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Old 08-29-2010, 09:53 PM   #1
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Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi,

I'm new here.

I'm about 4+ weeks post-laminectomy (minimally-invasive, L4). According to my surgeon, they only had to remove 1 lamina.

Immediately after surgery, I noted that my legs/feet were no longer going numb, but since the surgery, I've had various pains in my hips/legs, especially in my right hip and hamstring area. Those pains have been "moving" around, but have been subsiding somewhat (still there, but still occur, when I move my legs, especially when lying down and sitting. I also have some painful areas in the hamstring area and outer thigh of my right leg, where if I "roll over" them, it really hurts.

I recently had my first post-op visit with the surgeon, and he thinks that the leg pain is probably due to "nerve pain", and thinks/hopes that they may resolve. I've also seen a physical medicine doctor, who said the same thing. I'm going to be starting some physical therapy soon, but a little delayed because of vacations (the therapist's, not mine ), and Labor day coming up.

I've been reading the info on this forum, both pre-surgery and post-surgery, and it's been very helpful, but the main reason that I finally decided to register here, and post, is I was wondering if the above all sounds "about right", and I also have another question.

After the surgery, I started taking short walks outside and inside, and after about the 2nd week, I began occasional trips to (for example) a local shopping center, and walking there (very hot here, so it was a lot cooler ).

Riding (not driving) in the car was very painful, especially sitting on my right hip during those short (~15 minutes) trips, but kind of bearable.

One thing that I've noticed is that almost every time, awhile after I got back home, I'd begin feeling "miserable", i.e., body aching all over and somewhat feverish. My wife can always tell when this was happening... she said my face would start turning reddish. When that has happened, we've taken my temperature, but that was also about normal, 97F - 98.6F. Nothing elevated.

During those times, I've felt some tightness/pain in my back area, around the incision area, but not really bad, and, after lying down for awhile (several hours), I'd feel better.

I had mentioned this reaction to the surgeon and to the physical medicine doctor, and while they didn't seemed surprised or alarmed about it, they didn't really have a good explanation for it.

Medication wise, I'm still taking Lyrica, and Skelaxin. I also have some pain medication, which I do take once in awhile (usually before bed), but I've been trying to avoid that.

So, I was wondering if anyone can tell me if this "aching/feverish-feeling" reaction is typical in my situation?

I'm hoping/assuming that the leg/hip/back pain will get better over time, but I'm a little worried about that.

Thanks,
Jim

 
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:09 PM   #2
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi Jim
I can't say if what you are going through is normal or not because everyone and there situation is unique - I will share my experience so far and maybe that will help. June 2010 I had partial facetectomy and laminectomy without fusion L3, L4 and L5 - invasive. From day one I could walk as much as tolerated and now I up to anywhere from 1/2 - 1 mile at a time. By 3 weeks I could do stairs one at a time. First 5 weeks Dr. orders were no sitting more than 15-20 min - including car rides and now I can sit up to 30 min. At 5 weeks I was allowed to swim. Because I have nerve damage, I have the random pain/numbness/tingling/sharp pain and when my leg gets fatigued, it worsens. Until I started PT, I was not allowed to stretch - and I soooo needed/wanted to but my Dr. wanted to make sure all was healed first. Now that I've started, that's the 1st thing they started me on which is helping and will work up from there. Maybe trying an icepack on the painful areas will help - it's helped me.
Try to be patient - easier said than done I know - and try to focus on how far you've come instead of how far you have to go, you don't want to rush things and then have to go through it again or worse yet re-injure and not be able to fix it. Good luck.

 
Old 09-01-2010, 04:08 PM   #3
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi,

Thanks for the info.

It sounds like you're about 8-12 weeks after surgery now? How are you doing with leg pain? Also when you had/have leg pain did it just happen randomly, or was it with certain movements?

In my case, the right leg pain seems to mostly happen if:

- I'm lying flat on my back
- I lift my left knee

Often, when I do that I get this shooting/sharp pain that seems to start at the hip downwards through the back of the right thigh, sometimes going down to the calf. It feels like the leg is locking.

Today is 5 weeks after surgery, but that still is happening.

I have PT scheduled, but because of vacation (therapist's) and Labor Day, that won't start until 1.5 weeks from now...

Jim

Last edited by ohaya; 09-01-2010 at 04:10 PM.

 
Old 09-01-2010, 07:08 PM   #4
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi
The leg pain is still there - some, like the aching, is always there; the nerve pain is random - comes more with use or fatigue in the leg. Because it took so long for WC to really address the leg pain/numbness issue - over 10 years - not sure at this point if the nerve damage is permanent, only time will tell. In the meantime, taking Neurontin (sp) which helps, and strictly following Dr. orders. I've only had 2 PT appts. and even though it's kicking my butt, it is helping and hopefully when all is said and done I will have alot less pain without the need for meds. I am constantly told to listen to my body and that just because I could do something one day doesn't mean I'll be able to do it the next - the rehab process is long and always moving so try not to get discouraged. Best of luck with your PT.

 
Old 09-01-2010, 08:07 PM   #5
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi,

Thanks again, and sorry you still are having pain. You might find this amusing, but when I asked the dr. how long to recover before I had the surgery he said "2-4 weeks" ...

What is "WC"?

Also, I assume they said to do the logrolling maneuver to get in/out of bed? In my case, I get the sharp hip/thigh pain even when I do that, esp. when getting up, which I think is not normal. I kind of think that my hip muscles must be really weakened from the 10+ years that I waited before having the laminectomy ...

Jim

 
Old 09-01-2010, 08:25 PM   #6
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

WC is Workers' Compensation.

At 4 weeks the aching feeling is normal. Nerves do heal slowly and can cause havoc on your system. Even if the incision was small they move tissues and nerves around so thus it takes time to heal. Does the Skelaxin help at all when you get the symptoms?

I'm nearly 9 months post L3-S1 and I do get periods where from the waist down my legs feel like jello. I've found taking one pain med and one of my muscle relaxers (I take Soma) helps.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:56 PM   #7
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi Jim
Yes, I am at 12 weeks post surgery - I was told it would be about 2 months recovery and my boss laughed at me because I thought I'd be back by the end of the 2 months. It's 2 months recovery and then at least 3 months rehab. but that's mostly because of the leg weakness due to the nerve damage.
WC is worker's compensation.
Yes I also do the logroll, but have not had any additional pain from it (maybe because I don't have any feeling in the left hip area). However, my husband ended up with a pinched nerve from using one leg most of the time trying to get out of bed after heart surgery instead of rolling the hips with knees bent to get out. He was in so much pain that he couldn't move - pretty scary since it had only been 8 days since his surgery - 1 day after coming home. Went to the ER, was given pain med, muscle relaxant and later stretching and walking (plus doing the log roll properly) - only took a few days and his hip was fine. Definitely talk with your therapist about your hip/thigh pain.

 
Old 09-01-2010, 10:24 PM   #8
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

I will also say that when you are logrollling or doing any activity you are using different muscles to avoid using the back muscles. I found that I was sore in odd areas but it was based on how I was getting up, etc. I have a bedside table that is sturdy and I would use it to push myself up as I logrolled. I ended up with a bruise on my hand from all the pressure I was using and a sore wrist as well.
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Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

 
Old 09-03-2010, 10:07 PM   #9
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

[QUOTE=SpineAZ;4319436]WC is Workers' Compensation.

At 4 weeks the aching feeling is normal. Nerves do heal slowly and can cause havoc on your system. Even if the incision was small they move tissues and nerves around so thus it takes time to heal. Does the Skelaxin help at all when you get the symptoms?

I'm nearly 9 months post L3-S1 and I do get periods where from the waist down my legs feel like jello. I've found taking one pain med and one of my muscle relaxers (I take Soma) helps.[/QUOTE]

Hi,

It doesn't feel like the Skelaxin/Metaxalone is helping much, but it's hard to tell. I think that I made a mistake earlier, trying to avoid taking the pain med (Hydocodone) that I was given. I started work part-time this week, and felt miserable every day when I got home, so I started taking a minimal dosage (1 per 4 hrs) before and during work, and I think that has helped. At least I don't feel as bad after I get home...

Jim

 
Old 09-03-2010, 10:18 PM   #10
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

[QUOTE=ivorylassie;4319498]Hi Jim
Yes, I am at 12 weeks post surgery - I was told it would be about 2 months recovery and my boss laughed at me because I thought I'd be back by the end of the 2 months. It's 2 months recovery and then at least 3 months rehab. but that's mostly because of the leg weakness due to the nerve damage.
WC is worker's compensation.
Yes I also do the logroll, but have not had any additional pain from it (maybe because I don't have any feeling in the left hip area). However, my husband ended up with a pinched nerve from using one leg most of the time trying to get out of bed after heart surgery instead of rolling the hips with knees bent to get out. He was in so much pain that he couldn't move - pretty scary since it had only been 8 days since his surgery - 1 day after coming home. Went to the ER, was given pain med, muscle relaxant and later stretching and walking (plus doing the log roll properly) - only took a few days and his hip was fine. Definitely talk with your therapist about your hip/thigh pain.[/QUOTE]

Hi,

Some good news: The sharp pain I was having when moving around when lying down seems to be happening much less. I don't know why, but it's either because it was from nerve pain and it's getting less, or because I've stopped taking the Lyrica (nurse's suggestion).

Also I've started doing some water walking, as you mentioned, which I think also helps.

Thanks,
Jim

 
Old 10-06-2010, 07:48 PM   #11
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Re: Another couple of post-laminectomy (lumbar) recovery questions

Hi All,

It's been awhile since I've posted, but I've been continuing to read posts. I wish I could be more helpful (or maybe not - sometimes I really wish I didn't have to even think about this ).

Anyway, I wanted to post an update.

I'm now about 10 weeks post-op, and things are somewhat better re. pain.

If you recall, I had a laminectomy at L4 at the end of July, and following that had a lot of "strange" leg pain. That appears to be mostly gone now.

I still can't sit for really long periods of time, and have some butt pain when I do, but I think/hope that even that is getting better/less.

Also the episodes of feverishness/aching seem to be almost not happening anymore, and I'm almost completely off of any meds. I no longer am taking the Skelaxin, and don't take the Hydrocodone routinely anymore. I do take the latter (one only) occasionally, when I have a "bad day".

Since my last post, there've been a number of times that I wanted to post, because the "progress" seemed SO random. The phrase "some good days, and some bad days" seems to definitely be applicable to recovering from back surgery !!

I started PT about 4 weeks ago (late, I know, but the therapist I wanted to work with was out for awhile), but it's hard to tell whether or how much that has helped. I know that I almost always am sore in different places after each session, but I've been told that that's normal. I've found that the NEXT day seems to almost always be a "good" day.

Anyway, other than that, I have a followup with the surgeon coming up, and had another MRI in prep for that, because still have some numbness in my right ankle and both feet, so we'll see what he says.

That's about it for now. As I said, even though I don't post, I do read here, so wish the best of wishes for everybody here, and am grateful for this resource.

Jim

 
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