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L5/S1 Discectomy 3 Weeks post op

BrendenBrenden Kalamazoo, Michigan, USAPosts: 10
Hello everyone,

I'm rather new here and, firstly, want to thank everyone for sharing stories of their experiences in order to help others going through similar situations. I am 29 and am currently recovering from a discectomy performed on 3/18/16 for a sizable protrusion in my L5/S1 disc and I could use some encouragement and advice. I am a little over 3 weeks into recovery, and the good news is, the surgery went smoothly, and the nerve pain I was experiencing pre-op is now at a minimum. A flare up every now and then but nothing like it was.  I can actually get a full night's sleep now and wake up without the god awful pain in my left hip and buttock.  However, recovery is rougher than I expected, more so mentally than physically. Being off of work, bored all day, wishing I wasn't in pain, and freaking out over every jolt or spasm of pain thinking something went wrong is weighing heavily on my levels of anxiety. 

I am also still having quite a bit of post surgical pain in my back and surrounding muscles in my hips and legs, especially after being active. I usually have to take one 7.5/325 Norco per day and Ibuprofen 800 and flexerile as needed. I'm kind of disheartened because I wanted to be off of the narcotics all together by now because I am terribly afraid of becoming physically dependent on them. I'm not worried about an all out addiction as I do not abuse them and only take them for pain as needed. But risk of physical dependence makes me terribly anxious. 

One of my questions is, how long did it take for your surgical pain to settle down to a level that you could "live normally" again? 

Secondly, can anyone help to settle my nerves a bit about my fear of becoming dependent on the Norco?

Any and all advice is welcome.


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,270
    I would think three weeks post op not too long of time. You may benefit from more patience with yourself. :)

    Not sure, but you may find helpful to read post...Recovery the Most Important Phase.
    You can find with search on this site, upper right on page.

    You state you are concerned about continuing your pain med. Please share all your feelings with doctor for his guidance and or reassurance.
    Often times, when the pain subsides, you will not even think about the pain meds.

    Please also share your feelings of anxiety. Sometimes the fast and furious thinking needs a rest for your body to rest, also. This may pass as you recover, so any treatment could be during this transition ...just to get you over this bump in life.

    You mentioned being bored all day. It may be helpful to read the post...The Blend. Also can be found with SH search.
    Its more of a concept of caring for your pain with total reliance on medication.
    When I read it, it gave me ideas that fit my personality..that I used to distract myself from the pain.
    Very helpful to me!

    Very best with your continued recovery! 
    Please continue to keep us posted!

    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • cspencer13ccspencer13 CaliforniaPosts: 37
    I was the same as you at 3 weeks.....that was my completely stressed out stir crazy week. I had a fusion at l5 s1.

    I'm 5 1/2 weeks out now and I can tell you, it gets better. I'm a really active person and I don't normally take pain meds at all. But I am trying very hard to be easy on myself because this surgery is a big deal, so I want it to work!I keep that idea in my head when I feel like I want to do more.

    I also was really stressed about meds, and you are taking WAY LESS than me! At 3 weeks, I was taking 3 doses a day (I'm on Roxicontin) and occasionally taking Valium at night. That 3 week point also seemed to be a bit of a "pain plateau" for me. I tried to cut back and it didn't work. I was frustrated and worried.............but I just went with it. It was a week or so more before I was able to cut out another dose. I'm down to two a day now, and it's progress, so I figure I'll be totally done in a week or so. I try to remind myself I've had progress AND I haven't had any withdrawal symptoms when I cut dosages, so that's good. 

    Hang in there. I bet in a week you'll be over this hump. :)
    39y.o. mom of 4
    3/2/16 - L5/S1 fusion after a decade of trying everything else
    2015 - developed Occipical Neuralgia and bulges at C4/5 and C5/6
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  • RacinredRRacinred United StatesPosts: 47
    I am with you all. I am almost 4 weeks Fusion Cervical Spine. I have been walking alot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reading posts and staying strong thru faith, BUT i have my moments of anxiety and weekness. I agree you have to be patient with yourself! All of these surgeries are MAJOR and everyone heals differently. Talk to you doctor, meditate, and before you know it  you will be looking back and saying WOW! Look you already have positive results that's amazing! I have the same positive results. I can use my right hand! MY right arm does not go numb, my right leg doesn't miss a step now!!!!! Biggest thing for me is patience! I am having to learn it :wink:" alt=":wink:" height="20" />  Hang in there and keep us updated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • BrendenBrenden Kalamazoo, Michigan, USAPosts: 10
    Thanks for the thoughts guys. I really appreciate it. I've talked to my doctor about my anxieties and he has done a lot to reassure me as well. 

    I think it's the ups and downs that are really getting to me. I've gone two days without taking anything beside ibuprofen, but then today my pain has gotten worse. It's not sciatic pain thought, thank god, it's all in my muscular-skeletal from what I can tell. I want to stick it out a little to see if it subsides but I may have to pop a Norco. 

    I keep ttying to be to be patient with myself and remind myself that I'm only three and a half weeks out, but in my mind it feels like it's been so  much longer. 

  • I definitely know the feeling! Some days it feels like you are over the worst of it, and then some you feel like you just stepped back a whole week. Ultimately I think you gotta remember that your nerve(s) have been through a hell of a lot, they are manipulated a lot in that surgery and they were probably compressed for a long time before that. It will take time to settle.
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