks and I'm getting a bit stir crazy already and want to get back to my exercise routine.

    Thanks!
    Stacey,

    Thanks for responding. I wish I had a good answer for you, but I think the moderators response is much more knowledgeable than mine would be at this point. I do know that I have read that running is not recommended post herniation surgery, but it's definitely a question best suited to your doctor. I hope you continue to heal and feel better!

    Christina
    Christina
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
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