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L5S1 Microdiscectomy Post-Op 1 Week

Hi

I initially had severe pain on my left butt cheek and hamstring, but it eventually turned into numbness and spread out to my left foot and right big toe.  I had an MRI and it showed that I had a pretty severe herniation mainly on the left side and they recommended surgery.  

The doctor said that he was going in through the left side to remove the hardened disc material and said that he might have to remove some of the right side of the vertebrae depending on the herniation.  He did have to go to the right side.  He also mentioned that my nerve was pink instead of white.  

Post-op, the wound area hurt obviously, but I still had numbness on my left leg.  The right big toe seems to be back to normal though.  It's been a week and pain seems to be subsiding.  I still can't sit well so I mainly stand or lay (only on my sides).  After surgery, I was working from home on a laptop and I stand all day so now my feet hurt a lot and I get pretty exhausted that when I lay down, I fall asleep very quickly.  

I also try to walk around the house, but it isn't much since I'm pretty exhausted standing all day.  I guess I should walk around more...

Has anyone experienced this numbness?  I guess my expectation that I'd have feeling was a bit unfair, but I'm wondering if the surgery helped or not.  I suppose it did since my spinal nerve isn't compressed...  
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1

Comments

  • dajonxddajonx PhillyPosts: 10
    I had my one week follow-up (it was supposed to be a two week follow-up, but whatever...) and the PA (physician's assistant) said that the numbness was expected since the nerve is still irritated and trying to recover.  She told me to walk a lot and continue to take Mobic and Gabapentin.  I'm also getting more mobile and able to sit, but for short periods.  The incision area is really itchy and I feel pretty stiff.  

    I walked around a lot during the weekend and I was spent.  I felt like I had no endurance and took a nap whenever I can.  I suppose that's expected.  
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 996

    Hey James...

    Different levels of numbness one week after surgery is pretty normal.  It's most likely your nerves firing off due the prior irritation and inflammation.  Recovery of the nerves is a VERY slow process so be patient. I'm surprised you can stand so much... but the fact that you can is good.  Go walk walk walk... it's one of the best things you can do to help your healing. 

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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  • dajonxddajonx PhillyPosts: 10
    Thank you, Harry.  

    Yeah, I have noticed that my after-effects have been mild compared to others.  I'm very grateful for that.  

    Now that I'm back in the office, all I'm doing is standing, walking, and squatting (when I need to pick something up)!  
  • dajonxddajonx PhillyPosts: 10
    It's been about a month since surgery and my leg and feet are still pretty numb.  I've been weaning myself off of gabapentin and stopped taking meloxicam, but noticed more nerve pain when I sit.  I've also started physical therapy, but will be ending that soon due to insurance.  I'm actually not sure what's causing the nerve pain...  The weaning of the meds or the PT?  

    Any insight/guesses?  

    Does anyone have any strengthening program that's been helping?

    Thanks!


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 996

    James

    According to my doctor the numbness is usually the last thing to go away in the nerve healing process... it always seems to take the longest.  There is also a chance it will not go away and that particular nerve damage is permanent.  That is what I'm faced with in regards to the numbness accross the bottom of my right foot.  Hopefully your's will go away with time.

    I found swimming was the best form of back muscle and core strength rebuilding for me.  However be sure you doctor clears you to do so before you jump in as swimming tends to violate the 'T" in no BLT.

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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  • dajonxddajonx PhillyPosts: 10
    Thanks, Harry.  What's BLT?

    So it's been like six months post-op and I still have numbness.  I know that it is an extremely slow healing process with a chance that it is permanent.  

    Does your lower back hurt in the mornings?  Mine has, but gets better as the day progresses.  I was wondering if that goes away or is it something that will occur for the rest of my life?  

    I have been working on my core and overall my body by lifting.  I'm at around my old self (not like I was that strong to begin with), but looking to progress further.  
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 451
    BLT - bending lifting twisting.  Something us spineys need to be mindful of for the rest of our lives!  Glad you're seeing some progress :)
  • michaelrchmmichaelrch Bern, SwitzerlandPosts: 36
    Yes, the recovery of the nerve takes ages. If you have motor function then the numbness ought to wear off eventually. 

    Just a note on standing for work. I was doing this and really pleased that I could get back to work 4 weeks after my op. I started slow and built up from there. I then did a ton of exercise at 6 weeks, which was a big mistake, but the coup de gras was spending about 4 hours on my feet (on and off) 5 days after that damage while my back was still hurting. It left my lower back really shot with soft tissue damage for weeks ( 4 weeks out and I am still having to rest a lot while it gets better). So if you do get a flare up of some kind from activity, I strongly recommend you stay off your feet (apart from short periods and walks) until the flare up is completely passed, else it all gets a bit grim. I basically put myself back at least 6 weeks back, and I am sure it was the standing on already inflamed tissue that made it much worse. Tragic really as i was really getting on fine standing for 60-90 mins straight before my f-up!
    I am sure you won't make the same mistake but I thought I should share my experience all the same just in case you found yourself on the same path. HTH 

  • dajonxddajonx PhillyPosts: 10
    Thanks Smartens and Michael!

    I guess I'm violating the "B" and the "L"...  

    When my hammy does start to feel pretty numb and uncomfortable, I start standing and it seems to feel better.  

    I don't know if you've used this when you were standing for work, but these soft foam mats really help.  Also, I've noticed that I tend to slouch forward a little to work so I raised the desk higher and engage my core a little which helps.  For me, core workouts are key for me.  

    The really annoying part of my journey through this is the mornings when my lower back pain is the worst and it hurts when I have to bend over a little to rinse my mouth from brushing my teeth and stuff.  I wonder if I'm sleeping wrong?  
  • michaelrchmmichaelrch Bern, SwitzerlandPosts: 36
    Lol. My trick for avoiding bending when doing teeth is to drink from and spit into a cup! Anything else is up and down at the knees!

    Re the sleeping, yes this is a tricky one for me. I have switched mattresses as the last one was too hard. I have stopped sleeping on my side for now (even though that was perfect before my 'incident'), I have tried with pillows under my legs. That worked for a while but in the end I was in that position so long (during the day as well) that the pressure directly into my lower back started hurting grrr! Now I am just on my back and concentrated on staying relaxed.

    If you wake up with lower back pain even before you start moving around, then I would start experimenting with different positions and angles with your legs, lower back etc. Tedious but waking up in pain is depressing sooo.

    My doctor got me to sleep with Valium. It's not perfect but it kinda helps as a muscle relaxant and to dampen down anxiety. I decided to stop it as soon as I could though as it is stupidly easy to get dependent on it. I halved my dose then went without last night for the first time in 11 days. I woke up a couple of times but got back to sleep and felt reasonable this morning so I think I got away with it :)

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