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5+ months post op struggles

Mickey72MMickey72 Posts: 5
edited 10/07/2015 - 4:47 AM in Recovering from Surgery
hi everyone. I'm new to the forums- posted about a week ago but didn't show up, maybe user error. Anyway I'm struggling in my recovery and looking to vent and possibly some words of wisdom. My history ( I'll try to be brief )- Injured back in my teens lifting dock on uneven ground. nothing more than a couple days off my feet. Fast forward to early twenties, new job, manual labor. Start experiencing occasional bouts of lower back pain/stiffness. I tried back belts, nsaids, heat wraps with some relief. Ocurrences increased with several rounds of pt and muscle relaxers per my PCP. My insurance would not authorize MRI until I was 33. MRI showed beginnings of DDD with slight bulge at l4-l5. More pt and muscle relaxers and the rest of what I mentioned every time it flared up. Started to be in everyday pain but was manageable. This all continued with increased pain levels and less relief until 7/2014. I was 42. Stepped out of vehicle, felt a strong twinge in my back, and was visibly crooked from the waist up and in extreme pain. PCP referred me to Neurosurgeon. New MRI showed herniated l4-l5-s1 with progressed DDD. More pt, ESI's and trigger point injections. Limited relief. This happened (lumbar shift?) 2 more times in the next 6 months. Prescribed Norco 7.5/325 which helped and in 2/2015 NS said " do you want to keep putting a band aid on, or fix the problem?" I opted for surgery and in 04/2015 had 2 level anterior/posterior fusion with rod,screws,cage. No complications. Sent home with 2 week supply of oxycodone 30mg 4-6x day. Medications have gone down to oxycodone 20mg, then to Percocet 10/325, then 5/325 and my last script was for hydrocodone 10/325. Flexeril 5mg all along. Here is my main issue: pre-surgery, all my pain was in lower back and left leg. Since my 2 week follow up, I have told whoever will listen I now have little to no pre-op symptoms on my left side. What I do have since almost day 1 post-op is varying intensities of pain in my tailbone, right hip and right glute areas. DR said ct scan @ 3 months looked good, I was fusing. Started pt @ 3 months. Therapists, DR, and PA's said it is all normal, part of the healing process, and it,s going to be like this for a while. I just cant stop thinking somethings wrong. Since 3 month mark, Ive had 4 separate days of little to no pain at all. I'm very aware of those days because they are rare. The other days, the pain varies from manageable/tolerable to pre-surgery levels. Theres no rhyme or reason to it. I try to use all pain relief techniques; ice, heat, walking, stretching, meds. I have not taken any opiods in almost two weeks. I have my 6 month f/u in a couple of days and am reluctant to bring up pain meds to him, although they've been good about it to this point. I feel they work well when I'm having a bad stretch and cant get on top of the pain. I also want to revisit the whole opposite side pain issue again. The frequency of bad days is getting less, but the pain on those days is not. I'm sorry for ranting and I hope someone can relate and maybe respond.


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    welcome to spine-health
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  • frankiegrl7ffrankiegrl7 Posts: 5
    edited 10/08/2015 - 3:55 PM
    Hi Mickey72...my surgery was less intense than yours (microdiscectomy at L4/L5 - 3 weeks post-op) so I can't relate to the continued pain, etc. but I can tell you about my PT. I was referred for PT during my hospital stay prior to surgery (was not a planned surgery - went into ER, ended up with surgery). The therapist came once and then it was a weekend and then he was on holidays :) however, after surgery it is common practice for a PT and OT to clear you prior to being able to be discharged. PT came to see me 3 days post -op and didn't feel I was ready and we re-visited it 3 days later. During her initial visit, she showed me how to lay in bed, how to roll over and how to get in and out of bed. My Neurosurgeon upon discharge explained to me that PT was fine as long as it was "very light" and did not involve my core, anything beyond that was off limits and we could discuss PT concerning my core after my 6 week follow up. I have had 2 visits at home from the PT and she has given me small exercises to do ie. sitting calf raises (because I can't raise my weight onto my toes), leg raises from knee down with a log under my knee. It has helped a lot. I do them about 1-2 times a day and as they become easier I increase how long I do them for or the reps. She has given me about 5 all together. We discussed more PT after the 6 weeks and I will see her on an outpatient basis once cleared from the Neurosurgeon and for the purpose of bridging my current condition to the workouts I was doing at the gym, which all involved functional movement. So focussing on squatting properly, lifting properly, how and when to increase my weights and what it should feel like when I have basic soreness from healthy exercise and what pain is. Just not comfortable moving on in life doing things how I used to because I am terrified of re-injury and there's a reason I ended up here in the first place.

    Hope that's somewhat insightful! Will look forward to any updates!
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  • Had my 6 mo follow up and explained the hip, low back, butt pain Im having on the RIGHT side. Again, everything pre surgery was on left side. Told the PA walking was difficult and very painful at times. Also getting in and out of bed. Waddling around like before surgery. Again I asked if this was "normal" at this stage of recovery and if they've seen other cases with new pain on the opposite side after surgery. Up until this visit I was told I was still healing and to expect some pain. He told me at this point it's unusual to have the amount of discomfort I am describing and that they want me to discontinue PT, and they are ordering new CT and MRI. Need to wait for insurance authorization. Gave me a steroid pack ( which i finished with some relief) and a few weeks of pain meds. I just have this bad feeling something is not right; the pain is very familiar to what I was dealing with pre-surgery. The scans hopefully give a definite answer as to whats going on ( good or bad), but the waiting is killing me. I dont want to go through this again.
  • ShelleyazSShelleyaz Posts: 63
    edited 10/21/2015 - 4:43 AM
    Have you tried going in and seeing your primary doctor and having a talk? When I had a deviated septum surgery that failed my primary doctor acknowledged and redirected me to another doctor. Perhaps a primary doctor could give you some encouragement or direction.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • Mickey72MMickey72 Posts: 5
    edited 10/30/2015 - 3:03 AM
    Thanks for the feedback frankiegrl7 and shelleyaz. Had new mri last week along with ct/ follow up with surgeon yesterday. Im just about 6.5 months post op and as stated before have had ongoing pain in my right hip/ glute/ leg for awhile now that has gotten significantly worse over the past month. Odd thing is all symptoms pre op were on left side and have disappeared since surgery. Well, doc says fusion looks great, has progressed significantly, hardware is in place. No herniations. Great news. His answer for current symptoms is scar tissue has grown around a nerve and is pinching it off. Good to finally have an answer, but we're back to square one. Going to have more esi's and facet joint injections. Had esi's pre op with no relief on left side but am willing to try again. Never had the facet injections before. Meanwhile the pain continues. Relief comes from ice/heat, walking and pain meds. Doc says worst case scenario he can go in and free up the nerve but I told him I'm not interested in more surgery. He said neither is he thats why we're going with injections. More surgery to remove scar tissue creates more scar tissue. He's optimistic this will be successful. I hope so. He told me up front before surgery that he could not guarantee me no pain. He did give me 90 % odds he could reduce my pain at the problem site (l4 l5 s1) and stabilize my back, which i believe he did. This current situation is something he's seen before and is not uncommon after surgery. He has also ok'd return to pt with modified exercises. Again thanks for any feedback.
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  • Hi Micki, I'm so sorry to hear you're back at square one I feel like I'm in the same place as you with having a microdiscetomy in April and it not working and now I'm facing a ALIF fusion with posterior screws. I feel like we try to fix one problem and it just creates another. And our situation is exactly what I was afraid of going in. I truly hope the injections work for you and I'm sorry you didn't get the relief you were hoping for.

    Take care, Maria
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