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Sciatica much worse after surgery - reassurance needed!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321

First time poster so be gentle

Had L5-S1 discectomy 1 week ago following 10 months of sciatica that got progressively worse. I'm in the uk so was looking at a very big wait on the NHS so eventually had to get a loan and get a private operation.

My sciatica was instantly much much worse post op and is not subsiding at all (was a constant 6 before and is now a 8/9 when the pain killers start to wear off). I'm on gabapentine, plus paracetamol, diclofenac and oxycodone. I can't be on my feet for more than 30 seconds without the pain hitting a 10 and the room spinning. I'm spending all day either lying on my side in bed or propped up on the sofa and it is driving me insane. I'm also ridiculously emotional and am crying at everything.

My surgeon says my nerve was very angry and that there was a big bit of disc stuck to it so he is not surprised that I am in so much pain. I'm at home now and very miserable. Is this normal? I've read so much on here about the sciatica being gone after the op.

I'm not sure how much of this pain I can take and am very scared I'm going to be stuck with it forever. I'm getting married at the end of September and have visions of me passing out during my vows.

Am I being an impaatient baby or am I right to be worried?



  • I am so sorry to hear that you are in more pain.

    Nerves are a very painful thing and it can take ages for them to get better. However, that being said, if you are feeling worse, i would keep phoning your surgeon (every week- maybe every day depending on the pain) because my understanding is that it should start to ease off soon....maybe not quickly, but hopefully soon. You know your body, so you need to stay in their faces so they keep an eye on you.

    Maybe someone here has experienced the same thing.

    I hope it eases for you soon.

  • Hi fly,

    It is not uncommon for patients to feel more nerve pain following surgery just for the reasons that your doctor described. The pain should start to diminish over time. There are many people here at SH who said it took up to a month for it to really start to feel better. It may take several months before it really settles down. I know that's not what you want to hear with your wedding coming up in September. Congratulations by the way! Give it some time and remember to keep treating your back very gently so that you get the best outcome possible! I wish you good luck in your recovery!
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  • I'm 4 weeks post op and still have sciatic pain. From what I understand...nerves take a long time to heal. The doctor told me not to be discourage, but I know it is hard not to feel that way. Every day I feel like this is something I'm going to have to live with forever! But I'm hoping that it will get better. One week post op I was in MUCH more pain that before surgery. Today, I'm in pain, but I can function with just advil. Good luck and hang in there!
  • WhenI woke up after surgery I was very upset that it hurt so much worse. 5 weeks later now and I have turned the corner.... my pain is still there but has receded to about a 2. At night it flares up since I tend to be a restless sleeper and I think I aggravate it.

    Deep breathes... and hang in there. It WILL get better. And walk as much as your body will let you,.. but don't push it to hard to quick. Keep us updated, and take it from one who shared your pain,... it does improve. One day you'll wake up and say: Ahhhhhhh! :D

  • Thanks for all the replies. I got my stitches out today so psychologically feel like I'm making some progress. Pain is now more under control thanks to an increased dose of gapabentin and oxycodone! For the first time I have had 2 hours of 2-3 level pain which was fantastic!

    I'll have to make a decision between pain killers and champagne for my wedding. Hmmm.... I wonder which I will go for.... ;)

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  • I was experirncing about an 8 on the ten scale at pre-op and after surgery my pain was immediately gone. Now 5 days out I'am beginning to feel sopme pain down the sciatic trail maybe a 2 on the scale. Yesterday I accidentally isolated my back muscles and caused pain along the sciatic trail. It sudbsided, but today it seems to be constant. I wonder if I have caused any permanant insult to my healing wounds?

  • I did that several times during the first 3 weeks. They told me not to bend, but that I could squat if I needed to. Apparently I did it wrong, and isolated the back muscles. It felt just a tiny bit sore after ward, but then for the next day or two I was flat on my back. But it didn't last, and now (5 1/2 weeks out), I'm bending and twisting like normal (maybe a bit more cautiously) with no major problems. I can still feel a sciatic twinge if I bend a little too far or too fast, but generally it's ok.

    I'd just be extra careful for the next few weeks until you Dr. says you're good to go... but I doubt you did anything permanent. if it doesn't ease up after a day or two or gets worse,... call the Dr. Don't wait.
  • Definitely the drugs LOL.....

    I hope you are feeling great by then!
  • Sciatic pain now under control (largely due to the pain killers I think) but I've now got new pain in my lower back around the op site. It is like I can feel my vertabrae moving about and the muscles tightening - very unpleasant!
    Can anyone relate to this?

  • hi Fly

    I can remember posting here with pain on the op site and on the opposite side after surgery and being worried...but it all settled down.

    The muscle tightening does cause pain i reckon.

    Don't panic...its amazing how much it can settle down after a while (but i reckon this varies from person to person)...but for me, it took a good 6 weeks for me to feel like i was making good progress.
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