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Bed rest for nerve pain?

Hi again everybody,

I have a question. My L3/4 fusion was Dec. 18 (I've also had L4/5 fusion in 2010 and a 3-level ACDF in 2008). Everything seemed to be going well but I've had increasing nerve pain shooting down my left leg, the front of my thigh, and have a numb oval om my left calf.

Saturday night I was sitting on the floor with my little Wally when I moved wrong (don't know if I did the big no-no, twisting), but I suddenly had a major stabbing, shooting pain go down into my left leg all the way to my foot. I'm now having trouble walking, worse than before, and the pain is always there.

I had some nerve pain with my first lumbar surgery, but not to this extent or lasting this long. I can also actually press an area on my incision that will cause a sharp pain in my left thigh. We're talking debilitating at this point.

I discovered that if I lay down on the couch or bed on my right side, taking all pressure off my left leg, that it helps almost immediately. And the longer the better it is. It never goes away, but at least I can then walk without a walker or hanging on to furniture.

Knowing you're not doctors and knowing I'm seeing my surgeon on Friday, would you recommend bed rest for the week? Should I stop walking for a few days? What did you do to help your unprecedented and unexplained nerve pain? I'm not on nerve meds at this time, thinking this would go away, but it's just gotten worse and I don't know if I should do continual resting with no walks or just live with it.

Any idea what I should expect my surgeon is going to do? We're so afraid he'll have to go back in to fix this - are there exercises that might help?

So my questions are, from your experience, will bed rest help? Should I stop walking for a few days? Is there something else I should be doing? And what should I expect from my surgeon on Friday?

Any help would be appreciated.


  • I am sorry to hear that your nerve pain has increased.
    After my lumbar fusion, my nerve pain was gone, so my case is not the same as yours.
    What I did have though before that surgery, was awful sciatica in both legs that would often have me in tears.
    I used to find lying down would help, especially on my side, lying on the opposite side to the pain. I didn't rest in bed all day, but would lie down to improve the nerve pain for a while. Then I could get up and move about for a while. If the pain came back, I would lie down again.

    Have you tried icing it in case the nerves are inflamed and compressed? Anti-inflamatories are probably not a good idea as they impede fusion, but some surgeons allow them. I think I would compile a list of questions for the appointment on Friday.

    It is good that you are seeing your doctor on Friday so can talk to him about this. I would ask for nerve pain meds to get you through this. Since my ACDF I am back on Gabapentin (Neurontin). I will see my surgeon again at the end of March, so intend to wean myself off it before then, so I will have an idea of how much relief I have got from the surgery. When I saw him at 6 weeks, my symptoms had returned. He is still hopeful that I will get relief. I hope he is right!

    Take care Cathie and I hope that your pain will settle down very soon.
    Do let us know how you get on.
    I wish I could be of more help :-) xx

  • I dont think the dr will have an answer for you at this point, I will bet you 5 dollars he will say give it time,
    No reason to go back in as too soon to tell if nerve is just pissed off from inflamation from surgery,
    He will say give it time to heal and recomend nerve med, If you cant take the nerve med as myself then you need med that helps inflammation and then pain med along with it only as needed,

    Hopefully its not nerve damage that wont heal, This is why nerve pain is always scary not knowing is it short term or long term , When its flared up dont push it it will make it worse, Been there done that, Walk when its calmed down so this is the reason having to lay back down often during the day so you dont piss off the nerve to the point where you ready to go to er,

    Try eleve also if you not tried it yet, has naprisen in it and helps with inflammation, If you can get inflammation down its easier to control the pain with small dose of norco in my case,

    So if this is what your doctor tells ya also you owe me 5 bucks! Git-er-done
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
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  • winkiewwinkie Posts: 174
    edited 01/21/2013 - 12:48 PM
    I think Alex is right, especially when the nerve pain involves inflammation. When my nerve pain ramps up I do like jellyhall suggests and try to find a way to ease the pain off as much as you can. The ice packs did help a bit and telling myself that even though the stabbing pain was intense, there was no blood - lol. Sounds crazy but I think of my nerve pain as being like a nasty neighbour with a barking dog - annoying, frustrating, painful etc.. Hopefully you will get some help on Friday but as Alex said they will probably say "give it time"- easy to say but harder to do. The pain control exercises may help a wee bit but you know your body the best. Not sure if you have a pain management doc. but he may be able to offer advice on the phone. Lets hope this is a short term issue and as the inflammation lessens so does the pain. Hope Friday comes round soon, a list of questions for the doc. is a great idea, so many things to remember, even my matching undies and clothes- takes me forever to get them on & off- my hubby laughs at me as I fool nobody.
    Big Hugs n' Loves - Paula
  • When the nerve pain was about a week old and unbearable, I had the doc give me a Medrol pack, so we've tried the major anti-inflam. It did seem to help for a few days, then it worked its way back to where it was.

    I do use ice packs and rest when it's bad, so I guess thats the best I can do for now. Yes, Alex, three times I've been close to going to the ER until I discovered that if I lay down on the side that doesn't hurt, like Jelly said, I will just do that.

    It bums me out because I want to sit in my recliner - I love it, but since the couch is really the only way to get comfort, I've loaded the first two seasons of Downton Abby and will watch that on my iPad. Decent exchange, I suppose.

    Thanks again, guys. I appreciate all the ideas and thoughts. I'll keep you posted on what the doc says Friday.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,345
    edited 01/22/2013 - 1:08 AM

    I have series 1 and 2 DVDs here that I keep meaning to watch.
    I am reading the Hunger Games Trilogy (about to start the third book) and several other books that are waiting to be read.
    I also want to finish writing a short story for my grandson. I wrote one for his sister after my lumbar fusion and want to do one for him. I have the idea and notes on what I intend to write, but I need to turn them into a book!

    Right now Cathie, you are just going to have to give in to your body. It is telling you that it wants/needs you to just rest. I know it is very frustrating when you want to get up and move. Make yourself a comfortable place to lie down and relax and watch Downton Abbey. Short walks every now and then, but when that pain returns, it is time to give in to it.

    Good luck on Friday and I hope that your doctor will have an idea to help your pain, even if he does say that you must give it time.

    Take care xxx
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  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 01/22/2013 - 7:21 PM
    Hi Cathie, I am so sorry for the pain you have been going through. It is so disheartening when you think surgery has solved your problems and then boom something else happens. I had several severe attacks of sciatica one summer and doctor asked me what I was doing differently and I could think of nothing new but I did add that I had started sitting on the floor with legs crossed to watch TV which I always did before back problems. He fussed at me and said under no circumstances are you to sit or lie on the floor again. That is one of worse things you can do. I never realized that and have noticed that few times I have done this since I will have a flair. Hope this helps and hope you get better quickly.


  • Kelli,
    I have tried sitting on the floor with my grandchildren, especially the 14 month old boy. I have definately found that my back doesn't like it!

    However, lying on the floor was always a way to help my back when it was painful. Getting up and down from the floor are not brilliant. I think I'll stick to the bed in future when I can. I have had to lie down on the floor in the past (before my lumbar fusion) at church and even at the school where I work due to awful back pain.

    Hope that the ice packs are helping you Cathie xx :-)

  • Hi all.

    I woke up Tuesday and the nerve pain in my left leg was minimal. It usually is first thing in the am, so I didn't think much about it. But as the morning went on, it didn't come. I was feeling just a slight twinge of pain, but it was mostly gone. So I took a long walk with my friend (probably too long and included some heels - I just felt like it and said f--k it, I'm doing this) and I felt fine. Then by the afternoon, the nerve pain was completely gone.

    Here it is Thursday and it's barely there. It' been fantastic. However, now I'm feeling the surgical recovery pain in my back that the nerve pain was apparently masking. But that I can deal with, I know it won't last forever. Or it shouldn't, anyway.

    So thanks for all the suggestions and for those of you who have this post-surgical nerve pain, know that it can very well be temporary. It may be the toughest week(s) of your life, but it can go away and when it does you just feel like dancing. :-)

  • great news, so glad to hear.
    Look out world, Cathie is BACK!
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
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