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5 months post-op questions.

casale2accasale2a Posts: 6
edited 10/10/2014 - 4:00 AM in Recovering from Surgery
My name is Matt. I am 24 years old, I've been in fairly bad shape for most of my life, unfortunately. I got really serious about it about 2 years ago, but by that time I guess it was too late for my back... About 5 months ago, on April 29th, 2014, I had a L4-L5 Laminectomy Decompression on my lower back. I went through the typical horrifyingly painful recovery experience that lasted for the first few weeks and then things were starting to look pretty good. Up until about a month ago when I started experiencing some subtle back pain. My left thigh has been numb/tingly/sometimes in pain ever since the surgery. The surgeon's told me that it'd be that was for the first few months, but it's still like that and sometimes it can hurt pretty bad.

Now, I have OCD and I often think too much about things. So it is entirely possible that it could be all in my worrisome mind, but I'm certainly the type to go on Google or WebMD and search my symptoms and freak out prematurely. I mean, before I went to the surgeon I was convinced that I had cancer in my spine!

My questions:

- For people who have been in similar situations, is it common to have slight pain 5 months after surgery? It's NOTHING like it was before. There's not really any leg pain, but for instance when I first wake up and get out of bed or after being quite active all day - I do go to the gym 5 days out of the week and do some running/weight lifting.

- Can you give me any exercises that have worked for you? The surgeon's gave me a few, but I swear they don't do much for me (Lifting one leg up towards my stomach and holding it, switching between legs and then doing both legs at once)

- Can anyone give me some hope that I don't have to be scared EDITED for the rest of my life that my back would give out again? I wouldn't wish that pain to my worst enemy... It really scares me that it'll happen again. I'm cautious, but I am still worried.

Thank you,


  • Matt, I am also 5 months out from a L4/L5 spinal fusion. Most days I feel good. I can do a lot more than I could prior to surgery, but I still get achey even if I don't overdo it. My surgeon said this is normal, and would more than likely be normal for up to a year. Other than that, he said my fusion looks great. Today is a sore day and it could be from 2 things; 1) a weather front is coming in and I might be sensitive to that or 2) I didn't do my morning walk. I notice that if I don't do any type of exercise my back hurts more than if I do. As far as pain and tingling sensation, my surgeon said the tingling can happen for the rest of my life, but the pain should subside within a year. I will never be 100%. I'm okay with that because the pain is manageable now without taking ibuprofen or something stronger.

    I do not have to do physical therapy (thank goodness), but I can give you exercises I did prior to surgery. They really didn't help much though. Do you have a balance ball? If so, sit on it and get yourself in a neutral spine position (hips not too far forward or stuck out), slowly lift one leg straight, put it down then lift the other. Do 3 reps of twenty. Do the same thing but this time keep knee bent when lifting. Again 3 reps of 20. Next, while in a kneeling position, put your lower arms on the balance ball and roll forward to a plank and hold for 10 seconds, roll back in to kneeling position. Do 10 times. Lying on your back, put a small (kick ball size) ball in between your legs and squeeze. While squeezing the ball, roll your pelvic floor forward toward the ceiling slowly. Do 10 times. There are others, but those were the main ones.

    Matt, you are young and your healing should be phenomenal. Give yourself some time to heal and don't overdo it during that time. I think your over the worst of it though. Just keep in mind that your still in the normal healing timeframe and that aches are going to happen during that time. If they get worse, then see the surgeon. I live with a worrier, and I too can worry needlessly, we're human, it's all good. You might want to think about yoga or meditation to help calm your inner voices (nerves). It helps. Personally I cannot do yoga for another couple months due to the fusion (per dr orders) not being completely fused, but I'm biting at the bit wanting to get back to the yoga. I'm not going to mess up my fusion and be in more pain though, so I'll wait until the new year to start.

    Julie K
    L4/L5 fusion TLIF for spondylolisthesis on 5/12/14
  • Running should not be something you are doing, unless you cleared it with your spine surgeon, and weight lifting should also not be done unless your surgeon cleared you to do it.
    Running causes impacts to your spine and discs , and since you have already had issues, continued impacts to the spine from running may not be in your best interest.
    Weight lifting, done incorrectly can cause further problems. Before undertaking any excercise program, you should discuss that with your surgeon to ensure that it is not going to cause more problems down the road.
    He can direct you with the proper excercises for where you are at recovery wise, and can refer you to physical therapy for strengthening your core muscles to help protect your spine.
    Excercises that work for someone else may not be in your best interest, so you need to talk to your surgeon about recommendations.
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  • You also need to have a good understanding of all issues that were affecting your back before surgery. I have multiple issues and the surgeon told me that surgery would not "fix" my back but that it would help with certain areas and at least give nerves a chance to heal. At 8 weeks post-op it is still early on the nerve front, but the other pain did disappear. I was told there is a fifteen percent chance that things could flaring 3 years but am staying positive and trying to live in and appreciate the moment.
  • Matt you should listen to al of the advice that,s in these posts. This is my 4th spine surgery and you will have flair ups with certain nerves for some time. I still experience nerve pain from my surgery at T12-L1 in June 2013. I have had additional MRI,s that indicated yes I still have some herniation at that level but the laminectomy / micrdicectomy had resolved 90% of my issues from that area. Now I am currently 4 weeks post op from bilateral L5-S1 laminectomy, facetectomy and foramiinotomies for decompression of the L5-S1 nerve roots with a posterior instrumental fusion. For good measure he also performed a laminectomy at L4-L5 to free up nerves that were pinched off at that level too. Every day gets better and yes there are setbacks. But listen to your body. I would not be doing any weightlifting only 5 months out of spine surgery though. posts such as these from those that have gone through the rigors spine surgery and recovery are great resources and you can take a lot away from them.
  • Listen to your body.
    Get clearance for any activity. Esp. Weights and running. Think. 80 yr. Old man during recovery. Walking. Swimming.
    Patience grasshopper. This too will pass. Care now should help you in future.
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