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Old 08-04-2011, 02:57 AM   #1
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L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

Hi everyone.

I had a discectomy Monday afternoon on L5/S1. I didn't really have much choice as I was incoherent with pain and unable to stand sit or lay so they did it urgently.

I'm really pleased to say it's made an amazing difference already and I came home last night.

I have exercises given to me from the ward physio and I've been walking up and down indoors. However, what I'd really like is to go for a walk outside and get some fresh air. Nobody was able to give me guidelines for what to aim for other than 'listen to your body' and I'm scaring myself a bit that I'm going to overdo it.

Obviously the surgical site hurts and feels very tender, as does the drainage site next to it. But all the sciatic pain is gone.

So, can anyone help? Would you be starting with a ten minute aim and stop if it felt uncomfortable? Is that too much? Or not enough??

All advice appreciated thank you

 
Old 08-04-2011, 03:36 AM   #2
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

I've never had a discectomy but I was fused at L5-S1. I walked 180 ft after surgery, I hear that's good as some can hardly get outta bed. Like yourself, my relief was immediately apparent. I ended up with some nerve pain (whewww!!) but it went away within 3 wks and had nothing to do with my activity (it was from surgery where they moved the nerves to operate). Don't tell anyone but I went down water slides at 4.5 wks post op I felt so good. Stupid move when I think back but it didn't hurt me (thank you God). In other words, surgery didn't hold me down one bit.

I thought walking was a good thing for recovery.. one of the best things you can do in fact. I'm not a dr but I would think 10 minutes would be fine (unless of course you are uncomfortable). Just be really careful about being around others who might bump into you and cause you to lose balance (as with crowds or kids). And also remember if you're still on pain meds, you may not feel when you're doing too much -until later- so work your way up. Best of luck to you.. I'm glad to hear things went well.

 
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:28 AM   #3
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

The thing to remember about walking after lumbar surgery is that you are not doing it for aerobic exercise. The primary reason it is so important is to keep scar tissue from attaching to a spinal nerve as you are healing. Also the discs do not have any major supply of blood, so you need that extra blood flow that is provided by moderate exercise, of which walking is the best.

For this reason, you are better off talking frequent walks of short duration than one long walk that tires you and irritates the muscles and soft tissue of the back.

If you are taking one ten minute walk now, think about taking three or four five minute walks spread out over the course of the day. Also be sure you are walking on a level surface. If it begins to hurt, shorten your stride and slow your pace. Then if you are tolerating what you are doing, GRADUALLY increase the distance...don't go from walking ten minutes to walking a 2 miles overnight! What you want to accomplish is gradually building your distance and time without causing a flare of pain or irritation of the sciatic nerve if you previously had pain in your leg.

Remember that after a discectomy, it is possible to reherniate that disc that has just been surgically altered. It takes a good six months for it to toughen up and be more dependably strong.

 
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

Thank you both for replying

I have done a couple of walks today of about 5 minutes at average speed and will try another later. Who would have thought that such a short stroll would leave me so exhausted!!

It's only the scar/stitches from surgery that feel weird, a bit like they're pulling.

I'm struggling with what to do in the day, lay down, do my exercises, few short walks, sit down every now and then. Does that sound about right?

I've heard of people reherniating their discs and it's one of my fears, can it just happen from a light walk? Or is it just luck of the draw?

 
Old 08-04-2011, 10:33 AM   #5
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

I had an L5/S1 discectomy back in November 2010. I was told walking was the best thing for me.

My doctor suggested as most are saying here and thats take a few short walks and build it up over time. If it ever starts hurting though just stop and take a break and take it easy. Something that really helped me was that I started physical therapy approx. 3 weeks after my operation and helped me get more active without the fear of doing stuff by myself and doing something wrong.

As for the day to day activies do remember not to sit for too long as it puts pressure on your lower back which is still fragile from the operation. I was instructed after my operation to avoid sitting longer than 10-15 minutes at a time for about a month.

You sound like you try to stay active which is good just don't over do it and don't over relax either; have to find that middle ground that is good for you.

Also what kind of stitches did they give you? Mine were the inside ones that disolve so never really felt any kind of tugging just tightness around my scar.

 
Old 08-04-2011, 01:28 PM   #6
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

Actually I think you're right, I think my stitches are some kind of glue as I can't get them wet at all for two weeks. Hair washing is going to be fun ha ha!

That's 3 short walks today and my back now feels stiff and achey so I'm resting up. I'm hoping this is normal, plus I've had to get used to rolling off the bed and bending down rather than over or twisting.

I'm not moaning either as compared to the excruciating agony of Monday pre-surgery this is nothing! I've never hurt myself at all before though and whilst I'm lucky to get to 36 with no previous problems, I have nothing to compare it to and have no idea if this is supposed to feel this way.

Loving hearing from you, specially as you all seem to be better and exactly where I want to be!! Xx

 
Old 08-05-2011, 12:31 AM   #7
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

I just had a couple more questions!

One - can anyone suggest a good way to wash hair? My shower is in bath and I'm struggling to find a way to do it that won't involve bending forward or getting my stitches wet!

Two - I usually sleep on my stomach. My booklet from hospital doesn't mention it at all, only sideways and on back. Is it OK to sleep on my front?

 
Old 08-05-2011, 07:51 AM   #8
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

For washing in the shower I took a piece of plastic, if no plastic can use like the bag your bread comes in and cut out a square that is big enough to cover the area. Make sure you have medical tape that is somewhat resistant to water and completely tape off all sides of the plastic and take your shower. Just make sure to not let the water directly impact that area as it doesn't feel good. Your scar area might be a little damp but just dry it off with no issues.

As far as how to sleep I can not tell you. I was never told myself to not sleep on my stomach; did ask me how I sleep and told them my side and they kept it at that. If any doubts just call your medical team, they should be able to answer a simple question over the phone with no issues.

Last edited by bringers; 08-05-2011 at 07:53 AM.

 
Old 08-05-2011, 09:05 PM   #9
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

Press and seal suran wrap works great on parts that are easy to wrap (future reference, smaller parts).. but I'd do what bringers mentioned.

As for sleeping on your stomach.. I really wouldn't do that just yet. Try to sleep on your back or side, you will probably start waking up on your stomach anyway. I'm a stomach sleeper too, one thing that helped keep me on my side comfortably was placing a pillow (or part of the comforter) between my legs. (Not too big, not too small). It seems to keep the back/hips in good alignment without stressing any muscles.

 
Old 08-05-2011, 09:26 PM   #10
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

[COLOR="DarkOrchid"]
Treat yourself to going to a hair salon and get your hair washed. The chairs are perfect for after back surgery and you deserve a lil pampering, even guys do. Explain to them you just had surgery and need to get a wash and to be gentle and patient with you. Most will love the idea that you wanted them to help you by going there.

NOOOO SLEEPING ON YOUR BACK, it's the worst position for your back. Puts major pressure on your spine since it stresses your spine to curve forward. At least not until you heal and know your better for sure.

Glad to hear your doing do well so far, keep up the good work.

God Bless

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Old 08-06-2011, 06:12 PM   #11
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

You may fatigue easily as I did post op fusion. start at 5 min and increase by 5 each time you walk. I was told if you are having a bad day and hurt/sore more than you were the day before, dont push yourself that day.
good luck

 
Old 08-07-2011, 01:02 PM   #12
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

This is good advice except that the increase is a 100% increase. At five minutes it might not make that much difference...but if you were walking one mile and the next day walked two miles, you could really cause yourself some soreness or possibly get a flare going.

I have found out the hard way that it is much easier to make GRADUAL increases, boring though they may be, than create a cycle where the nerve becomes inflamed...and then you have to cut way back on activity while the inflammation goes back down...and then start up all over again trying to build slowly back up. You can really get a nasty cycle going of causing inflammation and atrying to recover from inflammation to the point that you are never making any forward progress...so it is just easier to go very, very slowly in the beginning. When you are further along in recovery, you can begin to pick up the pace a bit...until after a year when you can safely resume almost all activity.

 
Old 08-07-2011, 03:43 PM   #13
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

And then there is me, 2 years post fusion L4 L5 S1,2 discectomies, 3 laminectomy with 6 screws and two rods. The only time I can get pain free is in the pool. I swim everyday. Once i get out of the pool ...bam...its back. Had my second spinal injection last week......slightly helped. Doc gave me a DVD to watch about a spinal cord stimulator. Very frustrating!!

 
Old 08-08-2011, 04:29 PM   #14
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

Had my L5-S1 fusion on July 21st. Doc said to go outside and walk but with my back brace. I am still waiting to get the brace! I can walk about 1/2 a mile comfortably with a brace we picked up at the drug store. I know it's not the right one but since it is now 18 days since surgery I am giving up on the doctor's office getting me one.

 
Old 08-08-2011, 05:48 PM   #15
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Re: L5/S1 discectomy - post op 2 days. Walking advice!

I never had a back brace. I didnt even have stitches! He used crazy glue type stuff.

 
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