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5 days post-op L5-S1 disectomy: Issues

FirstcomesloveFFirstcomeslove Posts: 3
edited 10/19/2015 - 3:47 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hello everyone. I'm an active 37 year old woman with a 10 year history of periodic lower back pain. Basically over the last 10 years I've hurt my back 4 times (just during daily activities) and needed ibuprofen and 1-2 weeks of physio and a week of bed rest to get "unstuck" and get back to normal. In between those episodes if I got a sore back - mainly from sitting too long anywhere) I would just get massages and take it easy.

7 weeks ago after a day of playing a lot with my toddler I got a sore back, went to bed early and woke up unable to bend or walk without a lot of lower back pain. I went to my Orthopedic immediately and started 10 days of PT and 1200mg Ibuprofen. I felt 90% better after that.

4 days after completing PT I was pushing a stroller up a small hill, I noticed I had a some pain in my lower back AND buttocks and couldn't sit comfortably afterwards. In the car driving home my left leg from the buttock to the back of my thigh had extreme electric like pain and also like someone has kicked me deep in the left buttock. From then on - sitting was near possible as it was too painful. Standing, walking and certain laying positions also very painful - almost constantly. The mornings were worst but pain in left buttock down the back of my thigh was excruciating. Worst of all - a large part of my left buttock was just numb. For the first time I had Sciatica.

Back to my Orthoped on a Wednesday who said this was a a worsening of my previous issue - noted the numbness, sciatic pain and a weakening of reflexes in my left foot and some loss of feeling on my outer left thigh and numbness of left buttock and ordered an MRI (Thursday)which showed a 8mm herniated disk at L5-S1. He ordered me straight to the Neurosurgeon who saw me a few days later and scheduled an operation for 3 weeks later. He warned that if I didn't I may develop CES or dropfoot. He warned against PT as it may make it worse. Through the 3 weeks of waiting I couldn't sit without pain, walking too long or too fast hurt, I spent a lot of time laying down or standing, managing pain with 1800mgs of Ibuprofen per day and doing stretches to alleviate sciatic pain. No driving which has seriously diminished my life.

L5-S1 microdisectomy performed on 13 Oct and on 14 Oct I went for my first postop walk and I am painfree from my sciatic pain!!!

However, my left entire buttock, whole genital area and anal area were very numb as soon as I woke post-op. I couldn't urinate until 24 hours after surgery and once I did I had to "push" like crazy and it kind of just falls out of me - I can't feel it. There's a huge loss of sensation and control when I urinate and I feel as though my bladder has not emptied. BUT, I am not incontinent and have no pain. I had a BM with the help of a laxative on 17 Oct (4 days post op) and could feel it coming but not come out. From 14-17 Oct I complained like crazy to everyone - but they said "these things take time" and "the most important thing is you don't have pain".

I was overcome with anger and fear on the 17th and demanded they take it seriously. They sent me for a CT and it came back ok. They tested my anal sphincter (digit insertion) and I was able to push. They tested my urine for UTI infection - all clear. I left the hospital and am now home as they said there's nothing they can do for me.

It's 18 Oct and the numbness has shrunk in area and is now concentrated in the saddle area of the left buttock (but not thigh and not right side) and the outer left genital area (but not right). Bladder retention has no improvement - I kinda feel I have to go, sit there and it comes or it doesn't, I push and maybe a trickle will come or maybe a gush. Still feels like I'm not emptying fully. I also can not control flatulence which is horrifying. No more BM so far.

They have said no to another MRI to rule out Cauda Equina as the CT is OK and I am not incontinent. My surgeon told me that all this will likely improve in 6-12 weeks after the nerves and muscle have had time to repair after surgery with the help of PT.

Please - anyone - ideas??experiences?? What shall I do?

I would like another MRI to check for Cauda Equina at least. I am hopeless, depressed and scared.




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  • LizLiz Posts: 7,883
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Anyone had anything similar? Did bladder/bowel issues improve? What can I do? Scared and lost. Seeing surgeon tomorrow to take out stitches. He says "things will get back to normal, it takes time". He also said that this can't be anything directly to his surgery as he was not near those nerves.

    TMI but I can do kegels, squeeze my buttocks, push in the rectum area, but have urinary retention (hard to get going) and no sensation or control of it coming out. BM with laxative post op, could feel it coming but not it coming out.
  • I would tell them that I have bladder incontinence to ensure that they sent me for an MRI
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,941
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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