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RE: 7 weeks post-op microdiscectomy still in pain

I had a microdiscectomy on Feb 22nd for two herniated discs; I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my spine. Two steroid infections failed to be effective. Now I still have pain that has required a minimum of two Lortab 10s per day. When it rains i am back to taking them every four hours. I still have sciatic pain. And, the hot, sharp pain I had before that "catches" when I change positions, lift my leg, roll over, etc. continues. I feel as if I am put together off center if that makes sense. I keep hearing from the phone nurse at my neurosurgeon that I am healing, nerves are touchy to work with, etc. but I will say this--this is old pain that is different from sciatic pain, post-surgery pain, and the pain from the discs themselves. Should I be off the pain meds? Should I ask for a second MRI? Could I have RE-injured it? Am I a wuss? Should I ask fora second opinion? I feel as if I don't know what to ask and that if I don't ask the right stuffing I won't get the right answers. Sitting,standing,walking, and lying down for any length of time is painful. I am 37 and in good health. I shouldn't hurt like this and cannot function without the pain meds I'm terrified of needing. But the pain is real; I'm afraid b/c I have no relief even after healing this long. I'm also afraid the doc will say no more meds; what happens then? Pain management doctor? I don't know what to do but lying home all day isn't an option. I have to support my family.


  • this is not unusual. I have DDD and am 12 weeks post op for microdiscectomy at l5/s1. the questions your asking are the same things I have asked myself over and over again. these questions weren't helped by the fact that a lot of sites suggest that 6 weeks should be a point of recovery. but look deeper and youll find that this isn't the case. the wound may be healed but you are still in recovery. the nerve that can be affected by a prolapsed disc can take a very long time to heal. I am still getting the "catching pain" when I turn in any way although it does seem to be easing in the last couple of weeks. learn to stop putting yourself under pressure. if you have major concerns ask for a second opinion if for nothing else then just to ease your concerns. should you be off your meds?? well I came off mine because I wanted to break the cycle, and this was fine while I wasn't doing a lot but I am now back to them. when you ask for a second opinion ask the questions you've just asked. I know how frustrating it can be when you walk away from an appointment and realise you haven't said the things you wanted too. write them down before you go so you don't forget them in conversation. what is your main concern at the moment? try to deal with and understand one thing at a time. I know your frustrations and understand your concerns. I still cant sit of stand for any length of time. take it easy and don't try to sprint the marathon
  • Thank you for your reassurance. And I am feeling anxious. All I've wanted is for the nurse to normalize my feelings and experience. I've even said that to her. She's flat in affect and disinterested. Ever meet a nurse who makes you wonder why he/she entered a field that usually requires empathy? This would be one of those cases. So, I will go Monday and have my list and be ready to tell the doc how frustrating it is. And I will ask at what point he will worry and maybe allow myself to relax. Today the sciatic pain and electrified shocks were not on the right as they usually are; they were on the left. That's when I surrendered and decided I would just wait and see. I have no choice and may help the process but relaxing.
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  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    edited 04/13/2013 - 11:42 PM
    i am sure that you will find your time on spine-health very rewarding. this site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    here are just some of the highlights:

    - detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal conditions and treatment

    - the wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - under the resource tab, there is a section doctor advice health center which can be invaluable.

    - as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 international members and growing daily.

    - it is very important to understand the forum rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - as a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. you should read forum faq

    if you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the private message facility to contact any one of the moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • don't expect sympathy off all those in the medical profession. some will put an arm around you, some will push you to encourage you and some just don't consider your feelings. let me know how you get on, I also now get some pain on the left after surgery so it will be good to know what they say. chin up and try to smile.
  • Thank you for reminding me that the docs and nurses may not be that war and loving. Truly, I know they get conditioned and are even trained to spot drug-seeking bx and hypochondriacs. My legitimate account may not differ from someone's exaggerated story but that isn't my fault or my problem. I must advocate for me.

    My new pain on my left is not soreness from overcompensating. It is the same pain that sent me for surgery on the right side that wasn't present on the left before, so I'm anxious to know what he says as well.
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  • And now, perhaps b/c the next three days are to include rain, my right foot (the original painful side) is exceptionally painful the skin is tight, as if on the verge of a spasm, with sharp pain and tingly sensations that occasional extend to the ends of some toes. Yet another mystery...probably not. Nerves are an interesting group of creatures...
  • If it wasn't for the fact that your surgery date and level of disc repaired was different than mine, I could have written your original post! (I am even 37!). I had my surgery March 20th: a L4L5 discectomy/laminectomy. I was like "YES!" when you mention the "catching" pain because that is what I have been having and it is like a jolt of electricity each time. Add to that that we are heading into week 2 of daily rain in the Midwest (good for plant roots, bad for nerve roots!) and so now I have had just a dull, achy pain all the time:(. I am pretty sure I didn't do anything because I have been real careful. And also adding to my misery is the fact thatI can't take any anti-inflammatories because they KILL my stomach. I am taking Tylenol. That's it. I am back at work so I can't take anything that would make me drowsy anyway. I too need all the reassurance I can get from other people who have "been there, done that.". As much as my well-meaning friends and family are supportive and say "You'll be fine--stay positive" they don't get it unless they have experienced this type of pain. Just wanted to tell you that I am right there with you ! I go for another follow-up appt. next Tuesday. I will be bringing my list as well!
  • ...it feels great to not feel alone doesn't it? I go today at 4 PM CST and am now armed with a list of questions. As I may have mentioned earlier I feel as if going in without knowing what to ask will leave me uninformed. The nurse never offers information so I am stuck wondering later. This time I will have a list. And the doctor can answer the questions. I hate that my appointment is so late in the day b/c he always runs over on his other sessions. But I hope to have some kind of answer. I will keep everyone posted. :)
  • Amylynn75AAmylynn75 Posts: 13
    edited 04/15/2013 - 3:23 PM
    So I went in with my list of questions and got some answers. PT has been ordered for one month plus an anti-inflammatory. After that we reassess and may consider more injections, a second MRI, etc. I've been assured that the nerve pain I have is likely typical but that the pain on me left and right is likely about a long-standing issue I let go for eighteen months before seeking help. That's probably how long I walked around with two herniated discs before I asked for help from the doc who sent me for the MRI. I have likely been overcompensating and that's part of it. And the arthritis is here to stay. He was very nice even after I explained that I felt as if I was in the dark b/c I had. It asked the right questions. His nurse was as blah as ever, so I went Into giddy, cheerful cheerleader mode to annoy her...;). Next time maybe I will hug her. She actually had another nurse walk me back so I made her speak as I walked by. I don't understand why her work annoys her, but it does. I go back after a month of PT and am free to call as needed. Also, I am continuing the Neurontin for the nerve pain. He refrained from giving me a timeline or odds, and admitted PT would make it worse before it would make it better. That scares me, but we shall see.
  • CopperCCopper Posts: 2
    edited 04/15/2013 - 9:19 PM
    I had my first microdiscectomy L4-L5 Jan 15th 2013. During my recovery I started having severe nerve pain and was put on Lyrica. That helped, but the weekend before I was to return to work I was in incredible pain. I knew something was wrong and I returned to work with major muscle spasms. Causing my lower back to twist up just like before the surgery. I went to me Surgeon and he gave me some options including more injections. That help with the muscle spasm, but my nerve pain was still bad. He was thinking a MRI might be needed, I pushed for it. It revealed my disc re-herniated. I had another surgery April 3rd. I'm just under two weeks out now. I hope this is not the same case for you unless absolutely needed.

    I think it is important to listen to our body. In my case I had foot drop before my first surgery and still after my second. Since I hadn't had the foot drop that long. The thought was to get the 2nd surgery done sooner rather than later in hopes that it would not become permanent. It appears my foot is slightly strengthen. That is giving me hope. I do understand how scary this all is. Hang in there and let us know how the MRI turns out.
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