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Microdisectomy FRUSTRATION!

dmkddmk Posts: 1
edited 10/05/2014 - 8:56 PM in Recovering from Surgery
hello- im new here and read a few postings and did not find much comfort. i am six days post op from a microdisectomy L4-5 on the left side. my story begins that i have had this bulge for many years and over the last two years i would have pain but it always went away after five weeks. well five months ago i worked three weeks straight at my desk job and my pain came back and never went away. i went to three different back doctors who just dismissed me or my pain. i think they thought i was a drug seeker because my pcp gave me vicodin to sleep through the night. because i was honest up from with this they judged me. i had an mri back in feb and one back doctor told me that wasnt causing my pain. really? i could not walk straight and had tears in my eyes. i left there crying. i tried two other doctors who really just dismissed me and said they couldnt do anything. one day i ended up in the er. i couldnt walk they had to bring me in on a stretcher. when i got there they gave me a shot that barely took the pain away and discharged me 45 minutes later, barely being able to walk out. i asked for a referral to specialist and they told me i didnt need one. so upset i started to think this was all in my head. i made an appointment with a spinal surgeon and wrote him this long letter of all that had happened and if he couldnt help me send my to someone who could. he ordered another mri. this was five months after my first. i had a huge bulging disc. we tried injections and did not work. then he offered a microdisectomy. i had this done last Monday. my surgeon assured me this would take away the pain in my butt, side butt, calf and ankle. day three post op i am in terrible pain in the same area. not even at the surgical site. my doctor prescribed more oxycodone 5mg 2-3 every four hours. this barely took away the pain. by friday i couldnt take the pain any longer and he prescribed me the steroid pack. come saturday i thought it actually started to work. it seemed the pain was bearable and i was down to 1 oxy every 5 hours. now its sunday. i have had the butt and leg ache all day. i am back up to 2-3 oxy every 4 hours again. i can barely walk. i am supposed to go back to work tomorrow and there is no way i can do that. i am so frustrated and thought this was suppose to work. i know that i have read give it time. but i am exactly in the same boat as before the surgery. when will the relief come? i also think that the vicodin that i was taking before the surgery would work better. does anyone have any experience with what medication works best? i dont want to get hooked on this oxy. i am going to my pcp tomorrow to talk about this since she was the one who medicated me before the surgery. does this surgery even work for anyone? help am feeling so discouraged!!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 10/05/2014 - 8:56 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hey DMK, any type of surgery produces swelling and I found that it took a while for my pain to settle down. I'm no Dr but from what I understand it would be a little early to say it was a failed surgery and as your Dr prescribed you the steroid pack they are recognising that your pain is real. I found meditation really helped but that was mainly when you're waiting for the meds to kick in. The most important time after the surgery is the first six weeks. While you need to keep moving you also need plenty of rest, especially lying down so you take pressure off the damaged area. Keep your chin up and I'm sure you will get through this rough patch.
    Aussie Aussie Aussie
    PLIF l5-S1 L4L5 herniation, incomplete paraplegia
    edited 10/06/2014 - 2:17 AM
    That is an interesting question since it hits at the question as to what is the definition of success or a failed surgery. I am not sure that it is like a light switch that is either failed or successful. In your case it looks like a doctor saw an issue that was collaborated between the symptoms that you expressed and the MRI. From there a treatment plan was put into place that included surgery. That surgery did something. In addition to the short-term swelling and other surgery generated issues, hopefully it did something good that is longer lasting. Since your surgery is relatively recent, it is difficult to know how much of your pain can be attributed to the short term impacts of the surgery or something that was missed on the original treatment plan or some other related issue. As far as pain management, that is difficult too. I like you do not want to stay on oxy any longer than I have to. For my lumbar surgery, I switched from Oxy back to tramadol. For my more recent neck surgery, I am still taking some Oxy. These approaches worked for me. I doubt they will work for you since it sounds like you have a different pain profile that what I have or had.
    There are a wide set of pain treatments available to patients. Unfortunately, I think the hardest part of dealing with some of these issues is having the patience to keep putting up with pain why other things hopefully heal, and than the not-knowing and fear that we all have to some extent about did this procedure actually work. While all of this is going on, we still have our normal lives, sometimes placed on hold, sometimes negatively impacted by our inabilities to function in a normal way.
    For some their jobs are negatively impacted, for others, it is their relationships and in many cases both. It is easy for others to accuse us of being dope addicts or worse. Our situation is made worse since there are dope addicts that pretend to have issues like we actually suffer increasing the distrust others have of anyone who complains of pain.
    I don't have any silver bullets for you that can make things well. All I can do is tell you that you are not alone in your suffering, there are others of us out there whom have suffered too. You need to have patience and work with your medical team. If your medical team is not doing the job, you can fire them and hire someone else. If you want to change your medical team, just make sure that you have a logical and solid reason for doing so. You don't want to be the one whom only shoots the messenger.

    Good luck and I wish you well.
  • and surgery isn't an instant "cure". It doesn't magically heal the nerve compression, all it does it relieve it......the nerve is angry and inflammed, both from the compression prior to surgery and the surgery itself to relieve the compression.
    Opiates don't treat nerve pain.........that needs to be treated with the use of nerve pain medications if they are necessary. Typically nerve pain will flare up post op for a few days, to a few weeks, or in some cases, months. Gabapentin, or Lyrica, cymbalta and a few other medications in similar classes are used to treat ongoing nerve pain.
    Ice is your best friend, at the moment, to help ease the swelling in the area post op, walking as tolerated, and resting. Not sitting or laying or standing too long, usually 15 minutes or so unless in bed for sleeping.
    You need to allow one doctor to treat your post op pain, and that should be your surgeon. Going to your primary is confusing the issue. Anti inflammatory medications might be helpful as well, but if I were you, I would call the surgeon and ask about a possible prescription for a nerve pain medication......and an anti inflammatory.
  • Philip SmithPPhilip Smith Posts: 7
    edited 10/06/2014 - 1:13 PM
    I agree wholeheartedly with Sandi. I'm seven years down the track after my first surgery and further complications has given me a much greater understanding of what my body has to deal with. No one can give a definitive answer as to how much pain, discomfort etc anyone can tolerate and only through time will you be able to look back and agree or disagree. I found opioids a waste of time long term as yes they don't treat nerve pain. But what they were good for was break through pain in the initial fazes of recovery. I also found hydro therapy, mainly just walking in the water, a huge benefit. You can lessen the weight on your spine by walking in deeper water as buoyancy is increased. Get a recommendation from your surgeon before you do any exercise though as it might be counter intuitive. Once you get used to how your body has changed then you will be able to slowly integrate more moderate exercise. I can understand your frustrations and it is only temporary I hope.
    Aussie Aussie Aussie
    PLIF l5-S1 L4L5 herniation, incomplete paraplegia
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