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Post-Op Walking

sstbmadsenssstbmadsen Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I know you are supposed to walk a lot after surgery but man, it hurts like a beeyotch! Does it get easier? When I'm done my left sciatic nerve feels like a 300 pound dude is jumping on it. Any ideas? (ps I had a 3 level discectomy l3-s1 4 days ago.


  • It takes a lot of patience, you are so soon after surgery. Walking is important, but you have to start slow, listen to your body and slowly progress and lengthen the amount you walk. You want to make sure you are walking on flat even surfaces.

    are you taking pain meds? meds for spasms? if so are you taking them regularly? What about icing? do you have a brace?

    Have you always had this pain,ie since day 1 post op.,or is this new?

    Hang in there! You have come to the right place. There are so many knowledgable members who can give you excellant ideas/advice. Hang in there Shari
  • Thanks for the encouragement. In response:

    Yes, I am taking lortab 7.5/500 1-2 pills every 4-6 hours as needed. I took this before the surgery, so it doesn't really seem to be working that much.

    I take 600 mgs of neurontin 2 times daily.

    I was taking spasm meds, but they made me so sick I had to stop (same with percocet I was taking).

    My doc didn't tell me to ice, maybe he just figured I would do it. I just started today.

    I don't have a brace.

    Yeah, this left sided sciatic pain has been pretty constant since the second day after surgery. 2 of the levels (L3 and L4) were left sided herniations and L5 was right sided, so who knows? Before the surgery, my right one was the one hurting and I have had virtually no problem with it.

    Maybe it's the fact that I don't have a flat, even surface to walk on by my house. I mean, my street isn't super steep, but it definitely has an incline. Any ideas?
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  • When I had a one level fusion two years ago, I could only walk the length of my house, sit down for a minute or two, and walk back to the den where I had my recovery bed. The first couple days I used the walker. Then I didn't use it except for trips to the surgeon's office, but I still could only walk the length of the house and back.

    If you had nerve compression for a long time, you may just be able to walk a short ways at the beginning. That is your starting point. You should expect some pain, but if it is overwhelming, or makes your pain level significantly worse several hours later on in the day, or the next day, you are probably pushing yourself too much.

    You should aim to add just a few steps more each day. It is much more important to walk short distances frequently than worrying about distance. Walking is important because it stretches out the spinal nerves, which helps to keep scar tissue from attaching to them. This is particularly important from about week three to week six, when the majority of fibrosis is forming and potentially attaching. Also walking brings freshly oxygenated blood to the surgical site, which does not have many blood vessels going through it.

    Once you are able to walk outside, be sure it is on a level surface -- no inclines. Oh, I just reread your post. Is it a gradual incline? You really should be on a level surface. Is there a shopping mall or public building near you with long halls where you could walk?

    One little trick I discovered when I was having trouble walking was to shorten up on my usual (pre-surgical) stride. And speed of course, is not important.

    You are still very early in your recovery. Allow yourself a bit longer to really rest and recover and see if that helps any. Try to be sure you are always keeping your weight spread evenly between the two sides of your body -- like when sitting, do not lean to one side, or cross one leg over the other. Sit on both "sit bones" with both feet flat on the floor. Same thing when standing. Be very aware of your weight distribution. Those of us with sciatic pain have tended to favor one side over the other. I was unaware of how much I favored one side. When working in the kitchen, for example, I had more of my weight on my left side. It is a difficult habit to break, but very important!!

    Also when sleeping, try to switch from one side to the other, again not to favor one side.

    I would say not to worry at this point. Try to just relax and maintain a positive attitude. Acknowledge that your body has been through MAJOR trauma and has a lot to recover from. If things aren't slightly improved at your first doctor's check, that is the time to discuss it with your surgeon.

    Good luck with your recovery.

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