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Should my knee still buckle sometimes following a microdiscectomy

I had a microdiscectomy 3 months ago due to a bulging disc at L5/S1 that occured at work in july 2007. I had a follow up MRI a month ago ( which said I had had a laminectomy ) due to return of pain and increased pain in my right leg  (the good one ) and pain in my feet that feel like cramps without the actual cramping. the MRI showed the area to be very inflamed and swollen nerve, my neurosurgeon said not to do any PT as this would aggravate it. I have good days and bad days and mostly pace myself as it lets me know when I have done too much. This morning the pain started really bad and  when I walk my left knee keeps buckling and won't hold me up unless I turn my foot to the outside and try to keep my leg straight to walk. Is this normal as the nerve is still swollen and the area still inflamed? The area of the incision is also very tender to the touch although the actual cut is healed up nicely. Could it be inflamed more as the last 5 days I have been trying to look after my husband as he had an emergency laminectomy last week?
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Avatar universal
Dear Kezza,
You evidently had both a discectomy and laminectomy, sometimes done at the same time depending on what the surgeon finds.  Now, you say you've been caring for your husband who had a similar operation last week.  This activity has probably aggravated your condition, and so new swelling is now bothering a nerve, and thus your symptoms.

You need to ask a family member or friend to take your place in helping your husband right now.  Quit helping him.  Put cold compresses on your lower back and don't overuse your legs... if you'll walk through your house while putting your hands on your low back, you'll feel how the leg muscles pull and tug on the spine there.  Get a knee brace gizmo at the pharmacy and wear it on that weak leg when you're up and about, for a week, becuz you don't want to fall down.

I think once you let this recent irritation in your back settle back down, you should return to normal.  However, after two weeks, if the pain keeps up or the leg gives out when you think it has gotten better, get another opinion on your MRI to see if your spine has tore up all over again and perhaps needs further treatment.  
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Avatar universal
Hey ggreg
Thanks for the reply, I will take your advice. I will  give it about a week or two until I call the neuro like my hubby is pushing me to do. tho unfortunately his family wont help as they are selfish creatures. Anyway i woke up this morning at about 3 am and found I had a bit of strength back in my leg, but the pain in my cheek won't quit, like never have I had anything like this knife in my butt cheek before no matter what position I am in. At least i know what to look for as my hubby had foot drop only for 2 days before we saw the neuro and that was why he was done as an emergency case. But 3 months after my my surgery and 2 months after surgery MRI showed swollen nerve, will it ever settle down? If I cant even look after my own husband how am I going to go back to work in the nursing home?
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Avatar universal
Keep in mind that the swelling around nerves has probably been a recent and temporary development, on account of you bending over and helping your husband and so forth.  But the question about whether you can work in a nursing home is more interesting.  If you returned to work after the surgery and had no problems, then you can predict the same will happen when you go back again...allow several days of complete recovery time from this recent setback once your husband can get up.  If you have NOT yet returned to work, and caring for your husband has bothered your back all over again, well, then the outlook for work is different.  

You will probably have to ask your work supervisor to be put on "light duty" for a month, and you will need to wear the knee brace throughout that time.  While this is going on, you'll also need to strengthen your tummy muscles...don't do situps or anything wild like that.  Just pull in your stomach tight whenever you are bending over to do something, even if it's just a little bend.  Having tight stomach muscles helps support the back, you see.

If your family won't help you with your husband right now, ask a good friend to come in daily and do anything heavy, save it for them.  Or tell your husband to call a man friend of his to come over and do it.  Or you can hire someone to come in once a day for an hour, lasting for a week or so.  If worse comes to awful, then get a "back brace" wrap at the pharmacy, wear it when you are working with your husband.  But don't wear it all the time or your muscles will lose their strength.
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