I was diagnosed with DDD at L4-S1 at 34 years old. At first, the pain in the backs and sides of my legs was intermittent and stopped at the calf. After three years, however, the pain (aching, burning) was almost constant and went into the bottoms of both feet (worse between the calf and heel). Over this same period, MRI's/CT showed more compression of the central spine and nerve roots.
I tried the conservative treatments, but finally decided to have a laminectomy in 2006. My legs felt great for a couple weeks after surgery, but the pain quickly returned to presurgical levels (and worse). An EMG ordered by by surgeon came back normal.
I recently had a revision fusion (translateral with instrumentation). I was told that the lamina had regrown to an inch thick! Again, my pain relief was almost complete after surgery. Now, 10 weeks later, the pain feels very much like it did before surgery (same quality, intensity, location). When I asked about this at my 6 week follow up, I was told it was still early considering the surgery (cutting through the inch of gnarled scar and bone).
My question is whether "it's still early" is still a reasonable explanation for my pain? How long might one expect nerve pain to linger after decompression? I'm starting to think my leg pain is unrelated to my back. What other conditions should I know about? A little hope would be nice, but reality is more important to me. It's disheartening to recover from two surgeries, missing months of work, only to learn they didn't work. A new path to explore would at least give me something productive to think about. Thanks!
I would suggest trying alternative medications like gabapentin or pergabalin (lyrica) which can help neuropathic type pain.
Another option is to have some physical therapy if your surgeon allows it at this time.
Aquatherapy is an excellent therapy option.
UPDATE: I met with my surgeon today (12 weeks post-surgery) and asked about my leg pain. He told me that my nerves are probably still inflamed and irritable. He also believes weaning from long-term narcotic use may have something to do with the recent increase in pain.
Don't get me wrong, I love and trust my surgeon. He has an excellent reputation and my experience with him has been nothing but positive. The long and short of our chat today was that we just wouldn't know until the healing was complete and the pain meds were out of the picture. I believe that, but it doesn't give my mind much to do but worry. Would appreciate any thoughts.
Another update... My pain doctor did, in fact, prescribe Lyrica when I last saw him. My insurance denied it, however, and I ended up with Neurontin (Gabapentin). I was sleeping better after only a couple days and my pain was significantly reduced in less than a week. Still not sure about the surgery, but the Neurontin is working very well for me. Thanks!
medications isn't best solution for your pain,as you can't take it for long term. What is your pain cause? I think :it's soft tissue inflammation around lower back area. try deep and intensive acupuncture fot it,you can feel different.
I agree that meds aren't the long term answer, but I'm focused on the next 3 months. I'm told that's when I'll know if the surgery was successful in decompressing the nerves (if that's really the problem). Of course I'm hoping the pain goes away, but it's much too much like it was before both the first and second surgeries. I'm not resigned to failure, but I suspect that's where this is headed. Positive thoughts, right?
I think you're right on about the inflammation. Before my pain doc started the Neurontin, my surgeon prescribed a Medrol dose pack (steroids) and it helped a lot, but only for a week (if that). I hadn't thought of acupunture as an alternative anti-inflammatory, but I'll check it out. Thanks!
I'm ready to try some Aquatherapy too. Last time I checked (a couple years ago), floating weightless was very effective in relieving the pain. Haven't felt up to it until now, but community rec center here I come.
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