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Post surgery recovery - L5-S1 microdiskectomy, S1 Laminectomy
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Post surgery recovery - L5-S1 microdiskectomy, S1 Laminectomy

Hi all--I got so much good info from this forum PRIOR to my surgery, I want to chronicle my recovery for others to learn from, too.  Thanks to all who have posted before me--your experience and your advice helped me prepare for my procedure and recovery.  Thank you.

--Hours 1-12 post-op---->  Pain Rx, intravenously--Dilaudid.  I was on PCA pump, a dose every ten minutes if needed.  Needed to pee a lot because the IV fluids and also I drank a lot of water--the anesthesia and pain Rx left me with cotton-mouth.  It was difficult to pee, which is to say, I didn't have the muscle control at first.  (The muscles were still "asleep", I guess.)  I did quite a bit of walking from bed to potty, which made my wound bleed.  My bandages had to be changed twice.  I had a hard time learning how to log roll the first few times.  ADVICE--The BEST way to get up and down from a sitting pos'n is to place all your weight on your HEELS--it forces your back to be straight and makes all your leg muscles work, taking the strain off your back.  Place your feet shoulder apart and point your toes out like a duck.  It helps--A LOT.  Or at least it did for me.

--Hours 12-24 post-op----> Pain Rx was changed to Toridol, by injection.  IV Rx changed to Morphine, PCA every 10 mins as needed.  The Dilaudid and anesthesia coming out of my body made me ITCHY!!!!  So I got benadryl in my IV to stop the itching.  Slept for a few hours, then woke up at 4am and couldnt get back to sleep.  Did a lil more walking, but not as much as the previous 12 hours.  Appetite was back with a venegence!  ;-D  Only hit the Morphine twice in the 12-24hour period--and once was just because it was there and I couldnt fall asleep!  LOL  But right before leaving the hospital 24 hrs post-op, I hit it three times in 30 mins because I had about a 30 min car ride ahead of me and just wanted the little extra pharmaceutical help for the ride.   Oh yeah--they gave me Colace to help loosen my stool and also IV antibiotics before I left.  (I started passing gas in the 12-24 hrs post op.)

--Day 2, post-op-----> Consitpation.  Not a lot of surgical or incision pain at this point.  Insomnia again at about 4 am.  (That has GOT to stop LOL!)  Got out and about at the grocery store.  Went to have lunch at pizza joint.  Was a lil scary at the grocery--wearing the brace under my clothes where people can't see it makes me nervous--afraid to get bumped or jostled, esp with lil kids running around.  Hypersenstivity to "touch", which is to say, I don't want people touching me, even my loved ones.  I just want to be "left alone" in that way.  I dont want hugs and I dont want hand or arm rubbing--my body is already hypersensitive at this point, I don't want more nerves "on alert."  (Ordinarily, tho, I am a touchy-feely person...but the last couple of days I just want to be left ALONE!)  Oh yeah, I am on Darvocet as needed for pain.  I took one before bed last nite, one this afternoon at lunch.  Took one just now (approx 2.5 days post-op) because muscle spasms are kicking in.  Dont know if its because I was sitting in chair awkwardly or because I couldnt get comfy sleeping on my back so i slept on side w/pillow tucked between knees for a couple hours.  in any casse, standing is best right now.

This is my experience so far.  Oh yeah, the smallest movements are the hardest (like, scooching into a car seat sideways, or up or down on the pillows to get comfy.)  If you have any advice or questions, feel free to post.  I'd be happy to offer any help and/or welcome advice.  

All in all, thus far, the recovery is fine.  I feel ok (considering) and the pain is really just localized.  And now it's time to get up because I've been sitting in this chair for waaay too long!  :-)

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31 Comments Post a Comment
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171791_tn?1358217981
I have 2 herniated disc.  L5-S1herniation encroaching on the lateral recesswith what appears to be disc material immediately adjacrnt to the right S1 nerve root.  Facet joint tropism at several levels most at L50S1 Mild circumferential disc protusion at L4-5 slightlymore marked on right.   This is per MRI report.  Also Spondylosis with disc desiccatioon at nultiple levels.  Suppose to have surgery by end of week per my dr.  Which I go to surgeon Wed.  Is this something like what you had on your MRI?  I have buttocks and leg pain on right side and foot stays cold.  Also veins have broke in back of thigh.  Please get back with me.  nuggetone
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey there!  Sorry to hear you are in such pain.  The good news is, your doc is helping you find a way to get relief.  HANG IN THERE!  :D

I did not have Spondy., nor did I have multi-level herniation.  (I'm told mine was just really, really "big", as in--a LOT of disc material.  My surgeons were very good about explaing and showing me everything on MRI ina way I could understand it.)

I had the same buttock/leg pain but only on the left side, as the protrusion was on my left side.   No vein issues for me.  My feet are cold since the surgery (3 days ago) but i attribute that to healing and my body working extra hard to heal my lower back, so of course, my circulation, although normal, may be a little off in my lower legs/feet.  (go figure--I just had major surgery on my lower back! LOL)

What are your questions/concerns?  Maybe I can help?  I'm not a doctor, but maybe I can at least help you be a little less anxious.  My experience continues to be a good one, and I will be happy to share any information/experience I have with you.  

Take care of yourself and in the meanwhile, write down all your questions for the surgeon before your appt and do as much research as you can.  These forums are great for that.  Talk soon!

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171791_tn?1358217981
i find it weird that today I have no pain, just a little tender in right buttocks area.  Even when I cough it dont hurt.  What's up.  I have rested alot but does that mean if I went back to same ol routine that the hurting will begin again?  Did this happen to you?   Just wondering.  I do have questions for surgeon.  Like I said I go see him Wed.   nuggetone
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a diskectomy & laminectomy about 11 weeks ago. Recovery has been very slow. I am now able to get around ok but if I do too much, later that night I have a hard time walking. I was given exercises to strengthen my muscels but when I do them I'm shot for the day. I have tried to speak with the doctor but he will not see any patients until 90 days after surgey. I am now experiencing burning in my right leg and pain in my back on the same side, up till now the pain has always been on my left. Is this normal? Is this just another step in the healing process?
Any insight to how long the healing normally takes would be a great help.    teacher19
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Avatar_n_tn
I had an extensive  l5 s1 laminectomy and foranotomy for a very large rt sided herniation on 3/10/08. Experienced excruciating pain and spasms in my right buttock, exc. pain in back of leg and behind rt knee, outside calf, right ankle and numbness on outer side of foot. Since surgery, I feel no pain at all. Did not require pain medication but still taking muscle relaxers but do not think I really need any. started walking on 3/11/08 and was up to 3 miles per day by the 7th day post opt but told to back off by the home nurse so I am back to about 1 mile. Only problem is some painless swelling at the bottom of my incision - kinda looks like a small egg when I stand. not a big deal but I don't like how it looks so will cover this with the dr when I see him on 3/24. hang in there
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Avatar_n_tn
Just a surgery on L5 S1 (laminectomy). Dr. told my husband it took longer than exspected due to i was worse than he thought it would be. I had a cyst that calsified around bones and nerve. My question to anyone is, Is it normal to be told to remain flat till the 3 week check-up? It seems impossible being I have a 1yr old.  Plus, I'm a bank teller and on my feet, and lefting coin boxs all day, how long is it till I'm back to my daily tasks?
Any help will be gladly welcome!!!

Thanks: Mz.Aaby 4-13-08
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Avatar_n_tn
I can't type out all the big words.Friday the 20th because systems were breaking down fast I went to the DR at 2;15 and was out of surgery at 7pm.

The fires are gone from my r calf, ankle, buttock, big toe,. basically I am in no pain but I get tired quickly.

I still have no sphincter but was told will come back after swelling goes down.

TAKE 3 or 4 different kinds of socks with you; your feet can't decide if they are hot cold itchy

Doing well on percecet every 6 hours.

talkingtoolbox
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251991_tn?1239299630
My Doc is having me have a disc protrusion Thursday, has anyone had to have that prior to beibg fixed? He is trying to find out if all my pain which is lower back,right butt, lrg to calf and foot, or if it is due to a deform in my L5 from a past fracture, I have been in pain for a yr and 2 months now, the past week i can no longer walk,stand,sit or situp and nor can i hardley go pee it hurts so bad in by buttock, its crazy! Has anyone been like me? My bonescan scan showed hotspots in SI Joints an right hip i have had steroid injections in si 2 times, right hip joint today,facet joint and a complete nerve ablasion last yr. none of it helped. Anyway the disc protrusion will tell if i need fusion done.
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251991_tn?1239299630
ERROR- I GUESS IT IS CALLED DISCOGRAPH, IF YOU GO TO COLUMBIA ORTHOPAEDIC GROUP THEY HAVE VIDEOS OG ALL PROCEDURES AND PROBLEMS IT IS A NIC WEBSITE TO SEE WHAT YOU WILL BE GOING THROUGH. IT IS COLUMBIA ORTHOPAEDIC GROUP IN COLUMBIA MISSOURI, REALLY HANDY MATEREAL.
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Avatar_n_tn
had l5 surgey done on 08-04-08 .pain is minimal but i,m still feeling weak.i get the jimmy legs at night and cant keep my left leg from flinching. but my main concern is my left but cheek is still numb right by my ffistuala and i have a hard time getting an erection.is this common because of the operation and i,m just tying to fast or is this something i should look into. i would also like any advice on any post-op rehab anyone could offer. going back to work after my first dr. visit next week 09-02-08 thanks anyone
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Avatar_m_tn
I just had surgery on my back L5-S1, im still feeling pain and numbness on my left leg, my question is, is it normal to have pain after surgery? how long is the recovery process for the inside of my body to heal?
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The following is a list of surgeries I had: I still have leg pain and I am goig in for a Fusion for my L5 - S1 on the 30th hoping it will help with the pain. I am tired of taking all these drugs and will try anythiing for the pain just to stop and lighten up. Most all back surgeries take about a full year to heal, don't let anyone tell you different. I find wallking right away helps you, take little steps at a time, but don't just sit around thinking the pain will go away by itself and keep taking these damm drugs...

The drugs only take the edge off and remember, you will get hooked on them. Make sure you have a Great Doctor and Make sure you have a Pain Dactor as well. He will be the one giving you your Heavy drugs and helping you with your pain.....Good luck to all with you back problems, I know what you are all dealing with, and I know everyone is different and dealing with there own pain....But get out there and walk more than anything.

My e-mail is ***@**** if I can help you with any other information, I am NOT a Doctor, I am an Author of a new novel called A Big house for Little Men - but I have been through my share of surgeries and Back Pain - Also if anyone wishes to read my new novel out there visit my website at www.abighouseforlittlemen.com or visit www.Barnesandnoble.com and see the reviews.

Here are the following surgeries I have had..

Good luck to all and God Bless,
Michael W. McKay

April 1999 Lumbar Diskectomy L -5  S-1- By Dr. Ronald Warren - Boston

September 2006 C 5-6 Neck Surgery Cut Bone out of right hip – By Dr Rydel - (Failed Fusion) Florida

June 2008 Surgery on C 4 5 6 7 with plate installed – By Dr. Small, F.O.I. Florida

April 2009 T 9 – 10 Laminotomy Diskectomy – By Dr. Small - , F.O.I. Florida

April 2009 Lower Back L -1, S 5 Laminotomy Diskectomy – By Dr. Small - , F.O.I. Florida

Aprial 30th -  Let's hope for the best with this Fusion - By Dr. Small - , F.O.I. Florida
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi guys,

I had a discectomy at L5-S1 four weeks ago. I must say the recovery has been quiet good. I had pain throughout the entire period with slight improvements everyday. For the last twentyfour hours I must say I have experienced a slight increase in pain while lying down. I d put this down to a slight increase in activity during the day of the onset.
I can report the pain directly after the operation being much less and the only pain I can report was that associated with site of the operation. Very bloody bad too I must say. After the op the referred pain was still present but reduced. Anyway I guess Im back on reading these sites due to the recent onset of pain. I hope this is the norm. Other than this my life has improve since the op. Please comment if you had a mild agravation during your operation recovery? Also If anybody has any question feel free to hit me.

Thanks,
Brokeback Garry from Australia
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Avatar_m_tn
I had a lamminotomy ten days ago. They removed a spur at L4 and found a herniated disc L5 S1 which was reinserted. Prior to the operation I had excruciating pain on my Left hip and going down to my knee. I also experienced numbness and tingling from the hip to the bottom  of my foot.Prior to the surgery I could not sit at all without developing excruciating pain when I sat and stood up. Now it's more than a week after surgery and I've started to experience the same symptoms as before. I haven't talked directly to the surgeon since surgery but I was told by his assistant it may be due to pressure from the surgical site. Has anybody had recurring symptoms like this after having the surgery?  What should I discuss with the surgeon? Ice packs are my life now. any suggestions?
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a L5-S1 laminectomy for herniated disc with root compression...seems simple enough to me compared to those that have had fusions and such. I had gotten to where I was unable to sit, stand or walk with the pain radiating from my groin down to my left foot. After many doctors and procedures, I finally sat at the pain management place and cried, refusing to leave until they recommended an MRI...needless to say, I was schedule for surgery the next week when I met the neurosurgeon. The surgery went fine, I guess, and I had a really hard time moving afterwards but figured it was normal. (having to have 2 people literally move my hips to move) On my 6th day home, I was taken to the ER at 2am with a spasm, from my groin to my NUMB COLD foot, that just would NOT quit! After pain and steroid shot, it sort of relaxed. All that drama has calmed down a bit with taking SOMA, but I still have this cold, numb foot that just feels really weird to walk on or feel! I have the mild "almost a cramp" in my calves every now and then, but its my foot that is bothering me!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am 29 yr old woman who had the L5-S1 fused back in 2005.  Needless to say, I had extreme sensitivity,spasms, and pain for about 6-7 months from my ribs to my abs, and all the way around to my back and legs after my sugery.  The sensitivity did lessen but the pain did not.  It was hard to move around for a long time as it still is for me now.

Overall, my symptoms never really went away.  I had a degenerated disk and sponylisthesis.  I have problems with my pedicles getting gnarled, joint pain in the spine, and fluid that built up around the spine.  What the fluid is from is beyond me.  

But yes, I have all my symptoms (stabbing, shooting, burning, aching in my middle back, lower back, hips, butt, thighs, calves and feet: don't forget the nummies and tingles too) and for me personally, I do not think that surgery has made my situation better.  It's hard to get comfortable, it's hard to sleep, and I do rely on a lot of heavy narcotics for relief, as well as ice, hot baths, and massages, I've tried it all from injections, to epidurals, physical therapy, meds, surgery, pain management.  But I am still trying to find someone to help me find relief and deal with this pain.  Its a very hard struggle, frustrating, and depressing (IM ONLY 29! IT BEGAN WITH AN ACCIDENT WHEN I WAS 22).
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Avatar_m_tn
As I type this I am 10 days post-surgery for L5 S1 microdiscectomy/laminectomy.  Thankfully today I am pain free, and have not required the medication for pain that started over 3 months ago.  Often I am asked how I injured my back, but I honestly cannot recall what it was that brought on the initial localized pain in my right buttock that eventually spread, traveling down my right leg over a period of 2 weeks plus.  
Basically I had what felt like a bad bruise in my right hip, burning bone-deep pain in my right thigh and cramping, right knee would have shooting pains, and a stabbing/electric bolt sensation in my right heel.  I could hardly walk or get into or out of bed due to the pain.  It would wake me up at night and was not improving after about a month so I scheduled an appointment with a specialist.

I was initially told to try physical therapy to see if that would resolve the pain. After two visits to PT and no improvement, and having to be helped out of the chair in the waiting room for my next appointment, the Doctor scheduled me for an MRI.  The results showed a herniated disc at L5 S1 and he recomended surgery.  He specializes in Microdiscectomy surgery.  Dr  Mathur in Cary, NC was my surgeon.

Waiting for a surgery date I was put on prescription meds. I took Percocet and Vicodin for the pain, typically as needed which for me at the time was 1 Vicodin every 4 hours or a Percocet every 6-8 hours, depending on how busy my day was. I tried to remain active while waiting for surgery, doing what I could around the house such as dishes.
Of course I have been unable to work since the pain meds are Narcotics, and I am an airline pilot.  Thankfully I have built up enough 'sick bank' pay to cover my loss of trip pay for the duration of this ordeal.

My surgery involved General Anesthesia. I was also catheterized before surgery, which I am glad for since post-op I was instructed to remain in the hospital overnight due to complications from a bone spur puncturing the epidural lining of my spine during the procedure.  Thankfully I did not get any tell-tale 'headaches' indicating loss of cerebral fluid from the puncture.  I was not happy about being bedridden for almost 24 hours when I was told initially that I would be going home a few hours after surgery, but thankfully I had a lot of visitors to pass the time of the unexpected overnight stay.

Post op I woke to localized burning pain in my lower back, so much that I could not, even if I tried, sit up or roll out of bed.  I was on IV fluids, and morphine every 10 minutes as needed. Initially I did not hit the morphine button, until the Percocet I was given wore off.  My appetite returned with a vengeance and I was soon woofing down hospital food to my satisfaction.  Cotton-mouth (dry mouth) was another annoying thing as it made eating difficult.

After a few hours of being on my back and the pressure on my incision, I really needed to move, just to adjust the pressure to another point. I was advised against rolling on my side which would have been awesome at the time, I recall. At 6 hours post-op it  took a Bolus shot of Morphine to relax me.  As it turns out, the PCA Morphine that was at my disposat was NOT working!  So after several hours of increasing pain from the pressure, and even the Bolus of morphine, and even two valium at midnight, I forced myself to roll onto my side by grabbing the bedrail. I finally could relax and fall asleep!

Since returning home, there have been small improvements each day over the past 10 days.  I sometimes get pains that seem similar to the pains I had prior to surgery, but they are most likely from localized swelling and me over-doing it.  I have yet to return to work but thankfully at this time I am pain free, and can sit in my computer chair and type this post.  Just a few days ago I'd be back in bed to relax and popping 2 Percocet every 5 hours or so for the pain of being up and about.  I have been waking up in the middle of the night soaking wet in sweat since surgery, which I never had a problem with prior.  Hopefully it is a side-effect of the medication, because it's getting old. Sometimes twice a night. The first time my sheets were so wet I slept on the couch after taking 2 percocet and waiting 30 minutes for them to kick in so I could get back to sleep.  

Looking forward to putting this all behind me and returning to a normal Prescription drug-free and pain free life!
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Avatar_m_tn
I am on Day 11 of L5S1 lumbar discectomy, laminectomy. I put this surgery off for a year fearing more pain and extended recovery. I though I had to write this because I just keep reading abut the problems and worsening conditions of most. I am here to tell you for me it has worked so far. After surgery I had localized pain at the incision and was very unhappy to feel my left leg was still hurting. Nowhere near pre-surgery but I expected all pain to be gone thinking we corrected the issue. I was told to wait and that the nerve is still inflamed, it was pinched for over a year, give it time, blah blah. I am very negative. I didn't need ANY pain meds post surgery. I was told by many to take them anyway to begin the healing and feel better about myself. Day 4 I was doing more than I should have been. My wife just keeps yelling at me to take it easy. She won't let me do anything but sitting in bed is way too hard. By Day 9 all pain in leg was gone and I really just have incision pain, which I was hoping would be gone by now so I can really start rehabbing. I have to say I am so happy I did the surgery. It was scary but now so worth it. I just hope I am not speaking too soon. As I said, I am very negative by nature. I feel so terrible reading these and other sites' posts. I truly believe you need a really good Dr. for this to work. I was told right before going under that mine was maybe Top 5 in the nation. What a relief to hear before being unconscious.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have an L4/5 disc protrusion pressing on the nerve root. Pain sitting and after lying down for more than 4-5 hours. Pain is in lower back and left buttock with pain in top of left foot.

I have been rushed in to see neurosurgeon as urgent case due to the nerve damage and they want to operate this week. So many forums and poeple only have horror stories and say not to do the surgery.

I am 30 year old surfer and athlete, run and exercise twice a day usually bu have been out of action for over 3 months now.

so confused - what should i do??

Australia, Sydney
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1833295_tn?1318114226
Hi,
I am a farm girl, I have horses and a training/teaching facility. I do a tremendous amount of work, though to me it isn't anything! About 4 months ago I was riding my one gelding w/an instructor from GB and she wanted us to jump a good sized fence while at the end of our reins.. (as long as our reins cld go). Well, my horse decided it was the perfect opportunity to buck and twist after the fence. So, I stayed on, but it would have been better (I think) if I had gone off. Well, immediately I knew I had pulled everything in my lower back. So, I was careful, but still did what I needed to do and was still riding about 6/7 horses a day. Well, the pain kept moving around, sort of situating itself, finally ended up to be sciatica. So, I went to my doctor to tried to get him to send me for an MRI. Of course I had to jump through the hoops of  4/5 wks of PT beforehand. So, now I have the MRI which showed quite a good herniation of L5/S1. Well, I found a GREAT Neurosurgeon here in town, he had just moved here (all good things) and he said I could have steroid shots, but that was not going to treat the seat of the problem. So, I am opting for surgery, as this doctor has had a pronominal success rate. So they set my surgery for 5 Oct.. however; there was something that came up! So, it is now set for 11 Oct. Now though, I have had too much time to think.
So my question is post op, how long does it take to say get back to me being on a horse. I know that it matters how radical the surgery is, but just a ballpark.
Thanks!
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1833295_tn?1318114226
Hi,
What did you end up doing and how are you now?

I would really love to hear!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi. I had laminectomy and discectomy on my L4/5 region a month ago.  Before that I stopped working for more than 2 months because I was in such pain from just walking. Both of my feet had stabbing pains and my thighs and calf muscles twitched all day - the most awful cramps. I tried a week of PT but it didn't do anything so I had an MRI done and true enough my nerve was being pushed by the herniated discs. I also have DDD on my spine.
Post op, the pain in my left foot is gone but my right foot still has numbness. My Ortho doctor told me that it would take time for that to go away. I can't sit for more than 30 minutes at a time (there'd be hell to pay) and can't walk for too long. I still take pregabalin everyday otherwise the pain in my thighs won't let me sleep.
As for surgery, I don't regret having it done. What I regret is waiting too long to have it checked. It started 2 years ago - spasms, tingling foot- and I just ignored it. Now it's irreversible (the DDD, that is) and I have to keep faith that things will still get better.
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Avatar_f_tn
After five years of pain in the left hip, down the left leg and into the calf and foot and five years of PT, chiropractic treatments, decompression therapy, TENS unit, acupuncture, three orthopedic surgeons, etc., etc., I finally consulted with a neurosurgeon.  He did a microdiskectomy for herniated disc and spur.  I had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis 20 years ago when I was in my 40's. Surgery was on Oct. 20, 2011.  Went home following day.  I am pain free except for incision site sensitivity with some itching and a little swelling. I take Tylenol or Advil when I need to but not every 4 hours like I did for the last few years. I am thrilled.  I did not hesitate or have any second thoughts after the surgeon showed me the herniated disc and spur on the MRI.  My next step was either a psychiatrist or driving my car over a cliff.  I thank God for this new life He has given me!
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for sharing your experiences so fully.  I understand a little of it, I think.

I don't believe there is anything more excruciating than nerve pain and my heart goes out to all of us who have felt it and live(d) with chronic pain of that sort for any length of time.  

It is like being burned alive, sent to fiery hell just for moving the 'wrong' way, without rules for what is wrong or any conservative solutions that work.  

I would do anything to avoid that pain again, I lived with it for so long it became like family. I even managed, through meditation, to ignore it for a while, willing it to go away.  But it was structural, not muscular.  It would not just ‘go away’ on its own.

I was so desperate for relief I went to see a few quacks, wasted time and money on stuff that didn’t work, that I intuitively knew wouldn’t work, but did anyway just to rule out the possibility I might get some small shred of, even if temporary, pain relief.  

I have come to the conclusion that there are a few quacks out there, but by and large there are incredibly empathic people in the health & human service professions, many just didn’t have the tools to help me with what I needed when I needed it.  Fortunately I met healers, mentors, and empathic souls too who, even if they couldn’t physically resolve my issues with their tools and techniques, emotionally connected with and supported me as I struggled to heal.  In some ways embracing that network was one of the most critical parts of my journey.  

I'm pain free right now, today.  And grateful, blessed to feel normal again.  So thankful and appreciative.  

And fully cognizant that could change tomorrow.  

So I worked my *** off to get here and want to share a window into my process with you who are hurting NOW, today.  

All bets are off, for me, as to whether that nerve pain comes back someday.  It could return after the next roll of the dice in this existence of being human and living our fates.  

It’s so basic but important to remember things happen to us that are beyond our control, and we must struggle to overcome, survive, and thrive.  Even if it takes years of swimming through liquid pain to break through the surface and be able to draw deep breaths again.  

In all of the control we try to exert on our own lives, I believe we must have hope that there will be relief from the pain eventually, to convince ourselves to get up out of bed, no matter how bad it hurts, and get to walking, moving, and simply living.  To have faith in our own conviction to stay the course, have the integrity and honesty to carry ourselves there, and find the minds, mentors, support, and perhaps even higher powers to remind us what really matters when we have moments of weakness…for there will be great weaknesses along the way.  So I’m here to say HAVE HOPE!  

It was expensive to get here, where I am right now, (over $10K), even though I have good insurance that covered the other $50K I estimate my treatments and surgeries cost.  I still owe medical bills, paying them piecemeal, but still paying on all of them.  

I had to stop deluding myself and truly re-commit to taking care of myself again in a way that incorporated exercise, nutrition, standing up for myself to extricate myself from bad juju, even when I feel it coming at me from within my own family, and re-awakening to the common sense of recognizing basic reality.

We only have 100 years to live, after all, give or take.  We MUST make the most of that precious time.  

Unfortunately, I had to overdo my ‘recovery’ after the first surgery and have a second, exactly the same but more difficult surgery 2.5 years after having the first to learn from my mistakes.  

Which is why I’m writing all of this, ultimately.  I started wondering about all the other people out there who have had L5/S1 issues and after searching google and reading this blog decided I am really lucky to be where I’m at, it breaks my heart to read the pain in these messages, and I think people should hear my story too.  

I hope many, other, even more lucky people out there try all the conservative methods and get 100% relief without surgery.  

I hope a few less lucky people out there have only one surgery and give themselves optimal odds for the best recovery by taking it easy in contrast to what I did.  

For some, like me, it will take multiple surgeries.  I wish everyone the best and no pain on the other side.  

Here is how my first and second laminectomy/discectomy surgery came about:  (part II to follow)
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm 41yo, 6'4, 210 lbs, and a lifelong athlete who committed lots of insults to my spine and lived the natural consequences of these choices.  Hang glider crashes, rock climbing falls, assorted brutal jolts from football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, high speed skiing crashes, and so on.  

Oh, and multiple car crashes which, at least despite all the other incredible and occasionally alarmingly life-threatening experiences I have had, I am proud to say were not my fault.  Idiot, irresponsible drivers out there are probably what we have to fear most in life, unfortunately.  Talk about crazy things that happen in an instant over which we have no control.  But I digress.

So my body withstood 38 years of abusing myself before my luck ran out.  After an acute injury and while I was seeking relief for it, a horrible chiropractor wrenched my back in June 2008.  I felt and heard it, and so did he.  He damn well should have been more careful.  

Which leads me to:  We should all be careful of anyone who purports to 'heal' out there, they don't all heal.  Again, it’s common sense but deserves to be said because when we are hurting we are inherently relief seeking, too trusting, not skeptical enough to ask all the right questions of these folks to know whether we’re in good hands or not.

The bad chiro was the last straw in a long line of damage, bulging my discs at L3/L4, L4/L5, and L5/S1, pinching the main nerve running down my left leg.    

I tried to be a tough guy in the hopes that it would self-correct.  Massage therapy, more chiropractors, walking, swimming, PT, TENS, stretching, yoga, and lots of ice and ibuprofen for 6 months, standing work station, avoiding sitting and driving, until I couldn't stand the radiant left leg searing pain, couldn't concentrate on anything except how much agony I was feeling all the time, felt excruciating burning jolts of electricity when coughing or sneezing, and kept waking up screaming in the middle of the night because I had simply moved my body.  

Sleep deprivation, chronic pain, total hell just trying to live life.  These were new, awful things I was feeling 24/7.  I truly felt I had to do something or after a few years of this I was going to kill myself and end my own misery, regardless of what waits us beyond death.  I didn’t have control anymore, over anything.  

Recommended for an MRI at the end of the year by an orthopedic surgeon who read it and said 'Yes, you need surgery,'  I wanted both another opinion and someone who knew a lot about nerves, not just bones.  Saw Dr. Peter Reedy, an Idaho neurosurgeon who does not take patients until he's seen their MRI.  

That instilled confidence in me, because I knew he wasn't just dinking around.  Incredible man, talks fast and hates doctors.  Has long, braided hair like Willie Nelson and wears cowboy boots.  A straight talker.  He told me that he was likely to be able to remove a portion of the disc and resolve the pain because the herniated piece of disc was pinching the primary leg nerve and causing the intense sciatic leg pain.  

He told me that if I had back pain, I was much less likely to get relief than if I had leg pain.  

He told me that since it had been six months and I'd tried all the conservative stuff, it was unlikely it was going to resolve itself.  

I was tired of not being able to put my own socks on in the morning, being unable bend down or do my own laundry or dishes, and using all my sick and vacation time.  

I was willing to assume the always-present risks of paralysis and death that accompany spine surgery and anesthesia to, fully informed of the risks, roll the dice and take a chance to get my life back.  

So I elected to have the surgery.  I’m glad, to this day, I did.  I trusted him and he did great work.  


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Avatar_m_tn
Surgery 11am January 2009.  Took him 30 minutes.  Woke and immediately knew the pain was gone.  He told me he took out a thumb sized chunk of my disc, and when he laid the nerve back into place it visibly relaxed and said 'ahhhhhh.'  

No pain medications since minutes after leaving recovery, left hospital that day at 5pm.  Incision about two inches long, had internal suturing and a layer of glue on the outside which I would shower with after 24 hours and pat dry.  

Never looked back.  Should have looked back.  

Doc told me on the phone to take it easy, be careful sitting, recline a lot, walk 3-5 miles daily, and not to sit for more than 25 minutes at a time for 3 weeks.  He told me not to sit more than an hour at a time, ever, that sitting causes the most intense disc pressure, to take stretch breaks.  

Doc told me in 3 months scar tissue will fill in and 85% of disc tensile strength will be back, I’d be able to resume activities more vigorously at that time, and would eventually be back to 100% after a year.  

I managed to follow his orders for a week.  Walked 3-5 miles per day, every day.  Rediscovering nature, life, feeling grateful and blessed to remember normalcy, I felt too good.  I stopped consciously following that great advice.  Stopped playing only songs about pain on my guitar.

It was a week of bliss post-surgery I’d had, and I disrupted it all by myself,  I still feel guilty sometimes for screwing up Doc Reedy’s good work until I’d had a chance to heal fully.

Unfortunately, I got to feeling so good I forgot, temporarily, that I needed to take it easy 3 months, and didn't carefully logroll into my car on the way to work one day, didn’t carefully move both legs at the same time, didn’t attempt to keep my core strong.  

It was that simple  Searing pain in the left leg again.  Pain that brought tears to my eyes again.  Guess the tough guy is human…  Oh no, here we go again.  Called Doc in a panic.  

Do the conservative stuff, he said.  Give it time.  Heal.  The surgery is always out there and hopefully you won’t need it.  

So I re-committed to myself again.

Saw an acupuncturist,  PT, massage, TENS, Prednisone for a week, kept with the exercise, stretching, and nutrition for the full year through January 2010.  And I found relief after a few months of steady commitment.

I recovered to full strength over the course of the year with lots of swimming and stretching and core strengthening and basketball and skiing and passionate lovemaking.  But I still sat for too long, periodically.  Much longer than an hour.  But I didn’t care because I was ‘all better now.’

Went back to skiing moguls, riding my mountain bike in the foothills, playing above the rim, and living fully.  And forgot that, even though I'm a tough guy, I'm not quite so tough anymore.

Until July 2011.  That’s 2.5 years from January 2009.  Then, I injured my back lifting too much weight doing some volunteer work with kids.  Back to Prednisone, PT, massage therapy, stretching, walking.  The condition worsened, aching every day.  

Then in September 2011 I made the apparently horrible mistake of stomping my foot too hard to get the cat out from under the bed.  It was like being transported right back to the time and place of the original injury.  Back to the hell of ineffective conservative treatments.  

Another MRI.  This time a Myelogram and CT scan in October as well.  Having the dye injected into my back for the procedures doubled the amount of nerve pain, apparently from the increased fluid pressure.  Confirmatory pinched nerve by L5/S1 bulged disc, plus bone spurs and interfering scar tissue from the first surgery.

My insurance company apparently decided I’d suffered enough and authorized surgery November 2.  It was a relief to stop taking the 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 4-6 hours that still did very little to alleviate pain.      

This time there was lots of scar tissue for Doc Reedy to move through.  It took an hour and 20 minutes.   10% of the disc came out.  Again, I’m all better in recovery, with slight left leg pain that dissipated over the course of a week.  Again walking 3-5 miles per day.  Much more careful getting in and out of my car, in and out of bed, engaging in daily life activities with a health dose of caution, wiser this time.  I hope. It will have been six weeks from my second surgery in about ten hours.  And every day is precious.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi I am new to this forum and looking for ANY feedback. I had an L5 S1 microdiskectomy 8 days ago. Much to my surprise and that of the surgical staff and nursing staff (once I was in my room), I was feeling so much better. Walking the halls and not needing pain meds that I was discharged that evening. I have had some muscle discomfort which I expected and a few nerve (what I call zingers) pains since. What concerns me is that it is a different area...meaning NOT the same nerve pain as before. New location.
In the beginning of this process my pain was from the right "cheek" down the outside of right thigh to my ankle and foot including the possibility of nerve damage to same.
First hour post op.....pain 1-10 was about an 8/9 with a terrible BURNING sensation at the incision site...now with that said I have multiple tattoos and that's what it felt like after a dose of Dilauded (sp?) the tenderness and burning subsided, just felt like a new tattoo....burning and itchy.
Fast forward to today...the pain is different and intermittent. Is this part of the healing process, have I "over done it" some how. Or should I just relax and it too will pass? ANY feed back positive/ negative is welcomed!
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Avatar_m_tn
I just had an l5 S1 Laminectomy 2 weeks ago today. I suffered with this pain for 2 years, trying everything under the sun but surgery. Even the days right before surgery I was still trying my options, but nothing worked. They cut about a 1 inch incision, I woke up in a lot of pain, stayed in the hospital for several hours after the surgery, then they sent me homes with pain killers. The first few days was tough, a lot of pain still, then it finally started to go down. The doctor told me to walk 45 minites per day, I am now averaging 2.5 miles per day. I am still having some pain, but nothing like before. The doctor said it could take a little while for the pain to calm down since it has been so long. I go for my first follow up appt. this week. My low back has the sensation like it wants to pop and everything will be fine. I will see what the doc says about that. For anyone suffing in this pain at this point I would reccomend surgery. Make sure you do your homework to find a good doctor. I interviewed several doctors and did a ton of research before deciding who to choose. I am hoping as more time passes the pain will decrease. I am also a very active person and this is very hard for me to take it easy. Has anyone been told to do any certain stretches after surgery?
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow, thanks for sharing your story - it gives me hope.  I am getting 3 epidural shots for my pain (L5/degenerated disc).  My last one will be next Tuesday and then after that if the pain still exists I will need to have surgery to a week after to remove the degenereated disc!  I'm so nervous but I just have to trust that God will guide my doctor's hands and hope/pray for a pain-free life after surgery.  I've been athletic my whole life so I'm not use to this kind of pain EVERYDAY...I'm at my wits end!!  I'm studying any literature regarding L5 back surgery in hopes of hearing a success story.  I do hope you're doing well.  Take Care!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Debb2011. I had the same surgery for the right side L5S1 and severe Sciatica pain. I am a solid 8 days after surgery. The surgeon I had was claimed to be one of the best of the best, and I might add, he was/is. The surgery was on Friday, March 16, the day after my 41st birthday....March 17, I was walking and being a pain in the butt to my boys and husband....lol. March 18, I was stacking the dishwasher. It has been now 8 days, as I said, and I have hammered nails into the deck rails, wrapped some of the trees on our property, watered trees, feeding chickens and driving to the office for a client. I took no pain meds since surgery. I have no pain, just itching around the incision. I am very tired, but I refuse to let that slow me down too much. Naturally the surgery exhausts a person, so I'm not as active as I ever am, and I do take a long rest in a recliner throughout the day.

Here is the thing, I was in Tae Kwon Do as a purple belt. I love TKD! I joined  Martial Arts seven months ago to support my seven year old son. I found out it was the best thing to compliment my physical strength and abilities. I aggravated an already growing bulged disc, but didn't know there was any problem until I started having sciatic pain. Within two months the pain ran down the leg into the calve and numbed my right foot. I was crawling to help my husband get the kids dressed in the mornings....THAT is when I went in for an MRI. Turns out, this disc problem had been growing for who knows how long but due to lots of natural muscles in my back, I managed to avoid much of the pain associated with an extremely herniated disc. I am fortunate that I am broad shouldered and strong...grew up with horses too. I have always been active despite any ailments, believing if you don't push yourself, you will eventually give into your pains and never really recover or remain healthy. Lots of these disc issues, L5S1, are genetic and I have never broken a bone or done anything to bring it on, not even the TKD. My surgeon said the TKD was great for me, I just used muscles in a different way that pushed the inevitable along. So, long, long story shorter, I am sitting here tonight feeling no pain, very tired from a big day of constant movement, including making ice cream with my two little boys, sewing curtains, picking up trash along the fence from the heavy winds and more. I am ready for bed at 9:40pm. Recovery for me was so far awesome. I am told I can attend my TKD after a month after surgery, so three more weeks to go, although I won't until another month & a half I think...just to be safe. Don't be afraid you'll never get back in the saddle, no pun intended, sort of, lol. You will, but realize the muscles you are using that you don't really think about when the horse simply lifts a hind leg to scratch the other hind leg, or clips the shoe on a big stone, or even shifts his/her weight. After surgery, go to the store and purchase a good back brace for lumber disc/spinal support. Mueller brand, if I am spelling it right, is the kind I have. It has good support and is a physical/mental reminder  for me NOT  to bend forward, lift anything over 10#,  or twist. Without it and without feeling pain, and knowing I am physically capable of lifting heavy things, I might do damage and end up with a reherniated disc, which is something I can't afford, nor want. So, get a super doctor, research him/her, read up on your type of surgery, and by all means, don't, I repeat, DON'T give up on the idea that you will be back in the saddle.

Thanks for reading this enormous note and good luck!!!
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i went through the same surgery on Jan 8th in false creek hospital and lucky enough to have Dr Chan as surgeon . i still have the sciatica pain i the right leg and pain in the back with even little bending or sitting for more than few minutes .I am also left with the motion less foot on the right side . The recovery is very slow as told by the Dr and you are right the Dr ha no answer for any of the questions i ask him . Even the Hydromorphine did not help with the sciatica pain so i decided to stop it ,now i am three weeks off of morphine and the pain is getting worse [unbearable ] . Best way i have learn,t is to take my mind off of it by doing small things like playing on the computer or going in swimming pool and physio .It does help because if i stay still for about half hour so my joints start aching ,it gets hard to get out of the bed ,the body goes into a spasm and is very hard to stand . But you know they say There is always hope specially if one tries for good and be positive .You take care and keep moving as much as you can.
                                                                      BUNTY SANDHU
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