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KimD592KKimD592 Posts: 435
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
Okay, so I've been in serious pain today. I had my surgery, a two-level posterior thoracic discectomy, exactly 4 weeks ago. Things were getting better day-by-day, until two weeks ago. The discs my NS operated on were herniated to the right and caused mid-back pain that radiated around my ribcage and to the front. So anyway, two weeks ago I developed left sided pain that wraps around my ribcage and to the front. It's a mirror image of the pre-op pain I was having, except it's even worse (to the point it makes me nauseous) and it's on the left side. I should mention that the MRI I had back in November, as well as the CT myelogram on 5/12, both showed multiple herniated discs. T8-9 and T9-10 were the worst, and those were the ones I had operated on. T7-8 was also herniated, but to the left. He said since it wasn't causing any symptoms at the time, he was going to leave it alone. Well, when I was in the hospital after the surgery, they sent me for a stat CT scan because I was in an immense amount of pain post-op. He said the discs he operated on looked fine, but T7-8 has gotten worse in a two-month period. He still said we'll just wait and see, because I wasn't having any symptoms. He said if it came down to having surgery on it, he could try to do it posteriorly, but there was a good chance he'd have to convert to an anterior approach, which is a much riskier surgery.

So when this left-sided pain started 2 weeks ago, the first thing my husband and I thought about was this other disc. I waited a couple of days to see if it would go away, but it didn't, so I called my NS's office. I spoke with one of the NP's, and she felt that it was inflammation that was causing this pain, so she put me on a round of Prednisone. I took the full dose of Prednisone, but it didn't do anything for the pain. In the meantime I was continuing to take 800 mg of Motrin three times a day, as well as oxycodone and flexeril at bedtime. I can only take Motrin during the day, because the other stuff knocks me out, and I have three children to take care of. Over the weekend this past weekend, I felt really good. My mother-in-law took the kids Friday night and kept them all day Saturday. I spent the entire time resting on the couch, so I had very little pain, if any. So I decided to stop taking the Motrin, because it really upsets my stomach. I don't need a GI bleed on top of everything else. I still took the oxy and flexeril at bedtime, since the pain typically worsens by evening time.

Well, Monday comes around and it was back to the grind...taking care of four kids (I'm babysitting my BFF's 8-year old son while she works). The boys are both older, so they were able to help me out a lot, so I was still able to spend most of the day on the couch. I got up to husk some corn, and in the 5 to 10 minutes it took for me to husk the corn, the pain became intolerable. It made me physically sick. I resumed taking the Motrin, and took the stronger meds once DH got home. So what I'm still noticing is that as long as I'm sitting or laying down, I feel fine. But if I'm on my feet longer than a few minutes, I end up with severe left-sided pain. The longer I'm on my feet, the worse it gets. As it intensifies, it wraps around my ribcage to the front, and eventually shoots down my left leg.

I called and spoke with the NP again yesterday, and she sounded truly concerned. I told her everything I just told you all, and she put me on hold to run it by the doctor. she came back on the phone and said he doesn't want to do an MRI just yet, because he thinks it'll just show inflammation. They want me to continue to take the Motrin three times a day religiously, and I am supposed to call on Friday if it doesn't get any better. If I have any increased pain, numbness/tingling/weakness in my legs, or loss of bowel/bladder control, I'm to call immediately. Well, today I had my lift assessment for my new job. My NS gave me the okay to do it, but with a 10 lb weight restriction. It went perfectly fine until I had to walk for 10 minutes on the treadmill. I went at a pretty slow pace, but by the end the pain was starting to get pretty bad. I grinned and bared it, but popped a Motrin as soon as I got home. I layed down on the couch, since both girls were napping, and I figured I'd take a quick nap as well. I thought I'd feel better once I woke up, but nope...the pain was getting worse and worse. I took another Motrin, along with TWO Lidoderm patches, oxy, flexeril, valium, and ultram (spaced out, of course). After taking all of that, you'd think I'd be pain-free, but the pain is still pretty bad...though not as bad as it was.

I'm just not sure what to make of all of this. I feel like I've literally traded one pain for another, and this one is even worse. I know one month post-op is not a long time, but I feel like I should be doing a little better by now. And I want to believe that they are right and it is related to inflammation, but the Prednisone didn't help and the Motrin doesn't even begin to touch the pain. If it were inflammation-related, wouldn't the Prednisone have helped at least a little bit? Then I thought maybe it's muscular, but it's a burning pain, which feels more like nerve pain to me. Does it sound like it's that other disc that may be acting up? Given the severity of my pain this evening, do you think I should still wait until Friday to call, or should I call them tomorrow?

Sorry this is so long. I'm just desperate for answers. I had the surgery thinking it would help with my pain, and now I'm having new pain and taking more meds than ever. I have my own little pharmacy here at home.


  • I feel for you. I am the same time post op as you, 4 weeks. I don't feel any better than I did pre surgery, sometimes worse. I am on all my pre surgery meds ( ER and IR narcotics, valium and lyrica) I know that at my last appointment, last week, he said it takes a lot of time to heel 8 to 12 weeks to know if the surgery helped or not. I know that your situation is different as you are having similiar pre surgery pain but in a different location.
    Please continue not to push yourself, I'm sure it must be hard with little ones at home.Recovery really is a journey, a marathon it seems.Are you able to do a lot of walking in between resting? I still walk with a cane, but am trying to walk as much as I can, between resting.I feel the worst of my pain in the evening/night as well, and getting out of bed in the morning is also quite the event.

    Sounds like you had a pretty good weekend, while you were relaxing. This could be your bodies way of telling you to take it easy, that is what it needs.

    Take care >:D<
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • I try to take a short walk every day, to at least get myself out of the house and get some fresh air. But as I said before, within 5 to 10 minutes, that left-sided pain starts, and it gets bad quickly. My pain will go from a 2 to an 8 or 9 within just a few minutes of being on my feet. I just feel like this can't be normal. I understand that back surgery is a major ordeal and recovery takes a long time, but I feel like I've gone backwards. I was able to walk more the first two weeks than I am able to now. Granted, I no longer need to use the walker, so that's at least an improvement. And the right-sided pain I was having that led to me having surgery is almost completely gone. That, at least, has gotten significantly better. But this left-sided pain is absolutely excrutiating. And once it starts, it's very difficult to get rid of...even WITH the stronger pain meds and resting on the couch. I've been sitting on the couch all evening, since my husband got home from work, and the pain is maybe down to a 6...and that's after taking motrin, oxy, flexeril, valium, tramadol, and two lidoderm patches. I'm trying to remain optimistic, so I keep telling myself that it's inflammation that's putting pressure on the nerves and causing this pain. But I guess I'm starting to doubt that. My husband is furious because he thinks I need to have a repeat MRI now. So I'm trying to remain calm and downplay the severity of it. Lucky for me, I start my new job on Monday. I have two days of orientation, so I'll be able to sit all day, which will be a nice break. Lol, it's pretty sad when going to work is considered a break.
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  • So sorry to hear you are in so much pain

    First of all, my doctor told me CT can be unreliable with disc diagnosis and MRI is much more accurate - although I am in the UK so maybe there is a different method where you are so apologies if I am wrong :-)

    Did you have any leg pain on the right side before your surgery? Not sure if thoracic discs cause leg pain normally?

    I have a large rupture much further down at L5/S1 and I get pain under my ribs at night which hurts when I breath - like a burning sensation. Strange that such a low down disc can cause pain higher up so maybe it can be vice versa.

    Are your lumbar discs all ok?

    When the doctor said to call immediately if you get leg weakness, bowel/bladder weakness etc, it is the lumbar discs that cause this problem (cauda equina)

    I would push for another MRI - maybe possible they could have worsened T7/8 during surgery. I know it can sometime take time for discs to leak enough to cause nerve inflammation after injury which would explain why you were feeling better for the first couple of weeks

    There is definitely something going on and I think they should be seeing you asap - if there is any new nerve impingement it needs addressing before it leads to permanent damage

    Good luck and I do hope your pain settles

  • that you probably need to have another MRI to see what is going on. I know that you said that you had one after your surgery and what it showed. This was before you were having the significant pain on the left side.
    I especially worry about you since you are starting your new job on Monday, feeling the way you are. I know financially it is necessary, but I would want to know what is going on exactly in that area before or as soon as possible after starting your job.

    I have the same fears as you regarding my back. My doctor is sending me for an xray, although I really don't know if that is going to show much either way. Xrays don't show the discs or nerves so don't really see the point.

    Thinking of you Kim, and may we all soon find some relief to our pain.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Yes, I've had numbness and tingling in both legs for a couple of months prior to the surgery. There are parts of my legs and feet that are numb to touch. And occasionally I get sciatica, but it's typically in my left leg.

    I had a lumbar MRI, but it was an open MRI and I've heard the images are not as good with those. And, he only ordered the lumbar MRI in order to use it to count up during the surgery, to make sure he was operating on the correct levels. He didn't mention any herniations in the lumbar discs, but I'm going to ask him about it at my appt on 8/23.

    The loss of bowel/bladder and lower extremity weakness can also happen with thoracic discs. There is not as much space in the area of the thoracic spine, so it is a major concern with the t-spine.

    Surprisingly, I took a lot of pain meds last night and it barely helped. I woke up feeling okay this morning, so we'll see how this morning goes. If the pain gets worse again, I'll call today instead of waiting until Friday.
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  • HI,
    Read your latest posts, and in my opinion, something is not right here and needs to be looked at ASAP!
    When you have any spine surgery, it takes a little while for you spine to adjust, but this is not normal...what you are now feeling... You do need another MRI, and hopefully it will be soon. Call and speak to the dr, not anyone else... I must be lucky cause with all the surgeries I have had, if I call, it may be a few minutes, but I speak to the dr in between patients. Do not wait on this... you have a job and family to consider, and do not want to end up with more problems than you are already dealing with! Take care of yourself, do your best, rest and find the answer!
  • Thank you, Frannie. I think I'm going to give them a call today. So far the pain isn't too bad, but then again I just woke up and haven't been on my feet a whole lot yet. However, I do have sciatica in my left leg, and this is also becoming more common since the surgery. The Motrin isn't doing anything for my pain. It was only after I took oxy, flexeril, valium, and ultram (not all at once, of course), that the pain became somewhat tolerable. I ended up having to take a second oxy 4 hours later, and I was finally able to fall asleep. But I was in bad shape last night. Something is definitely not right, and with that other disc brewing, I'm a little nervous.
  • Sorry, I didn't realise thoracic discs could interfere with bladder etc nerves - As the horses tail comes in after L1 I assumed only the lumbar would compress them

    I have read that open MRI's are not as clear so it's difficult to tell from them I think - it needs the enclosed space to get a good image.

    As Frannie said, something is not right but hopefully it is just your spine adjusting

    Hope today is a better day for you


  • I was feeling pretty good all day today, until I got up to get dinner in the oven. I was on my feet for maybe 10 minutes. My husband had already mixed up the ground beef for meatloaf tonight, so all I had to do was shape it and put it in the oven. Just in that short amount of time, the pain hit like a freight train.

    I'm not concerned about starting my job on Monday, because it's a desk job and I'll be sitting, which isn't a problem for me. The problem is being on my feet...that is when the pain starts. And once it starts it's hard to get rid of. The Motrin isn't doing anything, and I've been taking the 800 mg three times a day religiously, like the doctor wanted me to, but I'm still having the pain. So I'm going to call the office tomorrow and let them know that I'm still experiencing this left-sided pain and sciatica in my left leg.
  • I decided to call the NS office today, since she told me to call if I was still having this left-sided pain. I spoke with the NP and she got a hold of the surgeon. They decided to send me for a repeat MRI and CT scan of the thoracic spine, with and without contrast. They know I have other discs that are herniated, so they want to see if it's one of these other discs acting up.

    They are going to fax me the scripts, so that hopefully I can get in next week to have these tests done. They said it's not emergent at this point, but if I have any increased weakness in my legs or loss of bowel/bladder, obviously I'd need to call right away.

    Ugh! I feel like this nightmare is starting all over again.
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