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Walking after bilateral laminectomy & discectomy L4-5

BevieBBevie Posts: 3
edited 08/13/2014 - 3:06 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am 2 weeks and 2 days post op. Preoperatively, I had considerable pain and neuro deficits ( foot drop on left) and was using a cane, I was scheduled for surgery 6 days ago but it was moved up and done as an emergency because of a precipitous increase in weakness. I am ( was) very fit and active, had done a triathlon in early June. I had a pre-existing stenosis at L4-5 that did not really bother me, but for some reason I herniated a disc on both sides of L 4-5 creating a circumferential compression in late June. My surgeon does not believe in using either a cane or walker post op. I am trying to walk a little every hour and do stairs at least once a day, but without a cane I am very hunched over. After taking about 10 steps I start to get burning in my hips and pain and weakness in my legs and I have to lay down immediately to relieve the pain, after 5 minutes or so I have recovered and can try again. I called the surgeon's office yesterday because my inability to walk does not seem normal, the nurse told me to keep walking and perhaps someone could drive me to a shopping mall and I could walk there. I can barely make it to my bathroom and back hunched over, and then I have to lay down because the pain is incapacitating. I was thinking that perhaps steroids would be a more viable option. I had been told I could return to work 2 weeks post op, I went in using a walker but found after sitting for 4 hours even with standing breaks it was was unbearable. I could not finish the day, and felt like I took a step backward in my recovery. I am now supposed to return to work in 6 days and my ability to walk has not improved, I don't see the surgeon for 12 days, and cannot start PT until I am 6 weeks post op. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions to help me walk, I am taking Norco and alternating with Alleve, I believe they want me off the Norco ASAP. I am also taking a muscle relaxant to help with the night spasms. Thanks, Bevie


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Spiny_MaloneSSpiny_Malone Posts: 225
    edited 08/13/2014 - 5:29 PM
    It's hard to drag around a foot that's dropped. I think it's too soon to be going back to work if you don't have to. Get 8 hours of sleep as your body needs rest. Keep working leftie and teach it a lesson! (gentle lessons). I found video helped me to see the progress thusfar. I'm in my 4th week of recovery. It's a slow road but it can be done!

    I'm not sure how you're supposed to walk unassisted. Was an AFO suggested? I graduated from Walker to Cane so I could be upright and be outside getting better.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 08/21/2014 - 6:58 AM
    If your symptoms continue, I would suggest that you call your surgeon's office for an earlier appointment. The first month post op is the worst, but it is also possible that something else may be going on and you need to be evaluated.
  • Coltsfan78CColtsfan78 Posts: 182
    edited 08/21/2014 - 3:32 PM
    I'm no expert, although after this summer, I'm getting quite an education, but that just doesn't sound right.

    I walked like you are describing BEFORE the discectomy /laminectomy in May. Immediately afterward all that pain was gone.

    Of course, I reherniated within 5 weeks and have now had a second microdiscectomy. This one has been more painful and I'm having trouble feeling my left foot properly, but I am not all hunched over.

    I would get an appt. with the neurosurgeon and try to make sure that nothing else is going on.
    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
  • You had a second discectomy. I'm so sorry. I hope you are on the mend!
  • I continued to have difficulty walking and severe pain for 4 weeks after surgery. My surgeon had gone on vacation after my surgery so I was communicating via his nurse who continued to tell me to try to walk and my pain was to be expected, she told me to use the heating pad for spasms. I tried to move my post operative visit appointment up or see one of his associates to no avail. When I finally saw my surgeon for my first post operative visit at 4 weeks he was shocked and concerned about my ataxic and spasmotic gait. He believed I had an underlying central nervous system problem. He ordered a c-spine and brain MRI. I asked for steroids as the pain was unbearable as were the leg spasms particularly at night. He said he did not want to start them until after the MRI because they would mask symptoms. The first MRI I could schedule was in 5 days. I knew early on that something was wrong in my recovery I could not walk more than a few steps and the pain was horrible, at one point I ran out of pain meds and the nurse told me I should not be needing them. Two days after my first post operative visit with the surgeon I woke up unable to walk without staggering and the pain was debilitating. Out of desperation I went to the emergency department. They rescanned me, started me on steroids, meds to control the spasms and pain. Within 30 hours I was a new person. I could walk with my cane and the pain was manageable. They kept me in the hospital for 3 days. I should have gone to the ED 2 weeks prior. I feel like I spent an entire month in Hell unnecessarily. I should have listened to my body and not the nurse. I now likely have permanent nerve damage from the extended period of nerve compression, they are not sure if I will ever walk unassisted. I was an active person before the bilateral laminectomy. The surgeon still believes I may have an underlying CNS condition and they are continuing testing. I have been home from the hospital now for 2 days I can walk and be literally pain free, I feel better every day. If I had waited longer the damage may have been worse. I hope this comment can help others who may not be getting the right advice from health care providers.
  • edited 09/09/2014 - 12:52 PM
    I am 33 days post op (August 1) and had fusions of L5-S1, L4-L5, L3-L4, plus laminectomy's and more. I ice my 21 cm incision three times a day, especially just before bedtime for 15-20 minutes each time. Wear an undershirt and boxers to fervent burning your skin. I only take Soma at night and Naproxen 550 mg for pain in the morning. Get a Pee bottle like you had in the hospital and put it on the nightstand so you don't have to get up and stagger to the bathroom. Ask your doctor to order you an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis), a device hidden under your socks to alleviate "drop foot". Or order one from the Internet (range in price from $33 to $194). The AFO strengthens your ankle and foot. I use a walker when I know I have to climb curbs. Otherwise, I use a cane. Every surgeon has pain management personnel, who I call for prescription refills and questions regularly. Some surgeries take weeks and months to take affect. Hang in there.
  • I had my surgery three weeks ago. My nerves had been severely compressed bilaterally for a really long time. I also have ankylosing spondylitis and though I had extreme pain sitting and the nerve pain in both my legs made me want to hack them off, I was continued on biologics and given pain medicine. I had a large central herniation L4-5, and smaller central L5-S1. my symptoms were blamed on AS completely. My daughter couldn't stand watching my pain and made an appt. with a surgeon for me and he said I needed surgery and I had it - open discectomy, laminectomy L4-5 - he said the nerves were severely compressed and it was much worse than the two MRIs showed. He doesn't do pain meds past two weeks so I've had to go to my pain medicine MD for meds. But a week post op the surgeon put me on steroids to try to reduce the inflammation - it helped for about a week. My instructions are no sitting, no lifting over 5 lbs, no bending, no twisting for six weeks. Sitting in a recliner, walking, laying and letting the disc heal is encouraged. Three weeks out my pain standing and "reclining" is a 5/10 on pain meds and ice. How are you now?
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