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5 Wks. After Lumbar Decompression, Still Severe Pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
It's now 5 wks after my Lumbar Decompression. The pain is still as bad as it was before, the only difference is that now pain pills will ease the pain for about 3 hrs., then I have to take more pain meds. Before surgery, nothing eased the pain. I had 3 bulging disk and 2 herniated disk. I also have degenerative disk disease, plus osteoarthritis. My surgeon says that instead of herniating on the inside, mine herniated on the outside. He says this happens in 1 out of 100 cases. He says that the pain is still there because he had to disturb all the nerves and they have to heal. I've started PT, and it helps for about 30 min. max. Has anyone heard disk herniating on the outside and is there light at the end of the tunnel. He said that if there isn't improvement in 30 days, he's going to do a mylogram to see if there is another nerve compressed. I really don't want that. I sympathize with all that are in pain. I am so tired of it that I don't know what to do. To top it all off, prior to the back problems, I was told that I needed knee replacements on both knees. I've had previous surgeries on both knees. I'm 56 yrs. old and would like to think that I have good years left. I'm beginning to wonder. I recently filed for disability, which I've heard that everyone is denied first time. Since I can't work, I'm slowly going under. I think my children avoid talking to me because they don't like to see me in pain, and that's the norm now. Any advice from anyone out there. One more thing, I've been on meds for depression since 2002, when my husband passed away at the age of 52. He lived 28 days after a heart transplant. Any suggestions and is it that unusual for a disk herniation to be on the outside. If anyone understands what my MRI says in layman terms, please let me know.


MRI: 10-29 08
1. Degenerative Disk disease with left Lateral 4-5mm HNP at L4-5 into neural foramina along with facet arthropathy, creates considerable left L4 and L5 nerve root compromise and foraminal narrowing.

2. Left paracentral and left lateral 3-4 mm potrusion at L3-4 with bilateral facet arthropathy, creates compression of the left side of the thecal sac, as well as left L4 nerve root and foraminal compromise.

3. Bilateral posterolateral protrusions at L5-S1, most prominently on the right, with bilateral facet arthropathy, creates some right sided foraminal narrowing without central canal stenosis

4. Central Disk potrusions at T11-12, L1-2 and L2-3.


  • HI Judy, I wish that I had the magic formula for you, but don't. When's your next appointment with the doc? Pain after a lumbar decompression is expected, but if it continues past a certain point, then the doc should be consulted.

    Sorry about your husband and the way that your children are acting towards you. I'm sure that's not helping your over all situation any.

    What kind of support do you have locally? Are you being treated by your PCP or any other doc?

    Hang in there,

  • Thanks for the reply. I just got back from physical therapy. It helps for about 30 minutes. They do the deep massage, tins unit with heat on top, then a few leg exercises. My leg that still has the pain as before, feels like it weighs 100 lbs. They said that's because it's so weak. I'm very lucky. I retired in 2003 from the phone company and I have very good insurance. I lived on my retirement money for 5 yrs. That's gone, but thank God for the insurance. I have a great Primary Care Physician, plus I thought I had a great Orthopedic Surgeon. Now beginning to wonder. I guess I'm just getting discouraged. The only difference I can see is that before the surgery, The only thing that would stop the pain was a trip to the ER and get morphine. Pain meds couldn't touch the pain. Now, the drugs will ease the pain for about 3 1/2 hrs. Then the pain is back again. I take Norco, Carisoprodol (which is a muscle relaxer), Lyrica, & Celebrex. That's just meds to help the pain. I have another list of meds for the High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and Depression. This can't be a good thing. I'm just wondering what the point is in having surgery if the problem is still going to exist. Last visit he said that if it isn't better next visit, which is in a month, he'll do a myelogram to see if another nerve is compressed. I don't want to go through this again. I feel like an invalid at this poing. Thanks again for your reply. So nice to talk with folks that have an idea what I'm going through.
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  • Judy,

    I am starting to wean off the pain meds--7 weeks post-fusion/decompression. They had to move my nerve to a "more healthy location" during the surgery.

    I have kept myself very comfortable during the recovery on heavy doses of meds. Well, today I felt nerve pain since I am taking so much less pain meds--OMGosh. I feel for you...I am hoping it just takes time...I've heard we are talking months, not weeks. Hang in there.

  • I totally understand how you feel. I had no relief from my decompression surgery. I went in for a ct/myelogram 4 weeks after. I wasn't told much about the results, 2 post op ESI's were ordered that didn't help. I took a lot of steroids and anti inflammatories and antidepressants to calm the back and nerve pain. I was really worried and confused as to why this was going on. Later on after I was discharged did I know the full extent of my problems, and I was upset. I had no idea that my vertebra slipped, that I had 2 herniations instead of one, recurrent herniation and nerve impingement. At least I stoppped blaming myself for not feeling better.
    Ortho's usually wait 12 weeks to gauge how you are coming along in your recovery. If something's up, it should show up on the ct/myelogram. There's still a chance you can improve, it takes around a year for the nerve to heal. I was told that I would always have some kind of back pain post op. I never expected anything like this though.
    Keep up with the PT and try to walk whenever possible. Surgery like this takes time to get over. I hope you get to feeling better and have a positive outcome :)
  • It's so hard not to get discouraged. I tried yesterday to do a few things around the house. Simple things like folding clothes, dishes, and etc. I was up most of the night waiting until time I could take more pain meds. They don't seem to be working at all. I have 3 more weeks until my next appt. at my Orthopedic Surgeon. I'm praying for a miracle. Some sign of improvement. Before surgery, I had 2 injections. They took me in for one, brought me out to recovery, and then took me back in to do another. Neither one gave me relief at all. Then we scheduled surgery. Now, still no relief. I'm just sick of the pain. Prior to this, I only had a MRI. Now he's talking about a Myelogram if no improvement on my next appt. Obviously, I'm a big baby. I'm scared to death as usual. How much pain is involved in getting a myelogram? You know, everyone can sympathize, but unless you've had this sort of pain, it's hard to understand how bad it really is. I appreciate so much having others that truly can understand since you've been there.

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  • I appreciate your reply on 01/02. It's now 5 days later and the pain is getting considerably worse. I have an appt. with a pain management doc. on 01/19. Then back to the surgeon on 01/29. I notice that alot of members on this site have a Fentanyl patch. Does this help? I have no more refills on Norco and the doc. switched me from Soma to Flexerill. They said the pain management Dr. would be handling meds. and etc. from now on. Problem is I don't see him until the 19th. The pain is getting unbearable again. It's hard to sleep, hard to walk, absolutely hard to live with this pain. Yesterday, I canceled PT. I was in so much pain, I couldn't go. There has to be something that will help. I hope the pain management can do something. Thanks again, and please let me know about Fentanyl.

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