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After 6 months of crippling back pain, I had a spinal decompression. 4 months later and I'm in more

JLF1966JJLF1966 Posts: 36
edited 12/26/2014 - 9:04 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm a 6'2", 155 pound, 28 year old male.

Apparently my nerve in the L5-S1 region was totally crunched. I had minimally invasive surgery to relieve the pressure via a neurosurgeon. My diagnosis was for surgery for left L5-S1 radiculopathy and I had a left L5-S1 laminectomy with medial, L5-S1 facetectomy & decompression of S1 nerve root. No discectomy or fusions. My doctors said I should never play sports again and that a fusion is likely in my future.

The pain is still out of control. I am 4 months post op now and spent most of it doing PT for hours a day. This was supposed to be a 1-3 month recovery. I cannot concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes before pain takes over. I've seen lots of doctors and the advice isn't really great -- everyone suggests I avoid a fusion and they do not want to perform it. No drugs work. TENS machine gives me very temporary relief. I don't know any other options. Any advice on what to do going forward would be great -- sports were my social life so I am losing my mind not being able to work out or do anything.

MRI pre-surgery:
MRI albums post surgery (injected with contrast halfway through, 2 albums):


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 12/26/2014 - 9:04 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • nerve healing, the recovery from nerve pain can take weeks and months post op, especially when there was compression /impingement of the herves prior to surgery. Patience , and time are your best options. There are some medications commonly used to treat neuropathic pain that you can discuss with your doctors about possibly trying.
    We can't comment on your images, but what has the surgeon recommended other than surgery?
  • I'm on Gabopentin and took Lyrica for nerve pain but nothing helped. I've done 3 epidurals now and none have helped. The doctor I saw yesterday told me that the evidence points towards them possibly doing the wrong surgery then and the nerve root wasn't the problem but that it's likely a disk issue which is why I'm getting a discogram (very scared for that).

    Every surgeon I've seen has said I'm way too young for a fusion and that the likelihood of it helping would be around 50%. They all basically tell me what not to do but no one really knows the answer.
  • especially after there was significant injury to the nerve. It also may never recover. It really depends on how the nerve was injured and how long it was that way prior to the compression being released.
    That being said, jumping back into surgery, this early into your recovery, without knowing whether or not the nerve or a disc is the issue can result in far more pain and ongoing problems down the road.
    If I were you, I would be very, very sure before considering another surgery.
    As far as nerve pain medications go, there are many options to treat nerve pain, and many of them require dosage adjustments to get to the correct dosage to manage the pain........Lyrica has a dosage range of 25 mg-600 mg per day, and gabapentin has a range of 100 mg -3600 mg per day.......so if you haven't had dosage increasings to find the correct dosage for you, you won't reap the benefit of the medications.
  • I guess I'm just not sure if it's nerve pain at this point -- I don't have the leg pain but the back pain is insane. They said if it's nerve pain, I'd likely be having massive leg pain. I guess I should get the EMG to be sure.
  • YEah spinal decompression did not work for me. Its pretty much the same as doing inversion therapy.
  • JLF1966JJLF1966 Posts: 36
    edited 12/30/2014 - 4:28 AM
    Getting an EMG tomorrow. Scared XXXXX but hope it gives me answers.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 12/30/2014 - 4:34 AM
    I hope you get some answers as well. Are you doing physical therapy? Aqua therapy? Walking as much as possible to rebuild your strength and stamina? Have you tried a TENS unit to see if that helps?
  • 14 weeks of PT post surgery, 8 weeks PT prior to surgery, walk an hour a day, personal TENS machine. I've tried epidural injections and chiro as well. I monitor every calorie that goes into my body and maintain about a 19 BMI and 10% BF. Pain has been getting worse as of late and I am running out of ideas.
  • mskathymmskathy Posts: 26
    edited 12/30/2014 - 8:05 PM
    Hi, your recovery is very new. I think Drs are nuts when they say minimally invasive, few weeks and you are good to go! You may be dealing with a lot of nerve damage. I found a pain manager after surgery, and we tried a bag full of meds I couldn't tolerate. Eventually we found a combination of meds which give me relief. A year and 1/2 later, I'm better and can make it thru my work day....but I'm not great and I'm limited to what I can do. I still need a lot of rest after working and performing normal tasks. I'm too young to be in this bad of shape. You are much younger, I'm hoping you heal completely. As mentioned above, be very careful about another surgery.

    Hang in there, it will get better in time. Keep up you PT, and be diligent about finding the right meds. There are also pain patches such as Lidocaine, and topical anti-inflamatories which you may want to ask your Dr about....temporary relief, but they help get you thru your day.

    Good Luck, and hang in there!
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