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Discouraged and in pain 5 days after plif

pepper09ppepper09 Posts: 138
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I will try to make this as short as possible!

Dec 31, 2008 - right sided L-5 transitional discectomy. Right sided leg pain went away for 2 weeks, but returned.

Feb 25, 2009 - MRI - "large recurrent disc extrusion" "significant herniation which does appear to be a new extruded fragment on the right"

Mar 19, 2009 - Posterior lumbar interbody fusion - L5-S1. Stayed in the hospital 2 nights, 3 days and the pain in the right leg has not gone away yet.

So, it's day 5 since my second back surgery and I am in excruciating pain still that goes down my right leg. I went to bed last night at 10:00 pm and woke up at 11:30 pm and then took 2 pain pills. I am still wide awake and can't sleep. I took 2 more pain pills at 3:30 am. I took two over the counter "simply sleep" sleep medication. I also took a dose of flexaril and now I feel completely drugged out.

1. Is this normal 5 days post-op to have pain down my right leg still? The morning of the surgery we (husband, my daughter) stopped at Walgreens and I could barely walk because of the shooting pain down my right leg. Right after the surgery for a couple of days, I didn't feel the leg pain, but it came back. I can walk and it's a different pain than before surgery where I couldn't walk for a few minutes after getting out of a car or a chair, so I am thinking that this pain down my leg has a different cause.

2. What would be the worst scenario 5 days after surgery for the pain to worse on day 5? I am following the don't bend, lift or twist (I did lift a gallon of milk yesterday though and it was full....).

3. I keep getting the feeling that this fusion surgery was not successful and I have an irrational fear that the "hardware" installed in me will come lose or that the disc protrusion is back even though I have the brackets to hold it in place. Is it possible that the disc that was operated on is hitting my nerve again?



  • Sorry to hear you are in so much pain. Although there are many people that get immediate relief from their sciatic pain following the operation ...... some take longer. The nerve that was being impinged upon has been through a lot and the irritation of the actual surgery (inflammation, cut muscle, cut bone, etc...) can cause leg pain to continue for some time. Don't worry yet, I have heard many stories of people who were patient and over time the sciatica went away. The nerves need time to recover and possible regenerate. In the mean time, try to get your pain under control so you can get some good sleep in the next few months. Lack of sleep will make it harder to heal and will intensify most people's pain.
  • Sorry to hear about your leg pain. Do you a cane or walker to help you get around and take the pressure off? Maybe there's inflammation where he operated. If the painpills don't help call your Surgeon. Take care and I hope you're getting better after so many years of pain in your back. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • I had surgery Dec 11 and had 2 level PLIF and discetomey. I had alot of pain from 3 disc torn, and still do. I think it is way to early for you to think about failure. Nerves are damaged and they are really slow to heal. Something like a width of a hair a day. So, remember no B L T and try now to lift milk gallons. I had my husband put some in half gallon so i could get it without asking. You have been in a major surgery and it takes months to fuse. I know, I aam three months out and it is just starting to feel better. I had alot of nerve damage and felt like you. I also am still on some pretty heavy narcotics for pain. It just takes time. Dont get flustered and if you cant get pain under control, call you Dr. If pain gets ahead of you, you wont get it under conrol and be miserable. Good Luck.
  • Call your surgeon to see what they can do for your pain. I have called at least five times since the microdiscectomy (Day 20 postOP) for help. Always been helpful.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!
  • When I had my shoulder replacement I cam home loaded up on Percocet and dilaudid. After being awake for 3 days straight I called my surgeon. They promptly gave me a script for one of the sleeping aids, I forget which one now. I had to take a double dose of it to get to sleep! I had to call the doc back after the first night because the regular dose did NOTHING! They OK'd two.

    It is very common for people to not be able to sleep when on large doses of painkillers after surgery. Some people they knock out, some they keep awake. Staying awake for a few days straight makes even the simplest of things bad/difficult, please check in with your doctor.

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  • Pepper, it is way to early to worry about failed surgery. Your nerve was compressed and needs time to heal. The disc should no longer be there, they remove most if not all of it and replace it with an interbody spacer. If your pain is not controllable, call your surgeon. Perhaps a nerve pain medication is in order. Get his opinion on this. I had pain down my legs for about 3 weeks after my fusion, different than preop but definitely nerve related. Your body has been traumatized and healing takes time. Hope you feel better soon. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I agree it is too soon to tell if the surgery was successful or not.

    My pain is now focused on the surgery incision and hydrocodone just takes the edge off of the pain. I could take oxycodone,, but it is too strong and I'm already addicted to hydrocodone and will need to ween myself off of it eventually so that I can go back to work drug free.

    I have noticed that my legs are a lot stronger this time than they were with my 1st surgery. A lot of my pain on the first surgery was coming from legs and from muscles that had never been used! I don't have any muscle pain this time, just nerve pain. I am taking neurontin but it makes me feel weird and drugged out.
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